centre for animation & interactive media

Animation Project #5
Lip Sync (optional project)
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If you thought walking some drawings was more than enough excitement for a year without taking a Valium and having a quick lay down, then making them talk is a real thrill. You will recall that towards the end of this semester, we will be working on a minor project. Your piece may incorporate some lines of dialogue so this exercise will give you some practice in the technique of synchronising mouth movements to pre-recorded dialogue, and in the art of acting or emoting those lines convincingly.

Script a single amusing, weird or dark line of dialogue and make your character deliver this in a memorable fashion which takes into account the performance encoded within the recording of your voice talent. Audition and direct your voice talent to get the kind of qualities you are looking for. Use a head and shoulders or head to waist view of your character. Think very carefully about the design of your character, how it looks and the way facial expressions can tell us something about its personality and its mood. Try and work at least three different body poses into your animation and use hand gestures and eyes expressively within these poses. Refer to your notes about pose to pose animation and remember the value of 'anticipation'.

You can use cut-outs, drawings on paper, collage, or digital time-based software like 'Flash' to animate this project. If you have well-developed skills in 3D computer animation tools, then this is an option too. If you are patient, you can wait until we talk about table-top and puppet animation and do this project using a blob of clay. No need to wait to write, record and analyse a line of dialogue, however.

For those interested, Kate Cawley will give a demonstration of the software program 'Flash'. Flash is a time-based digital production tool which you can use for the lipsync project.

Yesterday we talked about action break down and how the various components on different layers of paper, or on a digital timeline, can be used to make up the final scene - a body, eyes, mouth and arms. These bits and pieces can all be 'layered' or composited together again to make up the complete character. This technique enables you to animate the character in all sorts of ways without ever exactly repeating the same action twice, since each part is independent of the other. Within this library of animating parts, you could find a gesture, a mouth shape, some body language that would be appropriate for almost any line of dialogue. This means you could quickly animate considerably more dialogue without doing all that much more work. It is one of the many ways animators use to cut down the amount of work to be done.

In the past, t he analysis of sound was done on either 35mm or 16mm magnetic film. We now use a digital sound editor like, Audacity and SoundEdit16 (Mac) to analyse dialogue. You will have to be careful about frame rates as you may still need to chart up your dialogue track onto paper dope sheets, particularly for puppet animation. The frame rate of your software tool MUST be set to 25fps otherwise the sound won't synchronise when it is rendered as a QuickTime movie or is transferred to video tape. You will also have to convert Time Code to Frame Numbers. A value of 00:00:17:12, for example, is 437 frames. The dope sheets will tell you how long each mouth position need be held. Most people find track reading quite difficult to start with, so get together with David to help you get started.

To script a short piece of dialogue. To think about voice characterization and character design. To gain experience in the direction of voice talent to get the kind of performance and delivery you want. Technical experience in 'track-reading' and analysing sound and to chart up the dialogue onto dope sheets. To animate dialogue using body language and simple gestures in a way which underscores the meaning of the words or sound 'accents' within the performance. Use at least three different poses. Don't worry about in-betweening. Exaggeration of sound as well as image - pushing things as far as you can, is one of the great tools available to the animator.

This is an optional project. Please try it if you are curious or if you think your Minor or Major Project ideas might require animated dialogue. Remember just one short line of dialogue with a strong well delivered performance. By drawing rough, or by using cut-outs, or by drawing directly into Flash, you could actually complete this assignment in a day. However you will learn more by taking time to develop a sequence in which your character appears to deliver the line as though it is a living, thinking entity. In other words, you are trying to realise a convincing performance through acting.

You should aim to get this assignment completed by Friday 22 May
at the latest so as not to interfere with your minor project production period.



"Don't have much
to say about lipsync..
I'm too busy walking"

References and Other Sources:

Lip Synchronisation Notes

Pose to Pose Animation Notes

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