Thursday, September 27, 2007

Crazy Talk promising animation tool for web apps

I’ve been having great fun with a new tool called Crazy Talk. It lets you create talking heads for your website that include automatic lip synching by just importing a .wav audio file. I have one on my web page. It does require installing a plugin but I read there is a way to automatically embed the player in the web page so installing a plugin is not necessary. I’m checking into it.:

http://uoregon.edu/~mharrsch

Here are some others I created:

http://uoregon.edu/~mharrsch/CrazyTalk/CrazyCleo.htm

http://uoregon.edu/~mharrsch/CrazyTalk/CrazyAntony.htm

A Talking Character can be created quite quickly. You simply import the image. Crop it. Then place indicators at the outside corner of each eye and outside corners of the lips. If you want to tweak the mouth shapes during lip synch there is a phoneme editor. You can also apply emotional animations. On the Marc Antony image, I applied an “angry” emotion.

The website where I got it is http://www.reallusion.com

I’ve also been working with their machinma software IClone. It’s quite impressive as well. I’ve created a couple of characters so far:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124324682@N01/sets/72157601884615693/

I created the Roman character in iClone using Ciaran Hind’s face (He played Caesar in HBO’s Rome). I used pictures of lorica segmentata I got from a reenactors’ supply website to create the armor using the costume design addin called “Clone Cloth”. The product not only lets you easily create figures with your own imported faces but can import motion capture files from other programs as well. I found a treasure trove of free motion capture files up on a website named bvh.com. iClone includes a BVH motion capture editor so you can match up the joints to the IClone avatars properly. Like Crazy Talk, the product also has a built-in automatic lip synch function so you just have to import a .Wav file and it automatically syncs the characters mouth and teeth to the words. It’s digital studio features are also quite impressive.

Here’s an iClone version of Act 2 scene 1 from Macbeth:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6K7PXf4nRI

You have complete control of the avatars and their movements, lighting, camera angle, atmospheric effects, etc. There is even a particle generator for fog, lightning, etc.

There’s over 100 iClone films on YouTube that you can find by simply searching for IClone.

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