April 2017, December 2016, and November 2016 releases of Adobe Character Animator
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Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta) is a character animation application that allows you to bring expressive characters to life using your own artwork. You can install Character Animator as a standalone product or as part of After Effects CC. Character Animator is currently available as a Beta release to let you experience the exciting new features and send us feedback about improving the product. 


What's New in Character Animator CC (Beta) April 2017

What's New in Character Animator CC (Beta) April 2017
Watch this video to learn about the new features in Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta) April 2017

Task-based workspaces

 New in this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta)

This release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta) comes with an interactive set of workspaces for an enhanced user experience. These task-based workspaces are designed to focus on a particular set of workflows to help you create animations fluidly. 

The four workspaces are:

  • Start- Works as a starting point for your creations with template puppets, video tutorial, and a host of other exciting features.
  • Rig- Modify your puppets and bring them to life in this workspace.
  • Record- Record and playback your creations here.
  • Stream- Stream your animations live to an external device or application.

For more information, see Task-based workspaces.

Lip Sync: Viseme editor

 New in this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta)

Visemes are visualizations of key mouth positions when saying common phonetic sounds. Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta) allows you to edit the mouth shapes of your puppet after recording audio for visual representation. You can modify visemes faster with improved viseme user interface and editing controls. The visemes of an audio track are arranged on a single track for enhanced user experience. You can select, trim, delete, insert, and replace individual visemes with ease.

Viseme editor workflow
Viseme editor workflow

For more information, see Edit Visemes. 

Walk Cycles

 New in this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta)

Make your puppet walk across the scene with the Walk behavior in Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta). Create walk cycle animations from a single profile pose. A walk cycle is a series of poses played on loop, which creates an illusion of a walking puppet. This behavior supports different styles of walk such as Prance, Sneak, Run, and Strut.

The walk cycles adjust to various leg-lengths and avoid foot slipping in motion.

Walk cycle
Walk cycle

For more information, see Walk Cycles.

Blending modes

 New in this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta)

In this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta), you can enhance visual quality of your puppet with blending modes. These blending modes control how layers blend into each other. Blending modes also control the output when two images are composite together. You can enhance the images, create compositions with existing images, and experiment with how a change in one layer affects the other layer. For example, if you place a highlight above an eyeball of your puppet, a layer that has used a blending mode can make them look like real reflections or highlights, instead of just making the layer semi-transparent.

Blending modes workflow
Blending modes workflow

For more information, see Blending modes.

Stream a scene live to other devices or applications

 New in this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta)

Share the content of your scene with external monitors or third-party video devices using Mercury Transmit or Syphon for live output. You can send your live content through video devices and NDI for live streaming applications such as – Telestream Wirecast, and OBS. This workflow allows you to stream your character on platforms such as Facebook Live and Youtube streaming. Using multiple machines, you can output multiple puppets for a live production with characters that interact with each other.

Behavior improvements

 New in this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta)

  • Breathe behavior: The behavior has a revised Chest handle tag name to 'Breathe.'
  • Cycle Layers behavior: The behavior has a new parameter called Continue After Pause that controls how to resume a cycle from a pause-layer (layer that has the Cycle Pause tag applied).
  • Dangle behavior: The behavior has less crumpling, and is responsive and stable.
  • Nutcracker Jaw behavior: The behavior can now open and close the mouth of your character as you talk into the microphone, and can rotate instead of offset the jaw.
  • Transform behavior: The behavior has a new parameter called Group Opacity to set uniform opacity across the puppet.

For more information, see Behaviors.

More features and enhancements

 New in this release of Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta)

  • The project folder can now exist in a location where a background process is running such as- file sync via Dropbox, file backup via CrashPlan, virus checker, and search indexer.
  • When you duplicate a puppet item in the Project panel, a separate copy of all groups and layers in the puppet are created.
  • Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta 6) is now available in 6 new languages - Spanish (Español), Italian (Italiano), Korean (한국어), Portuguese (Português de Brasil), Russian (Pусский), and Simplified Chinese (简体中文).
  • Layers and groups in the Puppet panel can now be duplicated. To modify the duplicate without affecting the original, select Edit > Duplicate menu.
  • Cleaner appearance of layer and handle tags in the Puppet panel. The panel now displays a handle's tag to the right.
  • Timeline editing and navigation ease.

Features in Character Animator Beta 5 (November 2016)

New Getting Started project

You can now quickly get started with Adobe Character Animator CC (Beta) using the new professionally animated and interactive version of the Getting Started project. 

Click Start Here! in the Welcome panel to open the Getting Started project.  

For more information, see Getting Started with Character Animator.

Getting-Started

You can now open a Character Animator scene directly in After Effects or Premiere Pro and keep a live connection to the original scene in Character Animator, via Adobe Dynamic Link. Changes to the scene in Character Animator are reflected automatically when switching back to After Effects or Premiere Pro.

To import a Character Animator scene into After Effects or Premiere Pro via Dynamic Link:

  1. Choose File > Import > File, then select a Character Animator project file (.chproj).
  2. In the Import Character Animator Scene dialog, select the scene within the project that you want to import.

After import, the scene appears in the Project panel as Dynamic Link video footage that you can add to a composition like any other video footage. Character Animator does not need to be open while you use the scene in After Effects.

Export with dynamic link

Export with dynamic link
Learn how to export Projects using dynamic link

Shareable puppets

If you want to send a puppet to other Character Animator users or archive the structure of a puppet for reuse in other projects, create a shareable puppet, a self-contained file with all required artwork included. 

Shareable puppets are self-contained puppet files that contain the artwork associated with them. If needed, you can relink the puppet to a shared instance of the artwork. Parameter changes to a puppet when selected in the timeline, or any recorded takes for a puppet track, are not included in a .puppet file. Also, the behaviors that are on the imported puppet are updated to use the versions of the behaviors available in the current project. 

Choose File > Export > Puppet to create a .puppet file that you can share with other Character Animator users. 

For more information, see Export and share puppets with other users.

Drag-and-drop files to import

All importable files (AIFF, Character Animator Project, Character Animator Puppet, Illustrator, mp3, PNG, Photoshop, and Wave PCM formats) can now be dragged from Finder/Explorer into the Project panel, or onto the application icon on Mac.

Note: Double-clicking a single .chproj file (or dragging it onto the application icon on Mac) opens the project, but dragging into the Project panel imports it into the current project. Dragging multiple .chproj files onto the application icon imports them. 

Cycle puppets

If you have a sequence of images (in PNG format) that you want to use with the Cycle Layers behavior, you can quickly create a cycle-enabled puppet for it. To create a cycle puppet, open a puppet in the Puppet panel, click Add Cycle, and then select a PNG file from your sequence with the same base name.

A puppet with Cycle Layers applied and named after the PNG sequence (for example, “Flap Cycle”) is created in the Project panel, and then is added automatically above the currently selected layer in the Puppet panel. You can assign a trigger key to the added layer to trigger the PNG image sequence, but remember to have the Keyboard Triggers behavior applied to the opened puppet. 

For more information, see Puppets.

Cycle Layers: Pause on specific frames in a cycle

In addition to the normal progression of layers in a Cycle Layers sequence, you can pause at specific layers in the sequence, similar to Hold on Last Layer when Forward and Reverse is enabled but at arbitrary frames (layers). Those paused layers can themselves be nested Cycle Layers puppet to, for example, pause on a continuous cycle before proceeding to the next layer.

To specify the layers to pause at, apply the Cycle Pause layer tag to those layers.

When the cycle is triggered, it will pause on these tagged layers, waiting until the next trigger before resuming. If Forward and Reverse is enabled, pausing also occurs in the reverse direction. 

Eye Gaze: Control eye pupil movement separate from the rest of the face

The Eye Gaze behavior uses the webcam, mouse, or touch-enabled display to control the movement of a puppet’s pupils. These controls were previously included in the Face behavior, but have been separated into this new behavior for finer control and recording of eye gaze. In addition, you can smoothen and pause eye gaze, and blend record eye gaze takes.

For more information, see Behaviors.

Keyboard Triggers: Grouped takes for recorded key presses

Takes are now recorded in groups representing the keys pressed, and if the key was latched or not. Similar to Dragger’s grouped takes used for dragged handles, grouped takes for keyboard triggers allow you to capture multiple performances of a single key without losing the performances of other keys. 

Particles: Gravity controls

The Particles behavior has two new parameters to control the effect of gravity on emitted particles:

  • Gravity Strength controls the amount of force or pull of gravity.
  • Gravity Direction controls the orientation of gravity.

For example, you can rotate gravity 180 degrees to point upward to simulate bubbles floating higher, or you rotate gravity at an angle to adjust the arc of particles emitted from a cannon.

Unless you want particles to move along an arc, set Direction (of emitted particles) and Gravity Direction in a similar orientation. 

Markers

Markers let you take note of specific changes (for example, when a character is looking to the left) in a scene’s timeline. Stop markers allow playback to stop when they are reached. You can switch between a regular informational marker and a stop marker at any time. 

You can switch a regular marker to a stop marker, or conversely, by right-clicking the marker, then enabling or disabling the Stop Playback at Marker option.

Hierarchical selection in the Timeline

Selected track items appear solid blue in the Timeline panel. When a take or projection bar for a puppet is selected (either directly selected or after recording takes), the bar becomes solid blue and the puppet track gets outlined in blue to indicate that something in the puppet’s hierarchy is selected, which is useful to know when the track is collapsed. This hierarchical selection also allows the puppet’s behavior parameters to be visible in the Properties panel and modified immediately after adjusting takes, instead of having to select the puppet track item. 

Features in Character Animator Preview 4 (June 2016)

Visual tags

In addition to manual tagging by using names of layers and handles to specify capabilities of a puppet and how behaviors control puppets, Character Animator now uses named tags that are applied to layers and handles to set those capabilities. For example, instead of creating and naming guides/handles as “Draggable left hand” and “Fixed right foot”, they can be called “left hand”and “right foot” with the Draggable tag attached to the first one and Fixed tag attached to the second.

You can now make more changes in the Puppet panel instead of having to go back to the original artwork in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Layer and handle names in existing artwork are converted to the equivalent tags after import or open an existing project containing it.

For more information, see Visual tags for puppet layers and handles.

Subpuppet attach-style options

Character Animator provides you new options to control how a warp-independent subpuppet attaches to its parent puppet at the subpuppet’s origin. When a subpuppet layer is selected in the Puppet panel, and the 'Warp Independently' option is checked, the existing Attach To control is enabled, along with the new Attach Style control, which has the following options:

  • Weld: The subpuppet cannot move, rotate, or scale around its origin.
  • Hinge: The subpuppet can rotate, but can’t move or scale around its origin.
  • Free: The subpuppet can move, rotate, and scale freely around its origin.

For Weld and Hinge, the subpuppet can still deform if you have a Dragger handle on it (for example, an arm subpuppet whose origin is at one end and a Dragger handle on the other), whereas for the Free style the dragged handle would drag the entire subpuppet away.

For more information, see Group a set of layers as a subpuppet.

Motion trigger behavior

The motion trigger behavior allows you to switch between subpuppets based on the direction the parent puppet is moving. For example, as a character moves to the right, switch to a profile view of the character running with motion trails behind it. The movement of the character can either be direct (you dragging it across the scene) or indirect (the puppet is attached to a hand on an arm that is swinging because the torso is moving).

For more information, see Motion trigger behavior

Export to Adobe Media Encoder

You can now render your scene and export it to any format supported by Adobe Media Encoder. The default export format is H.264 with the “Match Source – High bitrate” preset. To export a scene to Adobe Media Encoder, choose File > Export > Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue.

This feature works only with a compatible version of Adobe Media Encoder. To export from Character Animator Preview 4, install the 2015.3 version of Adobe Media Encoder. 

For more information, see Export a scene as a movie file via Adobe Media Encoder.

Take-groups for Draggable handles

The Dragger behavior now records each Draggable handle that you move as a separate take group, so that multiple performances for a specific handle compose together, and don’t affect performances for other handles you drag. By grouping Dragger takes by dragged handles, you can avoid using multiple Dragger behaviors to capture multiple dragged handles. 

For more information, see Record behavior in take groups.

Smoothing face movements

If your facial movements in front of the webcam are jittery or if lighting conditions cause facial tracking points to move unexpectedly, you can smooth the captured camera information over time. To smooth out jittery facial movements, increase the Smoothing parameter’s value in the Face behavior. The default value smooths the behavior to a certain extent, but you can decrease it if you prefer to have your puppet react instantaneously to quick motions, including rapid eye blinks. Mouth replacements are not affected.

For more information, see Face: Control a puppet with your webcam.

This behavior automatically triggers a layer, such as eyelids that blink or lights that you want to flicker. The blinking can occur at regular intervals or with some randomness. You can use this behavior to have a character blink randomly. It can also work with the Face and Keyboard Triggers behaviors if you want to control blinks with the webcam or key presses.

For more information, see Auto Blink: Simulate blinking of eyelids or flickering of lights.

autoblink

Eyeball on/off control for behaviors and tracks

Behaviors (listed in the Properties panel when a puppet track item is selected, and in the Timeline panel for a behavior’s takes) now have an eyeball switch to control whether they are active (enabled) or not. This switch allows you to temporarily turn off a behavior without needing to delete it (and lose existing recordings), then later readd it. Enable or disable behaviors to experiment with different settings.

Similar to behavior eyeballs, tracks in the Timeline panel now have an eyeball switch to control whether a track is enabled or not. This switch allows you to hide a puppet or mute an audio track without needing to delete it. Enable or disable tracks to experiment with different scene contents for playback or export, to select specific audio for the Compute Lip Sync from Scene Audio operation, or to focus your setup of a particular character in a scene.

eyeballs1

Marquee selection of track items and takes

You can now easily select track items and takes by dragging a rectangular selection across them in the Timeline panel. Hold down the Shift or Cmd/Ctrl key before starting to drag if you want to retain the previously selected track items and takes.

Note: Linked takes are selected individually, even if Linked Selection is enabled.

Syphon support — show a scene live in Syphon clients (Mac OS only)

You can send live feed of a Character Animator scene to any Syphon client. Syphon is an open-source Mac OS X technology that allows applications to share video frames with one another in real time. No additional configuration of Character Animator is necessary to enable this functionality - open the scene in the Scene panel, run your Syphon client (for example, a live video application), and choose the Character Animator “Scene” as its frame source (Syphon server). 

Note: The Scene panel must be in front of other panels in its panel group to see the scene’s content live.

For more information, see Working with Syphon.

Controllable playback speed

The playback speed control allows you to review the finer movements or changes in a performance. You can use this control with the existing controllable recording speed.

To change the playback speed for a scene, open the scene in the Scene panel, then change the Playback Speed setting from the Playback and Recording Speed control at the bottom of the panel. When playback and recording speeds are different, both values are indicated, with recording speed in red. When they’re the same speed, only that value is shown.

playbackspeed

Behavior overrides in puppet hierarchy

Behaviors with layer and handle parameters — such as, Breathe, Dragger, Face, and Head Turner, and Nutcracker Jaw —placed on different subpuppets in a puppet’s hierarchy, now override the settings for the same behavior higher in the hierarchy.

This capability allows you to have a behavior at the top level of the hierarchy define default settings (for example, a top-level Draggable behavior set to Return to Rest controls a character’s arm and leg subpuppets), and the same behavior applied on a subpuppet lower in the hierarchy define custom settings (for example, Draggable applied to the character’s tail set to Hold in Place).

Multiple-view-aware Face and Lip Sync behaviors

You no longer need to apply multiple Face and Lip Sync behaviors to different views of a puppet (for example, if using HeadTurner) and remove them from the top-level puppet — place a single set of behaviors at some parent puppet. This change simplifies the setup and editing of multiple-view puppets.

If you want a specific view’s subpuppet to have custom Face or Lip Sync settings, add those behaviors at that view-specific subpuppet level in the puppet hierarchy. The parent set of behaviors controls all other views, except the views that have their own set.

For more information, see Lip Sync: Control a puppet’s mouth with your voice

Improved lip sync and new/revised visemes

Lip sync accuracy has been improved again in this build. Also, the number of visemes has increased from 10 to 11, but with several changes:

  • “R” added
  • “Th” merged with the existing “L”
  • “Oh–Uh” split into “Oh” and “Uh”
  • “K” renamed as “S”

Existing artwork using “Th” and “K” layers get the new tags, and “Oh–Uh” layers get the“Oh” tag. The current set of 11 visemes are listed to the right.

The built-in template puppet (access via New Puppet in Photoshop and New Puppet in Illustrator commands) has been updated with these 11 visemes.

For more information, see Lip Sync: Control a puppet’s mouth with your voice

lipsync

Step recording to capture “on ones” or “on twos”

You can now capture the current pose of a character, specifically the behavior parameters armed for record, as one- or two frame takes to animate “on ones” or “on twos.” For example, if you have the Dragger behavior’s After Move parameter set to Hold in Place, you can pose a character’s arms, record a one-frame take, change the pose, record another one-frame take. Like any recorded take, you can extend its duration afterwards to, for example, hold a pose longer.

For more information, see Step recording to capture "on ones" or "on twos"

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