Professional Animation That’s Faster (and More Fun)
Meet the fall 2019 release of Character Animator.
Since its beginnings as a public beta, Adobe Character Animator has transformed the art of animation. What used to be a manual process of keyframed illustrations is now performance-based storytelling that can be recorded, or even live-streamed, in real time.
Character Animator has earned its place as a professional application, complementing traditional tools and empowering storytellers, animation studios, and agencies to bring artwork to life. The latest release (version 3.0) improves efficiency and creative control with keyframes, and allows artists to enhance performances with audio triggers and motion lines, and craft stories with scene cameras.
The Character Animator workflow
As with traditional animation, the Character Animator worklow begins with your artwork and typically ends in an editing application, like Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s everything in-between that’s different. The layers in your Photoshop or Illustrator art become the riggable elements in your character puppet. Character Animator uses a camera and microphone to capture your voice, expressions, and head movements, to animate your puppet, alongside keyboard or controller inputs to trigger movements, behaviors, and poses. You can record takes and choose the best one or combine parts of different takes to get a result you like. Changes are all non-destructive, so there are no costly do-overs. Face tracking, walk cycles, lip synch, physics, layer cycles, transformations, and interactions are adjustable in the scene, before, during, and well after the initial capture.
With these tools, you can livestream animated performances while they happen. And, while that’s already pretty impressive, Character Animator has a whole other level of superpowers: Replays. With Replays you can save any piece of recording to the puppet file itself, building a library of signature actions, poses, moves, sounds and looks for your character that can be activated, on the fly, within live or recorded performance. From a creative point of view, Replays allow you to shape your character’s distinctive personality. In terms of productivity, Replays make your workflow incredibly efficient – and increasingly so over time as you grow the Replay catalogs of your characters.
So what’s new in this release?
The 3.0 release of Character Animator rounds out the feature set, providing a comprehensive workflow for animation studios and content creators who wants to explore the art and expand their storytelling.
Add narrative dynamics with new scene cameras. Set up shots within your scenes, like wide, close-up, and zoom and create camera moves between them. Cut between two characters in a scene or smoothly pan back and forth as they interact. Create triggers for your scene cameras for added efficiency in production or richer storytelling in your livestreams.
Keyframes add precision and creative control for animating story elements and your characters. Keyframes in Character Animator allow you to position and time a character or background element in the scene, as well as fine-tuning the physics behaviors of interactive elements, such as wind strength and gravity direction. You can also keyframe camera moves across your scenes. Keyframes can be triggered on-the-fly to add impact to live performances!
Keyframes and scene cameras make it much easier for some content creators to go end-to-end using just Photoshop or Illustrator for their artwork and Character Animator to animate for simple, short-form pieces.
Audio triggers and motion lines
Elements such as sounds and secondary animations enrich storytelling, emphasize actions, add comical exaggeration, and help to distinguish the personalities of individual characters. The latest release of Character Animator gives you more of these tools with new triggerable audio and motion lines.
Enliven your scenes by adding triggerable audio, like a character’s signature sound, spoken exclamation, or musical phrase, or trigger audience applause or laugh tracks right on cue. Your characters become more dynamic and your animation workflows become simpler with audio automatically synched to the triggerable animated actions or performance timing. Use or record your own audio elements, or choose clips from the free Audition Sound Effects library.
Use motion lines to communicate movement. Simply add the behavior to a handle in your character’s rigging, then adjust its parameters, to trail the character’s motion with colored lines of varying width, opacity, lifespan, and other attributes, emphasizing motion, illustrating speed and trajectory.
Improving production efficiency: camera-based Muting and Save Version
Prevent off-screen voices from triggering automatic lip-sync with camera-based muting. Character Animator already auto-saves your work as you go, but a new Save Version function allows you to save and track iterations of your project as you go.
Who uses Character Animator?
On May 15, 2016, Character Animator made history with the first live animation for broadcast TV. “Simprovised” was a three-minute Q&A with Homer Simpson, driven in real-time by voice actor, Dan Castellaneta. On the Late Show Stephen Colbert began doing live interviews with animated versions of political figures. This spun off into Our Cartoon President (Showtime). As new animation studios and agencies came on board, Character Animator has been used on projects ranging from a live broadcast of the Penfold character from British children’s classic Danger Mouse to clever content such like Safety Action Team Go, which turns corporate safety videos into Saturday morning cartoons (we’re not making this up!). Social media content creators have been adopting Character Animator too. YouTuber GetMadz has a vlog-style channel that is entirely animated. And we get a kick out of fan channels like Instagrammer Robb Clayton with his tribute to rock bank Cheap Trick respectzander.
With Character Animator you can create high-quality animations faster and more cost-effectively than the alternatives. It leverages other Adobe tools, like Photoshop, After Effects, and Premiere Pro, providing a comprehensive solution for animated storytelling.
Learn more about the latest release of the Adobe video and audio applications.
Get started (and get inspired)
Download the latest release of Adobe Character Animator today. It comes with a whole set of pre-built puppets and tutorials to get you started. Our own Dave Werner, a designer on the Character Animator team, has a YouTube channel called Okay Samurai with a ton of tips, tricks, news, and inspiration.