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All animators must learn to walk before they can run. In 2D Character Animation, industry expert George Maestri teaches the basic principles every animator must know to build a foundation for more complex work. These principles are relevant regardless of software used or animation style. George explains how good animation depends on a firm knowledge of the laws of motion, which inform the principles of animation. He teaches the basics of creating characters, squash and stretch, pose-to-pose animation, walking and running, track reading, and dialogue animation. He also shows how to use After Effects and Flash to apply the tools learned in the course. Exercise files accompany this course.
Now that we have read the track and know where the phonemes lie in time, we can match up our mouth shapes to our phonemes. So let's go ahead and play the track, as we have read it. These pretzels are making me thirsty. (x2) These pretzels are making me thirsty. So now let's go ahead and insert in our mouth shapes. And I have already setup a simple set of mouths that has basically all the shapes that we need to animate to this dialog.
And let's go ahead and just do our animation. When we start animating we have to scrub against this waveform, recognize the phonemes and insert the proper mouth shape at the time. But we also, need to make sure that it all animates well together. It's not just a mechanical process of matching mouths to phonemes. You really have to make sure that the mouths flow properly in the animation context. So let's go ahead and do this. Now our first phoneme is going to be Th.
Let's go ahead and scrub this first word. (Recording: These...) So it goes "these," and you can see that the S is this kind of little tail end here. So up here is the Th, in the middle this broad part is the E and then at the end we have got the S. So we can almost just look at the timeline and see how this works. So right about here you can see this is where the Th starts. So I am going to go ahead and slug in that mouth sound. So I am going to keep it for two frames minimum.
So I am going to go here. We've started here at frame 2, and 3 our Th, then I go to frame 4 and I am in the middle of that E. If I insert in the E sound, you are going to see that I really don't have a lot of contrast between this Th and the E. So when it scrubs like this, you are going to see it's not really going to pop. If you wanted to be accurate, you could do it this way. But I am actually going to break one of my rules and that is I am going to actually open this mouth a little bit more, and I am going to put in the wrong mouth shape here.
I am actually going to put it an A just to get that mouth open a little bit more. Once I have got that A shape in, I can then bring it back down to the E. Now this will give a lot more contrast in how you animate. And then once I have that, then I am at the tail end where I have my S sound. So I am just putting in my hard consonant. Kind of closed teeth for the S.
So let's go ahead and scrub this. So you could see we have "these." Now just by opening the mouth here, you get a lot more contrast. And a lot of times when you are animating dialog you want to get contrast between your phonemes to make certain phonemes pop. So let's go on to the next word. These, okay now, the next one is pretzel. So we have got pr and then EH, puh-er-eh, pretzels.
So we need to put in actually three shapes in order to make this work. So right after the S sound, I am going to go ahead and animate that from frames 8 to 9 and then right here around frame 10, which is actually almost a little bit early, I am going to go ahead and put in that P sound. So I am just going to have a closed mouth shape, I am going to hold it for two frames and then I am going to go to an R shape.
Now what is an R shape? Well an R, if you think about it, R is almost the same as the Oo sound. So pr, puh-rr, but it's actually p-r and then we go into an EH, which would be this shape. So let's go ahead and scrub this. So we go Pa, two frames, r, two frames EH.
pr-EH and then we hold the Eh for a while and then we go into a teh, another t sound. And a T is a hard consonant so again we are just going to use that catchall consonant sound. So pr-EH-tz, I am going to hold that so that's a T and then we have eh-llll-ssss, these pretzels. Eh, that's not an e. That's not pretz-eels. It's pretz-uls. And so I am going to use that kind of EH sound.
So I am going to go ahead, and put in this Eh sound and hold that for a little bit. But as you can see on this timeline here, we have got actually a long L and then a long S. So let's go ahead and scrub through that. It goes from E to L to S. So it's kind of unspecific as to when this happens. So what I am going to do is this actually goes from about frame 19 to about frame 29. It's actually about 10 frames. So I am going to give each about 3 frames, just kind of break it up.
And we can actually almost see where the S starts. You can see this is where the L ends and this is where the S starts. So I am actually going to start my L right about here, and then hold it to about right before that start, again that is almost three frames, and then here at frame 26 I am going to go ahead and put in the S sound, which again is that hard consonant sound. And then right about here is where I am going to have the word "are." So I am just going to go ahead and close it.
Now typically, when animating dialog it's better to go a little bit early with the mouth shape then it is to go late. In fact, the Disney animators would always animate two frames ahead of where they were animating. Now a lot of this was because they would play their cartoons in big theaters and it would actually take a fraction of a second for the sound to actually hit the audience. Now for animating for something a little bit more immediate such as a TV or at the computer, you may want to animate right on the phoneme. It just depends, but typically it's better to go a little bit ahead, because it does take sound a little bit of time to hit the audience.
So here I am going to actually go a little bit early in my "are" shape. So I am going to go AH-r. And now the R again, the R shape is actually pretty much the same as the Ooh shape. R and again hold that for at least two frames, and then I have got my M shape. Making me thirsty. And again, it's just A. So now, we have worked away about half way through this track and you can see what the process is.
It's really just scrubbing through the track, seeing where the phonemes are and applying the proper mouth shape to the phonemes. So let's go ahead and see the final version of this. (Recording: These pretzels are making me thirsty, these pretzels are making me thirsty.) So there's the final version. So let's go ahead and scrub through it once just to see how this works in slow motion. (Recording: These pretzels are making me thirsty.) So there we go, these pretzels are making me thirsty.
So as you animate your phonemes to the track be sure to get contrast between your phonemes, so that your vowels will go ahead and pop out of your consonants and be sure also to give at least two frames per a phoneme so that your dialog doesn't appear chattery. So that's how you get your mouth assigned to your sound track.
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