In public Beta now: New features in Adobe Character Animator
Adobe Character Animator uses performance capture to bring characters to life.
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 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 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. Speech-Aware Animation was developed by Adobe Research and previewed at Adobe MAX in 2019 as Project Sweet Talk. The feature requires Windows 10 or macOS 10.15.
- Limb IK (Inverse Kinematics) gives puppets responsive, natural arm and leg motion for activities like running, jumping, 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 key frames. 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 improved algorithms and machine learning, which now delivers more accurate mouth movement for speaking parts.
- Merge Takes allows users to combine multiple Lip Sync or Triggers 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, for example if you inadvertently move your face out of the frame.
How the new public Beta features in Character Animator are helping artists deliver
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. “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 takes 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,” says Your Daily Horoscope supervising director Tim Herrold.
The team behind Nickelodeon’s 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. 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,” says Rob Kohr, director of animation and VFX, creative and design at Nickelodeon.
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,” says Stephen Brooks, director of animation.
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,” Brooks says.
Try the new public Beta features now
Character Animator is available for download via the Creative Cloud desktop application, including both the release version and the public Beta. The Beta build includes all of the new features described here. Character Animator comes with a library of starter puppets and tutorials for new users.