How to make lip sync animation easy

In this weeks video tutorial I explain an amazing method to speed up your lip sync animation.

I show you how I produced the above animation from start to finish in only 36 minutes.

So Lets get started!

First, watch this video as I explain the technique in detail:

A lot of planning and preparation went into this, and I genuinely hope you enjoy it! But make sure you watch it all the way to the end. I’d hate for you to miss any secrets.

Now let me step you through this technique.

I have made some example videos using that I animated in with this lip sync animation workflow and noted the time each step took.

  • Foundation: We have already done this by listening to our soundtrack and “getting into character”.
  • Structure: From the video, we learned the basic structure of all lip sync animation is:
    • Open – Closed
    • Wide – Narrow
    • We feel this by placing our chin on our fist and saying the dialogue at full speed.

This first video is only the open – closed positions. It took me 2 minutes to produce:

    • This second video is the wide – narrow positions. It took me 1 minute to produce:
    • Now our Structure is done! Not bad for ~5 minutes work. Let’s move on to the details of our lip sync animation!

Details: Now its time to put the lip sync details onto our animation structure.

    • This video took a bit longer (8 mins), and I am starting to add in motion to the eyebrows. Nothing too detailed yet, just some broad strokes of emotion in addition to the lips and mouth.
    • Now we’re really rolling! I’ve pulled back to add in some details to the entire face. I’ve also animated the mustache and shifted my keyframes to help it match the audio a bit better.
      • Now our facial animation Details are done! This file took me about 13 minutes to animate, meaning all up we’ve spent 26 minutes to bring our facial animation to this level! Let’s move on to the Polish.

Polish: We’ve done all of the building work, now its time to have fun and get really creative!

  • What I’ve done here is animate in some head accents for the dialogue. Then I went in and added in some micro-smirks to make him feel as if he is pleased with whomever he’s talking to! Another 10 minutes, making 36 minutes total to produce this lip sync animation! 
  • At places like Disney and Pixar, the polish stage is where you’d spend most of your time animating (besides maybe planning), however on lower budget productions with tight schedules, polish is the stage that usually gets cut.
  • If you’re preparing a showreel, be sure that you are spending MOST of your time in the polish stage. Many animators out there are competent, meaning they can get an animation this far, but its the top few who can really push it in the polishing stage, especially with lip sync and facial animation.

Well, I hope you found this lip sync and facial animation tutorial informative and inspirational! If you really want to take your animation to the next level, then check out the Guardian Animation Program! Doing so will also help support this animation community.

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