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Manim Is Cool, if You Know How to Use It

2020-03-24 2 min read Cool stuff Programming Teknikal_Domain Unable to load comment count

Manim , the Mathematical ANIMation engine, is a tool created by Grant Sanderson, or should I say 3Blue1Brown . If you’ve ever seen a 3b1b video, you know they have a very distinct style. Well, this is the tool that makes it possible.

Those videos do tend to have a very minimal, function-over-form look and feel, and this is why. Manim is a python based project where you define a Scene as a set of shapes, and then dictate how those shapes move. I won’t get into examples right now, there’s plenty at Todd Zimmerman&rsquo;s tutorial (note: last time I went there the CSS failed to load, repeatedly. Site may not be 100% operational)

But suffice it to say, something like this python snippet:

class Shapes(Scene):
    def construct(self):
        square = Square()
        circle = Circle()

        self.play(ShowCreation(square))
        self.play(Transform(square, circle))
        self.wait(1)
        self.play(FadeOut(square))

would show a square being drawn, that square morphing into a circle, and then the new circle fading out after one second.

And if you want more, the GitHub repo linked above actually contains the files used for past 3b1b videos, so you can see exactly how a certain video was made just by looking through the defined scenes.

Now personally, I’m still a fan of my own animation skills in After Effects, but for simple things, or needing to clearly illustrate a topic, the program is open source (MIT license, except for the files describing past videos) and free to use, if you can seriously wrap your head around the convoluted nature that it works on.

Not that I fault Grant for this though.. it was a tool written by one person, for that same person, for a particular purpose, I don’t expect the most polished thing on earth. It can do some really cool things for anyone has seen the channel, it just takes some work to properly teach yourself what it can do and how you tell it to do that.

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