Recently, there’s been a lot of interesting development in 2D character animation software. That’s good news since many products in the past simply lacked the right tools to do the job effectively. Thus, 2D character animators had to struggle with tools such as Flash and After Effects which were not originally designed to create character animation in the first place. That’s now changing as a new generation of tools have arrived which include advanced features such as 2D bone rigging, inverse kinematics and facial controls. Things that are necessary in the process of character animation.
Reallusion’s CrazyTalk Animator, a program with its sights aimed squarely at 2D character animation, has recently come out with Version 3. I’ve reviewed CrazyTalk Animator in the past and liked how it could take images and photographs and make them move and talk. It also took an interesting and novel approach to animation that made the process easier for beginners with what could be best described as live puppeteering controls that could be layered up in separate passes.
Before we start talking about the new features in CrazyTalk Animator 3, check out this video produced by Reallusion:
So, What’s New?
In CrazyTalk Animator 3, Reallusion has now integrated some high-level features that will no doubt appeal to more serious 2D character animators. First, there is a new 2D bone editor which offers tools to build sophisticated bone rigs, the skeletal structure of your characters. Bone rigs are very useful and are crucial to the animation process. Users can use pins to constrain areas to specified bones or to define static regions (areas that shouldn’t move). Another powerful feature that I like is that you can create subdivision meshes to pixel-based (bitmap) artwork for smoother blending effects.
Also new in Version 3 are new Character Templates and Motion libraries that give you easy access to a variety of character creation styles and animation options when designing and animating your characters. There are character rigging templates for humans and animals as well as Elastic, Custom Sprite and free bone characters. In addition, these templates are supplied with facial and body rigs that can be applied to multiple character designs. They also allow users to apply a huge built in library of cartoon motions.
CrazyTalk Animator 3 also includes a new Motion Curve Library since, in the real world, motion is rarely linear. Instead, objects usually accelerate into their motion, achieve maximum speed somewhere in the middle and slow down towards the end. On the other hand, there are many times where you might want to have your object suddenly start or stop, or slow down in the middle of a move. The wide range of velocity curves in the motion library will help you achieve these kinds of effects (and more).
There is a new facial system in CrazyTalk Animator 3 which can be applied to both humans and animals. It includes a Free-Form Deformation (FFD) tool that can be applied to sprites (such as those used for eyebrows and mouths). The FFD allows for easy modification and smooth transition of sprites based on a grid of points superimposed over the shape that you which to modify. In addition, there is a handy pop up dialog that allows you to create and edit the list of sprites you are using for facial expressions and phonemes. The Free-Form Deformation tool can also be combined with transformations and motion curves and those motions can also be saved in custom libraries.
Also included in CrazyTalk Animator 3 is a new library of Elastic Motion effects which allows you to apply bouncy elastic motions to any image, logo or prop. You can, for example, import an illustration or photo and apply a variety of animated squash and stretch elastic motions to it.
Reallusion’s CrazyTalk Animator 3 also includes a Prop Composer to make multi-part animated props from parts or sprites into a single prop that can be organized with hierarchical layers. Each sprite part can have its own unique animation and playback sequence.
If you don’t feel like designing all the characters and making them move yourself, CrazyTalk Animator 3 has extended its content libraries with their Generation 3 (G3) Power Tools Core Bundle. It offers 9 G3 cats, dogs and horses, 115 human motions, 168 animal motions, 228 Elastic motions, symbols, poses and collection of 301 animated props and accessories.
Naturally, in addition to the new features in version 3, CrazyTalk Animator’s legacy features are all still there such as a 3D camera system, keyframe based timeline, the ability to animate objects along a path, and content libraries. If you are doing 2D character animation, Reallusion’s CrazyTalk Animator 3 is a program that is well worth looking into, especially now that it includes new bone rigging system.
CrazyTalk Animator 3 comes in three different flavors. Standard ($69), Pro ($179) and Pipeline ($299). for more information, visit Reallusion’s website at https://www.reallusion.com/crazytalk-animator/