Sunday , September 20 2020
Character Animator

Software Review: Animations Don’t Need Masks with ‘Adobe Character Animator’

Although the live production of TV and movie programming has taken a serious hit this year, live animation is on the upswing. “Live animation” may sound like a contradiction in terms. It consists of animating cartoon characters through capturing the movement and voice of live actors. This speeds production and benefits everyone in the current situation as actors don’t need to be bunched together with each other and a large production crew.

Just in time, Adobe Software has added a series of upgrades to its Character Animator product which can help refine and speed up this process. Upgrades were released into public BETA on August 19.

What is Character Animator

Many software publishers offer tools for creating animations. Adobe’s Character Animator differs in an important way.

Character Animator
Character Animator upgrades make puppets more
responsive to facial expressions

After you have created or downloaded and customized your character, which Adobe calls a puppet, you create a link between the animation and a live person. A camera and microphone pick up the speech and movement of the live actor. The software records the movements so they can be replayed as an animation.

This is the fastest way possible to create an animated sequence.

What’s New

Adobe has improved the lip-syncing capabilities, including capturing head and eyebrow movement. Actors are not just doing voice-over, but really lending their personality to the puppet. The Merge Takes tool improves the process of combining several lip-sync takes into one sequence on the editing timeline.

Limb IK (Inverse Kinematics) gives puppets improved and more realistic motion when animated to run, jump, or dance. Also, a hand can be pinned to a certain part of the body. It stays there for the duration of a sequence. Also, feet can be attached firmly to the ground when the character is not walking.

Character Animator
The software includes a host of features for refining
the animation after it is captured

Another new feature, Set Rest Pose, creates a default pose to which the puppet returns when not animated by the live performer.

Seeing It

Popular shows such as The Loud House (Nickelodeon), Tooning Out the News (CBS All Access), and Your Daily Horoscope (Quibi) have already been using some of the Beta software features since May for their currently viewable productions.

According to information provided by Adobe, Your Daily Horoscope Supervising Director Tim Herrold said this about the new features: “Our team utilizes a lot of hold takes to replicate a more pose-to-pose style that you’d find in traditional animation. This method can cause our timelines to balloon quickly but the Merge Takes feature helps us simplify them. Also, the new color coding of tracks has allowed us to make sense of complex timelines at a quick glance. The improved Lip Sync feature has saved us a lot of tedious correction work and improved our consistency across our large staff.”

The animation team at Nickelodeon also reported being able to use the new features to save time. Rob Kohr, Director of Animation and VFX, Creative & Design, at Nickelodeon explained that Beta tools enabled his team to work more collaboratively, even while working remotely.

You can watch the teaser for Your Daily Horoscope below.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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