In a slew of new updates, Adobe today unveiled tons of information about the upgrades coming to their existing Creative Cloud video apps. Plus they announced a few new apps that are sure to turn heads in years to come. Character Animator is one of them.
Even after watching the above video, it's hard to describe exactly what Character Animator does. Here's a brief breakdown from the Adobe blog.
Adobe Character Animator brings still image artwork from Photoshop or Illustrator to life by capturing your performance using a camera and microphone, reproducing your facial expressions, synchronizing mouth movements to your speech, and giving you control over all aspects of a character’s movement through the mouse, keyboard, and programmable behaviors. You can simply perform to animate a character that you’ve acquired from someone else, or you can rig your own characters based on your own artwork from Photoshop or Illustrator. You can even write your own programmable behaviors or plug in behaviors from elsewhere.
Essentially, Character Animator is bringing the basics of motion capture technology to the masses. This is huge. Motion capture has long been a staple of extremely high-end filmmaking, and as such, it requires hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of technology and obscene amounts of tedious post production work and compositing to make it look realistic in any true sense. Needless to say, motion capture was never really an option for those of us with limited budget and limited manpower.
While Character Animator certainly won't be producing any photorealistic Gollums or talking apes (Andy Serkis style) any time soon, it's clear that the framework is there and that motion capture technology may eventually be as easy as sitting in front of a webcam (or a camera that is somehow wired directly to Character Animator). Even though this software is clearly in its infancy, the possibilities are truly breathtaking.
Right now, Character Animator is just in a preview stage, so it will not be included in the upcoming release of the updated Creative Cloud apps. However, if you'd like to learn more, head on over to this write-up on the After Effects blog.