Skip to main content

Animating My Artwork with CrazyTalk Animator 3 (Pipeline) - Animation Breakdown

Turning my 2003 artwork, A Cow's Tail
into an animation with CrazyTalk Animator 3.
Previously I've shown you how to animate your artwork with Reallusion's CrazyTallk 8, an app designed to make the creation of talking head style animations easy and quick.

In this article I'm going to take the same Cow's Tail artwork and animate it with Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 (Pipeline Edition) just to show you the additional animation options that this application can bring to your production.

Note: At the time of writing Reallusion is weeks away from launching Cartoon Animator 4, the next iteration of CrazyTalk Animator which has been rebranded to better reflect its ambition as a complete 2D animation studio. Everything discussed in this article can be done in Cartoon Animator 4.

What is CrazyTalk Animator 3?

CrazyTalk Animator 3 (CTA3) is designed to be a complete 2D animation composition studio. That is, you'll use external graphic editors like Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, or CC Animate to create your assets before bringing them into CTA3 to set up your scenes and animate the action.

Where it excels is the ease of use and the many time saving features that greatly speed up the animation process when compared with other applications.

CTA3 is an evolution of CrazyTalk 8 which in earlier versions was exclusively a 2D animation tool. As such CTA3 includes the same head creation tools for what it calls 'Morph base' heads.

Additionally it includes many different types of character rigging tools, and gives you the ability to animate complete character bodies, props, backgrounds, almost anything in 2D really. Unlike CrazyTalk 8 you can include multiple characters in the same scene.

My completed animation, created with CTA3 is below.



If you would prefer to watch a detailed video of how I created my animation in CrazyTalk Animator 3,  I've got you covered below. Otherwise skip to the next heading for a more general overview of the process.



Preparation

All of my graphical components that will
make up the animation. Notice everything
is cropped right up to the image edges,
except for the head which has a 50 pixel
border all the way around.
As with CrazyTalk 8 the first step is to spend time preparing your graphics in your prefered graphics editor. Anything will do so long as it's capable of saving images as transparent PNGs and, if you intend to use CTA3's templates, as PSD files.

This time I'll not only separate the cow's head and eyes from it's body, I'll also separate the cow's tail, the field behind the cow, and the sky.

Everything except the sky (which I could have optionally save as a JPG file) is saved as transparent PNG files.

Unlike my CrazyTalk 8 project, this time I rotated my cow's head so it wasn't turned to one side, and I cropped it much closer, leaving a 50 pixel border all the way around it (the border was to try an overcome a problem I was having with the morph based head not properly masking the cow's ears).

All other components I cropped right up to their edges.

Quadruped PSD G3 Character Template

The PSD Template for my Cow. All the dots represent
bone placements. If you look at the layer list you'll
see this character has just three images.
CTA3 Pipeline is sold with bonus PSD file G3 character templates with one specifically for quadrupeds from a side facing angle.

While my cow character only has a few sprites (i.e. images) that I could have uploaded into a G3 quadruped dummy template directly in CTA3 (which is how you'll create all your characters if you only have the Pro edition of CTA3) using the PSD templates can save you a lot of time with more complex characters.

I could also have rigged my character as a 'Freebone' G3 character however, by using the quadruped G3 template my character can be animated with predefined G3 motions for quadrupeds.

Whichever way you rig your character you only need to include a single image of your character's head because once you're in CTA3's character composer you'll be converting that image into a morph based head.

For a detailed explanation for how to use the PSD templates consult the documentation sold with CTA3 and make use of the many Video Tutorials from the CTA3 Learning Centre.

Setting Up the Animation in CrazyTalk Animator 3

Obviously CTA3 is a much more complex application than CrazyTalk 8 with more to set up if you want to include things like animating your character's body or create a multiplane effect. I won't be able to go into any of it in great detail but I can give you the broad strokes.

Rigging My Cow as a G3 Quadruped Character

Dummy Horse Character.
As mentioned earlier I set my cow character up in a G3 quadruped template. This meant rigging my character in CTA was as easy as starting with a standard dummy horse G3 character, going into the character composer and importing my PSD file using the PSD Import Tool. Character done...well almost.

Adding the Morph Based Head.

My cow character already has a face image. The next step is to convert this into a Morph based head. Conveniently there is a 'Convert to Morph-based Head' option right under the Create Head tool.

Selecting this will start you through the very same process of rigging the head that I covered in more detail in my previous article Animate Your Artwork with CrazyTalk 8 (Pipeline).

Note though, that while the process is the same CTA3's Morph Head creator appears to be more buggy and can give unexpected (and downright inaccurate) previews of how you've rigged your head.

Previews can looked scrunched up and wildly distorted but, if you exit the head creator, your character's head will look more how you'd expect. Then if you go back into the editor the preview will look fine until you start making edits and preview again. All of this could be a bug that has been fixed by the time you read this, or it could be unique to my copy. I'm mentioning it just in case the issue occurs for you.

Background and Scene

My scene as displayed in 3D view.
My background I divided into two graphics; the field, and the sky. This was so I could set up a multiplane camera effect on CTA3 Stage Z axis. Each image is imported into CTA3 as a prop and placed from closest to furthest away from the camera.

In terms of scale the sky is resized at a much larger scale to the field because it's sitting much further away from the camera.

The more distance you put between each item the more parallax effect you'll get when you pan the camera in any direction.

My cow character I placed quite far forward at the front (obviously) because it's closest to the camera and, having no legs, the lower body needed to be cropped by the camera frame.

Animation

There were three main stages in the animation of this project after I had imported my cow's dialogue and let the auto lip sync do its magic (I did tweak this a little but for the most part it did a good job).

Animating the Cow's Body

Pre-animated Horse Motions.
This was done entirely with pre-animated G3 motions. I used a basic looping horse walk for the first few seconds, as the cow walks into shot, followed by a looping idle pose that makes the body sway slightly and causes the tail to flick periodically.

Animating the Cow's Face and Head

I'm a lazy animator (yes, I said it!). I don't enjoy the process of animating as much as I enjoy seeing the finished results so, anything that gets me there quicker is my friend. That's why I love the ability to 'face puppet' character animation in CTA3.

Starting at the beginning of the animation, I opened up the Face Puppet tool, hit record, and moved my cow's head as best I could to match the dialogue and music. I know I could do better with key framing and using the template expressions but for the purpose of a quick demonstration, I love the face puppet tool.

The Face Puppet editor is your friend if
you need to animate something quickly.

Face Key Editor.
The only thing I couldn't do with the face puppet tool is move my cow's head closer and further away as it moved its neck up and down - something you'd expect from a creature with a longish neck.

So I did a second pass using the Face Key Editor and manually key framed the head moving closer and further away.

Animating the Camera

The final step was to animate the camera to pan right at the same time as the cow walked into shot. I had planned a much bigger pan across so it would be more obvious but it didn't look great.

The slower shorter pan is barely noticeable unless you're watching for it but I still think it looks better than the camera being totally stationary as the cow walks into shot. Creating the pan only required two key frames; the start and the end points.

Adding the Audio

On top of character voice tracks CTA3 has two sound effect tracks and one music track. My animation uses one voice track and the music track.

Prior to animating I synced up my audio with the music in Audacity. I then exported the voice track separately from the music but made sure the length of both files was exactly the same. That way I could just line up the start of the audio file in CTA3's timeline and they'd be perfectly in sync.

After all the animation was done, I imported the music track, turned the volume down by 50% because it was a little loud for my vocal... and that was that.

Buy the Source Graphics to this Project


If you would like to step through this process using my cow character graphics, all the image files are available to purchase in my Animation and Video Life website store. Your purchase includes a non exclusive license to use the graphics in your own personal and commercial projects.

Comments

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular posts from this blog

The Ultimate Independent Animator's App and Resource List 2019 - Animation and Video Life

Being an independent animator is not like a studio animation job. There's so much more to do that is indirectly related to the actual task of animating. Over the years I've sought out many apps, tools, and services that can help me achieve that one single task, expressing myself through animation.

Below is my Ultimate Independent Animator's Resource List for 2019. It started out as a list of free or low cost apps that could help you in every stage of producing either 2D or 3D animation, and then just kind of grew from there.

You may not have been looking for a Time Management App as much as you needed something to get you started in 3D animation but when those commissioned projects start coming in you'll have a head start on maximizing your time.

All the apps and services on this list had to meet two main criteria:

They had to be useful and relevant to an Indy Animator/artist.The base app/service had to be US$200.00 or less.
(In the case of a subscription service that&…

Eric W. Schwartz: Cartoonist, Animator and Amiga Die Hard

American Cartoonist, Eric W. Schwartz, (whose unofficial Amiga Icon, Amy the Squirrel, is pictured on the July 92 edition of CU Amiga cover on the right) is my only real animation hero. Sure there are the big names like Disney, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and even Preston Blair whose influences can all be seen in my own cartoons but Eric did what none of the others could. He showed that really great 2D computer animation was within my reach with little more than an Amiga Computer, a copy of Deluxe Paint and Moviesetter.

This was at a time when computer based animation was in its infancy (outside of computer game animation) and Flash was something that lights did.

There were many great Amiga artists but Eric was really the only one consistently making very funny, traditional style animations. His humor and drawing style is heavily influenced by classic Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons but he managed to build on this, creating something that was recognizably Eric's own style.

I've…

Review: CrazyTalk Animator 3 vs Moho Studio Pro 12

Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 or Smith Micro's Moho Studio Pro 12. Which of these 2D animation applications is right for you?

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a strong supporter, and fairly proficient user of CrazyTalk Animator since version 1. It's a great piece of software for producing 2D animations from purchased content quickly and, with version 3, is easier than ever to create animations from your own art.

Lesser known is that I first purchased Moho Studio Pro 12 (then known as Anime Studio Pro 9) back in October of 2012 and have been upgrading it to the latest version ever since because I believed in it as an application for creating great 2D animation to TV quality standard. As such, it's a much more complex application than CTA3 that I only got around to learning properly late last year. I'm still in the process of blogging my progress.

Despite this I feel I've learned enough of Moho to compare it to CTA3 to help you determine which …

Learn Moho Pro 12 Free Using SmithMicro's Own 104 Video Tutorials Sorted into a Logical Order of Progression

So you've bought Smith Micro's Moho Pro 12 along with the Moho, 10 hour, 104 Video Tutorials Add On pack so you can get learning right away... only you can't. For whatever reason, the video tutorials aren't sorted into any logical order of progression making them hard to follow.

Yeah, I've been there, only I've done what Smith Micro should have done and sorted all the video tutorials into a logical order of natural progression for you. That is, each tutorial builds upon what you learned in previous videos and you won't suddenly come up against some feature you've never used before, unless that feature is what the video tutorial is about.

Voice All Your Own Animated Characters with Voice Changer

Voice Changer by AVSoft is real time voice manipulation software that can be used for a wide range of purposes including (according to their website); Voice-over and voice dubbing for audio/video clips, presentations, narrations, voice messages, voice mails, E-greeting cards, broadcasting, etc.; mimic the voice of any person, create animal sounds, change/replace/remove voices in songs, videos,etc.

I bought it for the specific purpose of changing my own voice, to extend my vocal range, for voicing characters in my own animations.
I was fortunate enough to get this software at a significant discount that made it difficult to refuse, given that I'd never tried it, or even heard of it before. I'm not sure if I would have bought it at the full price given that much of what it can do (for my needs) can also be done with the freeware audio program, Audacity.
Voice Changer is relatively easy to install and set up. Once installed simply change you default microphone to the installed AV…

Should You Buy or Upgrade to MOHO 13? *Spoiler* Yes. Yes You Should!

Smith Micro released MOHO 13, their all in one, 2D animation studio, this week. The question is should you buy or upgrade to the latest version? Obviously I've already spoiled this in the title, so the actual question is why do I think you should buy or upgrade?

To be clear, I'm only talking about MOHO 13 Pro. If you're considering MOHO 13 Debut be aware that you're missing out on some of the new features, and a lot of existing features that are only available in the Pro version. Debut is fine if the budget doesn't stretch to Pro, but, if you never want to be disappointed about not having a feature, it's Pro or nothing!

The other thing I need to be transparent about is I'm not, by any stretch, a frequent MOHO user/animator. However I took the time to learn MOHO 12 Pro fairly extensively, blogging about my process and sorting out 104 free MOHO training videos into a logical viewing order in the process. I think I have more than enough insight to let you kno…

Springboard - Fast Digital Storyboarding on a Budget

Storyboarding an animation is one of my least favorite parts of the creative process and yet it's also one of the most important after writing the script. It's where the planning of the visual representation of the script takes place.

The Problem....

I've struggled with storyboarding because I knew there had to be a better way than drawing tiny thumbnails on a sheet of paper with script and camera direction notes crammed underneath - an example of which can be found in my post for my music video animation, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. This method isn't exactly client friendly as my handwriting scrawls can become unreadable even to me over time.

The other technique I employed was using the storyboarding features of Celtx Script Writing Software. Celtx allows you to import your scanned thumbnails (or any digital image) into its storyboard where you can add text and camera direction into scrollable text boxes below each image - and never run out of room. I employed th…