Speech-Aware animation is one of the key features of Adobe Character Animator, which now also included head and eyebrow movements corresponding to a voice recording.
Adobe announced a version of Character Animator with new features that is entering public Beta and will be available in Creative Cloud later this year. Notably, says the company, “one of these beta features is Speech-Aware animation powered by Adobe Sensei that automatically generates animation from recorded speech and now adds head and eyebrow movements corresponding to a voice recording. You may remember this from the sneaks at Adobe MAX in 2019 as Project Sweet Talk. Other new public Beta features include Improved Lip Synch, Limb IK, timeline organization tools, and much more.”
Lip Synch, was first revealed at NAB 2015, when Adobe announced new and future updates to Premiere Pro and After Effects and other Adobe software. Adobe Character Animator may have slipped unnoticed to some, but it pointed to the dawn of a new era when it comes to character animation. Put simply, Adobe Character Animator tracks your facial movements, lets you record dialogue or a voice performance and enables you to trigger actions with your keyboard that give life to characters created in Illustrator CC or Photoshop CC.
Beta is being used in RL production
The first presentation of Lip Synch showed that the technology was not up to the standards some need for their work, but, as we wrote then “being able to do it without having to take a degree and spending hours trying to get the desired effects is going to be appreciated by all those who need to do character animation.” We also noted, then, that “although the program seems limited to 2D animation – at least now -, the possibility to work with characters created by each user opens new venues for a commercial use of the program.”
That’s is already happening, with popular shows like The Loud House (Nickelodeon), Tooning Out the News (CBS All Access), Our Cartoon President (Showtime) and Your Daily Horoscope (Quibi) using the software, as Erica K. Schisler, an artist, filmmaker and software technologist who manages manages User Engagement for Adobe Character Animator writes in a blog post at Adobe.
According to Rob Kohr, director of animation and VFX, creative and design at Nickelodeon. In May 2020, while working remotely, the Nickelodeon team virtually created The Loud House & The Casagrandes, Hangin’ At Home special, which featured original animation of characters Lincoln Loud and Ronnie Anne having a dialog about what it’s like at home. To help make this happen remotely, we used the Character Animator Beta lip-synch tool, which saved our animators a ton of time by providing a much more natural lip-synch and allowing the team to work more collaboratively.”
CBS All Access uses Beta
Another example of a production benefiting from new public Beta features and improvements in Character Animator comes from Stephen Brooks, director of animation, responsible for Tooning Out the News from CBS All Access, who said “The new Lip Sync Beta hits better and more often and has made live animation passes better out of the gate.”
Erica K. Schisler writes that “animation is having a major moment. At a time when live action content is challenging to produce, animation allows us to create without restraints and with nothing more than our imagination, no matter what is going on outside. More and more artists and studios are turning to Emmy Award-winning Adobe Character Animator to accelerate traditional animation workflows, capturing performances in real-time and even livestreaming animation.”
The growing interest for animation explains why the Adobe Character Animator team is working hard. As suggested back in 2015, when the app was first announced, the team wants to support aspiring and experienced animators with new features and workflows to make the animation process even more efficient. That’s also the reason why the new version of Adobe Character Animator is available in public Beta: so creatives can try it and give feedback to the developers, to make the product better.