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The basics of dialogue animation

From: 2D Character Animation

Video: The basics of dialogue animation

If you ever want your characters to talk or speak, you are going to have to learn to animate dialogue and lip sync. Animating dialogue means you are syncing the entire character to the sound. Now, this of course means syncing the mouth so that the mouths line up with the soundtrack. But more importantly, it means syncing the body or the character to the sound. Let me show you an example. Here we have a simple character. Now, if all we did was animate just the mouth, you would only be animating this much of the character.

The basics of dialogue animation

If you ever want your characters to talk or speak, you are going to have to learn to animate dialogue and lip sync. Animating dialogue means you are syncing the entire character to the sound. Now, this of course means syncing the mouth so that the mouths line up with the soundtrack. But more importantly, it means syncing the body or the character to the sound. Let me show you an example. Here we have a simple character. Now, if all we did was animate just the mouth, you would only be animating this much of the character.

All of this would be dead and really what the audience sees is the entire character. So you need to make sure to animate the other part of the character as well. So when you do that, you animate the entire character. So make sure you animate the character, not just the mouth. Now, with that in mind, let's talk a little bit about the mouth. Now, when you animate the mouth to the soundtrack, you are animating what are called phonemes. Now, phonemes really are just the shapes of the mouths that make the fundamental sounds of dialogue, and we will get to those in just a minute.

But phonemes really fall into two categories. There are vowels, which are open mouth sounds, and so of course these are A, E, I, O and U. They are made by opening the mouth. That's what makes the sound. In between the vowels, we have what are called consonants, and those are closed mouth sounds. So anything that interrupts a vowel is a consonant. Now, when you animate phonemes, be sure to open your mouth quickly and close it slowly.

You really want to get a good contrast when you open your mouth. When you go to something like an A or an I, one of those ones that has a very large mouth, make sure you just open that very quickly. You want to make sure that you have 2 frames minimum. So in other words, keep every mouth or every phoneme on the screen for at least 2 frames. If you animate a phoneme only over one frame, it's going to get lost and it's going to look like noise. The eye really only can catch it if it's on for 2 frames.

Now, there is going to be times when your dialogue is actually faster than 2 frames. So in that case, don't try to hit every phoneme. If the phonemes are going faster than 2 frames per phoneme, then just try and get a good general guide or just kind of interpolate it so it looks good. But if you try and hit every phoneme, you are going to get mouths that look very chattery and we don't want that to happen. So with that in mind, let's go ahead and take a look at the phonemes themselves. The first one we have is A and I, which is kind of an open mouth.

And this is really probably the largest of the phonemes that has the mouth opened the widest. After that we have the one for EH and UH which are kind of more of the softer vowel sounds and that has the mouth a little bit more closed. Then we have the Eeee sound, which is a broader mouth. After that, we have OH and Oooh, and these are both just circular mouths and one is closed a little bit smaller to make the Oooh sound and when it's a little bit wider, it's OH and these are all vowels.

Now, for the consonants, we have the first one is the closed mouth, which is for sounds like M, B or P. And then we have the hard consonant sounds which are ones such as C, D, G, J, K, S, T, X and Z. These are all kind of the hard types of consonants that really only happen over 2 frames. Typically, these sorts of consonants will be animated at about 2 frames. They are very, very short. Then we have the longer consonant sounds, such as this shape for F and V, which has the lip tucked up under the teeth.

Then we have one for T, H and L, which has the tongue tucked up under the teeth. Now, all of these together can be used to make very convincing dialogue. Now of course these are just one style of drawing. Your characters may be very different but if you get the same general mouth shapes, you should be able to animate dialogue. So remember, when you are animating dialogue to animate the entire character, not just the mouth, and when you animate mouths make sure that you get your phonemes right.

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This video is part of

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2D Character Animation

73 video lessons · 22060 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
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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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