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2D Character Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes


From:

2D Character Animation

with George Maestri

Video: Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes

Now in character animation, before you do any sort of animation, you first need to record your dialogue. Now in animation, dialogue tracks are recorded first. This makes it much easier to get a really good take and a good spontaneous bit of acting. Now, once you have that bit of recording, you have to read the tracks and actually get the phonemes. And then after that, you animate to the existing track. So basically record the dialogue, read the track to get the phonemes and then you animate to the track.
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  1. 2m 18s
    1. Introduction
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 16s
  2. 48m 21s
    1. Designing characters
      3m 22s
    2. Tracing characters
      4m 32s
    3. Creating joints that work
      3m 53s
    4. Working with outlines
      4m 0s
    5. Accessorizing your characters
      2m 21s
    6. Creating parts for replacement animation
      1m 41s
    7. Rigging hierarchies in After Effects
      5m 33s
    8. Rigging replacement animation in After Effects
      5m 52s
    9. Rigging with the Puppet tool in After Effects
      3m 16s
    10. Rigging Flash characters
      5m 50s
    11. Rigging replacement animation in Flash
      4m 25s
    12. Rigging with the Bone tool in Flash
      3m 36s
  3. 55m 29s
    1. The first law of motion
      3m 3s
    2. The second law of motion
      3m 45s
    3. The third law of motion
      3m 19s
    4. Using slow in and slow out
      5m 34s
    5. Arcs and smooth motion
      5m 4s
    6. Understanding overlap and follow-through
      5m 16s
    7. Animating overlap and follow-through
      5m 46s
    8. Understanding squash and stretch
      3m 10s
    9. Animating squash and stretch
      4m 40s
    10. Squashing and stretching characters
      5m 16s
    11. Understanding weight
      3m 27s
    12. Understanding anticipation
      4m 54s
    13. Animating anticipation and weight
      2m 15s
  4. 45m 50s
    1. Internal vs. external forces
      4m 45s
    2. Bringing characters to life
      4m 57s
    3. Animating blinks
      4m 37s
    4. Animating changes in eye direction
      2m 43s
    5. Animating head turns
      8m 1s
    6. Creating a strong line of action
      4m 16s
    7. Creating strong silhouettes
      2m 19s
    8. Pose-to-pose animation: Blocking
      4m 32s
    9. Pose-to-pose animation: Animating
      4m 21s
    10. Pose-to-pose animation: Finalizing
      5m 19s
  5. 46m 53s
    1. A walk in four poses
      2m 27s
    2. Motion of the head and body
      1m 32s
    3. Walk cycles and backgrounds
      1m 40s
    4. Skeleton motion and walking
      4m 2s
    5. Animating a walk: Contact position
      3m 0s
    6. Animating a walk: The feet
      9m 10s
    7. Animating a walk: The body
      5m 19s
    8. Animating a walk: The legs
      8m 21s
    9. Animating a walk: The upper body and arms
      3m 46s
    10. Animating a walk: The head
      2m 50s
    11. Animating a walk: Squash and stretch
      4m 46s
  6. 26m 52s
    1. A run in four poses
      4m 10s
    2. Animating a run: First pose
      4m 39s
    3. Animating a run: Second pose
      3m 45s
    4. Animating a run: Third pose
      3m 27s
    5. Animating a run: Fourth pose
      5m 1s
    6. Animating a run: Upper body
      5m 50s
  7. 37m 6s
    1. The basics of dialogue animation
      4m 35s
    2. Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes
      5m 33s
    3. Phonemes and lip-syncing
      8m 36s
    4. Animating dialogue: Animating the body
      6m 27s
    5. Animating dialogue: Assigning mouth shapes
      4m 10s
    6. Animating dialogue: Finalizing
      7m 45s
  8. 1h 27m
    1. Animating a scene
      2m 0s
    2. Setting up the scene in After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Animating the feet in After Effects
      10m 40s
    4. Animating the legs in After Effects
      4m 21s
    5. Animating the upper body in After Effects
      9m 44s
    6. Animating the mouth and blinks in After Effects
      7m 5s
    7. Setting up the scene in Flash
      4m 6s
    8. Animating the feet in Flash
      9m 0s
    9. Animating the body in Flash
      5m 23s
    10. Animating the legs in Flash
      7m 24s
    11. Animating the hands in Flash
      11m 54s
    12. Animating the mouth in Flash
      12m 26s
  9. 33s
    1. Goodbye
      33s

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2D Character Animation
5h 50m Advanced Nov 13, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Creating character joints that really work
  • Building with the Puppet tool in After Effects
  • Understanding internal versus external forces in movement
  • Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes for dialogue
  • Setting up a scene in both After Effects and Flash
Subjects:
3D + Animation Animation Character Animation
Author:
George Maestri

Reading tracks and assigning mouth shapes

Now in character animation, before you do any sort of animation, you first need to record your dialogue. Now in animation, dialogue tracks are recorded first. This makes it much easier to get a really good take and a good spontaneous bit of acting. Now, once you have that bit of recording, you have to read the tracks and actually get the phonemes. And then after that, you animate to the existing track. So basically record the dialogue, read the track to get the phonemes and then you animate to the track.

Now, when you are reading a track, one of the first things you will do is you will actually bring it up in the computer and you will see a visual representation of the waveform of the track. When you are looking at a waveform such as this in the computer, you will see that there are louder parts, which are the up and down parts here. So this is a loud part. Or a soft part. If you really take a look, you will see that the loud parts are vowels and the soft parts are consonants. So that means vowels are typically louder and consonants are quieter.

This is because remember, vowels are the open mouth sounds and consonants are the breaks between sounds. So consonants just by nature are going to be softer. So if you can look at this track here you can see that the vowels are little bit taller and the consonants are a little bit softer. So there is a consonant, a very short one, between these two vowels and here is another soft consonant. So that's a typical rule of thumb. But let's go ahead and read an actual track and see how it works.

So here I have a basic track and it's about 70 frames long. And I am going to go ahead and read it, but before we read it, let's go ahead and play in real time. (Recording: These pretzels are making me thirsty, these pretzels are making me thirsty.) So now that you have head the track, let's go ahead and scrub through it a little bit more slowly. So here we have the waveform that represents that track. So let's go ahead scrub through it a frame at a time and see what we get.

So the first word is "these." Now the dialogue track says these pretzels are making me thirsty. So the first bit of dialogue is when you can hear the word these. So this actual word is these. So you can also see that that's the TH, and this the E, and that's the S at the end. So you can see how we have the word "these." So you can see Th-eeee-ss.

So we have These. You can hear the P and even see that little mark here for the P, These pretzels, PRE. So there is pr-EH---tz---eh---lllll-ssssss. Let's actually go ahead and bring that up. So pretzels. So you can see here this part is actually the L and S, there are actually long consonants. Pretzels, so let's try that again. So that's pretzels. Are. Now I am using the phoneme sound.

So are is actually Ah and the letter R. So "are." You can see this is the M, Make, Marking. And now again we have got another M here, Me. So making me and the last word is thirsty. In fact if we take a look at this, we can almost figure it out just by looking at the waveform, what is it? Thirsty. So th-UR---ssss-t-eeee. That's pretty much what's it going to be.

You can almost look at the waveform and infer what the phonemes will be. So we can also see this as thirs-teee. Let's take a look at that. So you can actually get to the point where you can actually almost look at the waveform and by knowing the dialogue, you can pretty much see where everything is at. So we have thirs and this is S and then we have tee, which is that short consonant, and then t-eee and then the E. So we have th-UR---ssss--t--eeee.

So now that we have the track read, let's go ahead and play it back one more time, so you can see the phonemes against the sound in real time. (Recording: These pretzels are making me thirsty.) (Recording x2: These pretzels are making me thirsty.) So there you have the track read. Now when reading a track, be sure to match your phonemes against the waveform and once you have it, it's time to start animating dialogue.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about 2D Character Animation.


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Q: In the chapter "Creating joints that work,” the author uses a circular point for the joints in the arm animation. Do circles need to be drawn in the joints while tracing the character, or there is another method that can be used?
A: It doesn't absolutely have to be a circle, as shown in the video. However, that method is show because it’s the easiest way to make sure the joints will rotate easily.
It’s a matter of personal preference, so use whatever method will work best for each character.
 
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