Animated Avatars

Hey, all!

I'm currently looking into using animated avatars.  I have little animation experience, so I'm looking for an easy-to-use tool.  I'm also looking for something that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  Any thoughts, suggestions, and warnings are welcome.

I've taken a short look at:

-Codebaby (too expensive)

-CrazyTalk (looks cool, but seems to only animate the face, which may be okay)

-MediaSemantics (again, looks cool, but the art seems a bit outdated)

Thanks!

12 Replies
Jerson  Campos

Hey Matthew,

I've been looking at CrazyTalk as well. They have two version CrazyTalk (just faces) and CrazyTalk Animator (Whole Characters)  You can see a sample somebody did with CrazyTalk Animator and one of my characters here .  It's pretty rough, but it's got potential.

Another program that I have actually used and liked is AnimeStudio.  There is a standard and pro version. It is fairly easy to use and has a great support community (last time I checked)

Both programs can animate raster and vector based images.  I think AnimeStudio Pro is more robust then CrazyTalk Animator, but CrazyTalk might be easier to use.

byron tik

I've been playing with ct animator pro, flash and anime studio pro, all have their perks, good thing about anime studio pro is the shapes are vector and the bones make the shape change form depending on the movement, in ct animator the shapes(arms/legs) are rigid cut outs that move with the bones, the face can morph nicely in crazy talk.

I render them as videos, you'll just have to work on a white background to integrate them into storyline, keep the movements short and simple (less is more).

Cheers

Byron

Jerson  Campos

I believe Anime Studio can exports in swf format and crazy talk animator can export as .flv format.  Both should have a transparent background. 

Anime Studio allows for precise control and could create some smooth animation using vector based art. Crazy Talk animator does use "cut outs" for the various body parts, but seems to be more focused on making the animation process easier. I would take a look at some of the tutorials for both and see what you think about them.  

byron tik

Hi Jerson

The transparent background is great, and can be used but in Storyline will be nullified when using the html5 publish, using flv the background goes black or white and using swf breaks the presentation or it just doesn't render anything, you could solve this possible by having a still image under the swf file, but I have not tried this yet. If HTML5 matters, you best render it as a video.

My understanding is that HTML 5 predominantly if not only impacts IOS devices and or computers without flash installed (which is a significant amount) HTML 5 is also future proofing your course, often it is easier to edit the source, which may be of importance to the client.

More about animation

Crazytalk 7 is very easy to get into and tutorials are good, you can then progress into CT Animator and eventually go into IClone (3d), they have some great resources, some very useful ready made stuff, and deals on packs, the strongest features are puppet animation and facial animation, you can get your images/characters to talk in no time, great for a laugh, inexpensive and professionally useful. You'll have to embrace the "paper cutout' look and feel, and make it work for you, don't try realism, unless you are sticking to portraits(close ups of faces).

Alternatively Anime studio pro is a nice piece of software depending on your style. This is vector based, so you'll be able to create crisp animations and limbs and body parts stretch and shape to the underlying bone structure. You could get stuck in a manga / southpark style.

For 3d there is IClone, Poser, Blender and Daz3d some of these are free I believe, just depends what you are trying to achieve, poser has some great options for human anatomy (bones and muscles)

Adobe Flash is really the powerhouse for vector based animation, and the sky is the limit but may be a bit heavy for some as some Adobe programs may be a bit overwhelming at first, especially when the alternatives have such a low threshold,

 

Adobe After effects is great for producing video reels best described as Photoshop on steroids. Some easy effects can be achieved with apple Imovie or Adobe Premiere, especially using the Ken Burns effect on a still image is much better than a still image in storyline and doesn't make the file that big (loop this by using two layers in storyline)

For those frontend coders, you can use jquery combined with paralax, embed this in storyline to get some great effects

or use Adobe Edge or Tumult Hype for HTML 5 compliant animation

If you are already familiar with Photoshop, try using the motion options to create animated GIFs, it's easy, powerful, lightweight and compatible with Storyline. You have to consider how you can animate onionskin style, i.e. by moving one layer on top of the next, or changing layers through changing style or opacity.

Some nice animated stock can be found here and on other places

animations http://activeden.net/ 

video http://videohive.net/

No matter how easy it is, we still struggle to apply all of this inside the courses, not waste oodles of time and set expectations to high when there is one piece of great animation.

An initial approach is to create a small standard set of avatars with some simple basic movements e.g. blinking eyes, smiling to normal, change stance etc. a few little animating objects, and go from there. Combining tiny bits of animation with a static image can do wonders,

Cheers

PS. Beware animation can be highly addictive for some)

Nancy Woinoski

Hi Matthew, you mentioned CrazyTalk 7 as an option. If you want to see it in play I used it when I created this Articulate Showcase example for Studio 13.  This one has not been optimized for iPad as I produced it before the html5 options were ready.

http://demos.articulate.com/showcase/studio/SunSafetyGame-PinchedHead/presentation.html

Jerson  Campos

Just to add a note about Adobe After Effects. There is a free plugin called DUIK that makes rigging and animating characters very easy. You still need some animating knowledge, but I find this as a much better alternative to trying to animate characters in Flash.  The only other alternative would be Anime Pro for character animations.

Here is a animation test I did in After Effects with the DUIK plugin.

https://youtu.be/20geJ02ub3o