Adobe releases Character Animator 3.4
Originally posted on 20 August 2020. Scroll down for news of the commercial release.
Adobe has unveiled Speech-Aware Animation, an interesting new AI-driven system for generating head movements for a character automatically inside Character Animator.
The feature is available in a new public beta of the software – which generates real-time puppet-style animation from video footage of an actor – along with a new Limb IK system and updates to the timeline.
Adobe’s blog post about the beta doesn’t give it a specific version number, but a lot of the online documentation refers to it as Character Animator 3.4.
New Speech-Aware Animation system generates head and eyebrow movements from audio recordings
Character Animator 3.4 is the first experimental version of the software Adobe has put out since launching its public beta program earlier this year.
Its key feature is Speech-Aware Animation, a new AI-driven system that automatically generates head movements and eyebrow positions for an animated character from recorded speech.
The underlying technology is based on Project Sweet Talk, a demo Adobe showed at Adobe MAX 2019.
In its original form, it generated mouth shapes from audio recordings as well as head movements and eyebrow raises, but since Character Animator already has a lip sync system, that doesn’t feature here.
The implementation is slightly odd: Speech Aware-Animation has to be calculated separately from lip sync, and unlike lip sync, it isn’t generated from scene audio – you have to import a separate audio file.
Updated 2 September 2020: Adobe told us that separating the two processes increases workflow flexibility, but that it may combine the two operations in future, depending on the feedback to the public beta.
However, it can automatically turn and scale the character’s head as well as simply tilting it, and users can adjust a range of control parameters to finesse the animation manually.
Expanded Limb IK system, plus workflow updates to the animation timeline
Other new features in the public beta of Character Animator 3.4 include Limb IK which, as the name implies, extends the software’s existing Arm IK inverse kinematics system to a character’s legs.
The feature makes it possible to reposition a character’s entire arm or leg by moving the hand or foot (or paw, claw or tentacle tip), with the rest of the limb following and deforming automatically.
Users also get a self-explanatory new Pin Feet When Standing option for the Walk behaviour.
Other changes include the option to merge takes in the Timeline panel, plus a number of other workflow improvements, including the option to colour-code, filter or isolate takes.
Updated 20 October 2020: Character Animator 3.4 is now shipping. In the online documentation, the update is also referred to as the October 2020 release of the software.
It is available for Windows 10, Windows Server 2016+ and macOS 10.13 (Speech-Aware Animation requires macOS 10.15) on a rental-only basis via Adobe’s All Apps subscriptions. They cost $79.49/month.