Latest version, now available, includes new features designed to enable accelerated workflows and real-time performance capture.
Adobe has just released a new Public Beta version of its Emmy Award-winning Adobe Character Animator software program, with a number of new features all designed to enable more accelerated traditional animation workflows, capture performances in real-time, and even livestream animation.
At a time when live-action content is challenging to produce, animation allows creation without restraints and with nothing more than our imagination, no matter what is going on outside.
According to Adobe, their Character Animator team is working hard to support aspiring and experienced animators with new features and workflows to make the animation process even more efficient. As of today, many of the new features coming later this year to Character Animator are now in public Beta. These include:
- Speech-Aware Animation uses the power of Adobe Sensei to automatically generate animation from recorded speech and includes head and eyebrow movements corresponding to a voice recording. Developed by Adobe Research and previewed at Adobe MAX in 2019 as Project SweetTalk, on mac OS this feature currently requires 10.15 or later.
- Limb IK (Inverse Kinematics) gives puppets responsive, natural leg motion for activities like running, jumping, tug-of-war, and dancing across a scene. Limb IK controls the bend directions and stretching of legs, as well as arms. For example, pin a hand in place while moving the rest of the body or make a character’s feet stick to the ground as it squats in a more realistic way.
- Timeline organization tools include the ability to filter the Timeline to focus on individual puppets, scenes, audio, or keyframes. Takes can be color-coded, hidden, or isolated, making it faster and easier to work with any part of your scene. Toggle the “Shy button” to hide or show individual rows in the Timeline.
- Lip Sync, powered by Adobe Sensei, has an improved algorithm and machine learning to deliver more accurate mouth movement for speaking parts.
- Merge Takes allows users to combine multiple Lip Sync or Trigger takes into a single row, which helps to consolidate takes and save vertical space on the Timeline.
- Pin Feet has a new Pin Feet When Standing option. This allows the user to keep their character’s feet grounded when not walking.
- Set Rest Pose now animates smoothly back to the default position when you click to recalibrate, so you can use it during a live performance without causing your character to jump abruptly.
Examples of how the new public Beta features in Character Animator are being used in prominent animated series productions
ATTN:’s Your Daily Horoscope has been a hit on Quibi. With 12 new segments each weekday, the use of the new public beta features is already making an impact. According to the show’s Supervising Director, Tim Herrold, “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.”
Read AWN’s Your Daily Horoscope profile and interview with ATTN:’s Taye Shuayb
Quibi’s ‘Your Daily Horoscope’ Delivers Zodiac Wit in 2-Minute ‘Bites’
The team at Nickelodeon behind The Loud House & The Casagrandes, Hangin’ At Home half-hour special virtually produced the episode using Character Animator. “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,” said Rob Kohr, Director of Animation and VFX, Creative & Design, at Nickelodeon. “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.”
Tooning Out the News from CBS All Access is also benefiting from the new public beta features and improvements in Character Animator. “The new Lip Sync beta hits better and more often and has made live animation passes better out of the gate,” Stephen Brooks, Director of Animation, noted.
With the use of the Timeline Organization tools, such as Snap to Playhead and Timeline Search they can focus on their workflow to make it easier to adjust tracks after they're done, especially on more complicated shots.
Improved and streamlined Replay functions have helped to build a library of reliable and well-constructed animated segments that can be reused instantly. “This has made scenes where a character turns around or plays guitar much more manageable and at a higher quality than we'd ever been able to achieve in near-live use,” he added.
Read AWN’s Tooning Out the News profile and interview with showrunners R.J. Fried and Tim Luecke
Even a Pandemic Can’t Stop Politics from Being Funny on ‘Tooning Out the News’
Try the new public Beta features now; Character Animator is available for download via the Creative Cloud desktop application and includes an in-app library of starter puppets and tutorials. More details about the public Beta program can be found here.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.