You might be thinking how it is even possible to animate still images. Well, remember puppet shows? In puppet shows you have inanimate dolls or puppets with flexible limbs connected to strings which are controlled by humans. By pulling the strings we can move the puppets in all sort of ways and make them walk, dance and talk.
Creating animations with Animata, an open source real-time animation software, is exactly like putting up a puppet show. Unlike traditional animation software you don’t have to be an artist to create animations because there is no drawing or modeling involved. All you need is an assortment of pictures. Then using the tools available on Animata you create a skeleton mesh on top of the image. Make some parts of the skeleton fixed and some part movable. Assign pivot points around which the movable parts would rotate. Then attach “strings” to those movable parts. By contracting or expanding these strings you can move the limbs just like you move a puppet and create animations.
The following video will give you a better idea on how it’s done.
Another peculiar feature of the software is that the animation - the movement of the puppets, the changes of the background - is generated in real-time, making continuous interaction possible. This ability also permits that physical sensors, cameras or other environmental variables can be attached to the animation of characters, thus setting up a scene of drawn characters controlled by the movement of human characters.
Here is another video that demonstrates this.
Animata is available for Windows and Mac platforms.