In the ancient days, people had to animate by moving heavy pencils around cumbersome sheets of paper. Then, digital-puppeted animation made the process simpler by having animators repeatedly click a mouse. Now, a new Adobe program allows you to control and animate two-dimensional characters using just your microphone, your webcam, and your face. No more heavy-duty pencil-lifting or repetitive mouse-clicking required to create the illusion of life.
Adobe Character Animator, the latest in the company’s Creative Cloud suite of applications, will soon be available in a preview version. The software (which was developed under the codename Project Animal) allows users to track simple head movements and facial expressions—including blinking, glancing, and eye-brow raising—and reproduce them instantaneously on any suitably layered character created in Photoshop or Illustrator. (Adobe claims that if the layers are named to indicate which body part they correspond to, then no additional rigging will be required and users can immediately control the puppet with their face.)
The program can also analyze a vocal performance to generate automatic lip sync, a feature that is included in competitive software, like certain Toon Boom programs.