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CrazyTalk Animator 2 review


By Jahirul Amin

Web: www.jahirulamin.com (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 24th June 2014

Rigger and animator, Jahirul Amin uses his professional knowledge to take Reallusion's newest iteration of CrazyTalk Animator out for a spin...


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Product: CrazyTalk Animator 2

Company: Reallusion

Website: www.reallusion.com


Key features:

• Strong character creation tools
• Multi-dimensional 2D characters
• 3D camera system. Drag and drop animation clips
• Auto lip-sync tools
• Import 3D motions from external apps and apply them to 2D characters
• Multiple rendering styles

If you are looking to get into 2D animation but do not know where to start, then CrazyTalk Animator 2 may be the software package for you. CrazyTalk Animator 2 comes from the same team who created iClone, but is this 2D package as much fun or as unique as its 3D older brother? Read on to find out.

So what exactly is CrazyTalk Animator 2? Quite simply, it allows you to create 2D animated content with a slight 3D twist. Evolving from the previous version, you can now create performances that are free from the restrictions of the 2D perspective, allowing the animation to be more engaging and inviting.

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Replacing a default character's head with that of Jim Carrey in Composer Mode

The process of creating an animation is handled in real-time as opposed to the traditional methods of drawing or setting key-frames. This may sound and feel a little alien at first, especially for those who are used to animating pose-to-pose, but after a little practice, you should find your feet. Like its 3D brother iClone, animating in real-time means you primarily drag and drop animation clips onto characters and then through a combination of blend tools, transition from one clip to another. I found this a slight struggle at first, as my experience with motion-capture data is limited and I like to go in and define my poses manually.

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With the character ready to go and the environment in place, it's time to enter Stage mode to start animating

However, I found that for folks new to CG (in this case my kids), who had no ingrained methods or approaches to animation, they would jump straight in and start to layer the clips one by one to create some pretty quirky and fun results. The important word there being FUN. CrazyTalk Animator 2 allowed them to just go for it and start creating animation, and once my knickers untwisted, I joined in. We could simply load up a preset character, modify it to our hearts' content with the huge library of parts supplied with the software, and then start free-styling some shots.

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One of the default characters with a selection of the customizable attributes.
(Image used with permission from Reallusion)

I'm a big fan of getting kids involved in animation, but for the most part, the tools out there are pretty heavy for young ones. CrazyTalk Animator 2 was a breath of fresh air in this regard and felt manageable for a greater range of users than many packages.

Users are handed a wide range of different motion clips from walking to clapping, jumping, crying, and so on. Therefore, just like creating a character, starting an animation can be pretty instantaneous. You can also use the Human IK tools to make modifications to the animated clips or enhance the movements to fit your needs.

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Using the 3D camera tools to add depth to your animation can be easily achieved by shifting the assets back and forth.
(Image used with permission from Reallusion)

Adding voices to your characters is also a breeze as you can tap a couple of buttons to record your sound and this is automatically lip-synced to your characters. If you wanted to fine-tune the lip sync, there are tools available to do this as well. And in addition to being able to use the supplied motion clips, you can add your own from other 3D packages (iClone of course being particularly compatible). Not only can you use 3D motion clips, you can also take advantage of the 3D camera tools, allowing you to place assets in front or behind other assets easily to add a further dimension to your animations.

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Animate facial performances easily and from multiple angles.
(Image used with permission from Reallusion)

Modifying and using the presets was a great way to get started, but what I found to be CrazyTalk Animator 2's great strength was the ease at which you could build your own characters and apply the same animation clips that are supplied with the package. Either through editing photographs or designing your own assets in external packages such as Photoshop or Flash, you could very easily start creating your own personal animation. However, this brings up one of CrazyTalk Animator 2's downsides: you need an external package to help in the process of creating the assets. I would have loved for CrazyTalk Animator 2 to have been able to integrate this step into the package also.

"CrazyTalk Animator 2 has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve: from its Multi-Dimensional Character System, allowing you to animate characters at different angles, to its ability to render out in numerous styles"


CrazyTalk Animator 2 has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve: from its Multi-Dimensional Character System, allowing you to animate characters at different angles, to its ability to render out in numerous styles and easily export the image or an image sequence to other packages, and more besides. What is possible, therefore, really comes down to what the user would like to create: an animated comic, a short film, a commercial – it really is in the hands of the user. I could envision the next Amazing World of Gumball or Celebrity Deathmatch being created in a package like CrazyTalk Animator 2. You could even be the star of your very own animated talk-show. The tools are in your hands to jump in and do just that.

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Using a character sheet to create a custom character in Flash and ready it for animation in CrazyTalk Animator 2.
(Image used with permission from Reallusion)

Reallusion offers 3 different versions of CrazyTalk Animator 2, depending on your needs and your budget. There is plenty of information on their site on the differences between the 3, but I thought I'd give a quick summary on how they differ. First, you have the Standard edition. This version has plenty of pre-made characters, props and scenes allowing you to jump in and get started. As you cannot add your own content, you can consider this as the version that allows you to use the content. Next you have the Pro version. This allows you to add and create your own assets and has additional animation and motion editing tools, so you can consider this as the version that allows you to modify the content. Lastly, you have the Pipeline version, which is the version I tested. This has all the bells and whistles enabling you to create, modify, customize and integrate assets and motions into other packages. On top of all of this is the Reallusion Marketplace, where you can add additional content to your setup.

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Become the director and create your very own short animation with your favourite stars
(Image used with permission from Reallusion)


"If you are interested at creating animated content but without the hassle of everything that comes with it, I highly recommend you try it out"


Overall, CrazyTalk Animator 2 is a great little package that may seem a little quirky but comes with a pretty powerful punch. And like I said previously, it's a good bundle of fun. If you are interested in creating animated content but without the hassle of everything that comes with it, I highly recommend you try it out. Happy animating!

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Using the Face Fitting Editor to add Jim Carrey into my animation


Reviewed by:

Jahirul Amin

Score (out of 5) 4


System requirements


Platforms

Windows and Mac

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262_tid_reallusion_logo.jpg

Related links

CrazyTalk Animator 2 Demo Reel
CrazyTalk Animator Tutorial
Bonus content for CrazyTalk Animator 2
Purchase CrazyTalk
Check out the Reallusion marketplace
 
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