When I think back of how I started animating, I find that it has about the same origin as how I first started creating websites. There was this program on my parents' computer called "MS FrontPage". As a kid with access to a computer, you'll obviously want to click every single button that you can! So I did..
I must have been around 10 years old and I already had some experience with Microsoft Office programs like Word, Powerpoint and Excel (albeit to just mess around with them, creating 'beautiful' art). I never opened FrontPage before, though. I had no idea what it was. That couldn't have stayed that way of course, I must know everything there is to know!
I soon realized that what you created in FrontPage, could be opened in an Internet browser. It was basically a website! At the time, though, I had no idea why I couldn't actually get it on the Internet.. That didn't matter though. I created the most bizarre things, like a huge maze (read: a large box where you can scroll up and downs and left and right a lot). I filled it with lots of animated GIFs (pronounced /xɪf/, like the Dutch word for poison), which were mostly spooky / Halloween related. I was obsessed with Halloween at that time. All year long. For multiple years, actually.
I recently found a floppy disk (yes, I used those) that probably contains one of the first 'websites' I ever created. The one problem is, I don't have anything that can actually read floppy disks.. I have it in my bag which I carry with me most of the time, just in case I ever encounter someone who has a floppy disk reader. If that ever happens I'll definitely upload it and link to it here.
I was fooling around with lots of animation techniques in Flash, learning ActionScript alongside it. The examples in the books always used simple shapes like squares and circles, and simple animations like moving in one direction using the motion tween or morphing a square into a circle using the shape tween. I was always doing so much more than that.. (with various levels of success)
It was always a sort of in-the-background hobby, which I couldn't really show anywhere. Well, I could upload them to certain places, but I didn't know about that yet. Though I did once win a contest on Habbo, by e-mailing them a GIF I exported from Flash.
Also most animations where only a few seconds long, depicting the craziest things. The moment I realised I could actually show my creations to the world was when I encountered asdfmovie and Eddsworld on YouTube. I remember watching "Kill Bing" with a friend at his place. I/we must've clicked on the related videos to find asdfmovie. Later I myself found the various Eddsworld animations (also generously using the related videos section on YouTube).
I immediately saw that those were created in Flash (one huge fingerprint has always been the smudgy results of using the brush tool). I realized I had the tools (though definitely not the skills) to do the same things! And I wanted to! I came up with the super original screenname "Benimation", removed my existing YouTube channel (with just some screen recordings of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 on it (come to think of it, I might've invented YouTube gaming channels)) and started gathering friends to create what was mostly an Eddsworld rip-off..
Benimation has since been my screenname on pretty much every account I made (if it was still available). I wanted to get benimation.com for so long (it was already registered and nowadays it's for sale), until I finally decided to just go with .nl so I could finally upload some web test stuff to the Internet.
The common theme here, I think, is that I always liked fooling around with computer programs that let me create things. Be it websites or animations. (or music, or 3D models, or fonts, or lookup tables, or fractals..)
I might've found out about Flash and computer animation eventually, but the way it happened is that it all started with Microsoft FrontPage. That's really hilarious to me, because nowadays I barely use any of Microsoft's products or services. I wrote this blog post on a Mac, for instance. But the fact is, that's where it started.