(note: strong language)
I've been captured by the real-time facial puppeteering in iClone4 and exploring the use of it through a series of monologue animations. For now, I'm enjoying Charles Bukowski's pieces from, 'The last night of the Earth poems," collection of poetry. The short writings fit well for a project that's about 1.5 - 2 minutes in total. Since the goal for me at the moment is to create completed projects, but in a short period of time. Poetry as spoken word really works to meet that requirement and also is great for the muse.
Once I recorded my voiceover into iClone, I previewed the initial lip-synch and decided to throw it over into CrazyTalk6 using the 'launch' button found in the iClone4, Animation, Face, Modify panel. Once in CT6 PRO I chose a model to be a dummy for my editing, then opened the Script and dove into the timeline where I went directly to the Lips track. The auto-generated mouth shapes on the Lips track are all editable, movable and removable. I zoomed in my timeline and took my time to go across the timeline and play my voiceover in increments while I changed the mouth shapes that needed refinement. You can just double-click on the mouth shape key frames or in an empty area of the timeline to add or edit the mouth shape using the popup wizard. It's not hard, it does take some time and patience, but even this project was created in one day.
After I got the full script edited with the changes I wanted for select mouth shapes, I went back into iClone4 and selected the, 'Import CTS' button to bring my voiceover back into iClone. A quick preview actually showed me that I had made it... well, too perfect. Now before you think I've got a big ego, what I mean is that I made the Lip shapes for every single sound which produced a real staccato performance and that was not exactly what I was after.... argh, so really perfecting every mouth shape is not necessary. This is important. When you consider the persona of your actor, their intended stage presence, their demeanor. This is one of the core components in transforming your lifeless avatar into a living actor. It's important. So, although you may have spent a ton of time working on a perfect lip synch or motion performance, you need to always keep in mind that you have to sell that performance through your actor. The edits you choose to make should be guided by this simple rule. However, we learn by doing. Right? So, I went back into CrazyTalk6 and removed some of those mouth shapes to make the speech a bit more realistic.
Even with this extra CrazyTalk6 step in creating with iClone4, the total production process was pretty quick and steadily progressive. Most important, it was fun. iClone4's facial animation tools are outstanding and the real-time puppeteering really gives you the direct control to puppet the facial expressions that convey your actor's emotion. Add CrazyTalk6 to the iClone4 mix and you've got a truly dynamic animation duo. I look forward to hearing about your experiences with iClone4 and watching your movies. Thanks!~ John