New features in Preview 3

Stick tool

The Stick tool (in the Puppet panel) allows you to create rigid segments in the warpable mesh of a puppet’s rubber sheet. The area around the segment cannot bend, but the segment can stretch or shrink.

For example, you can create sticks (segments) for a character’s upper arm and lower arm, leaving a gap at the elbow so it can bend there.

Take blending

You can blend performances at the beginning and the end of a take to smoothly transition between existing takes or the default appearance. You can also customize blend durations or quickly set a take to blend with the default duration.

For more information, see Blend performances together.

Multi-touch display support in the Dragger (formerly Mouse Tracker) behavior

If you have a touch-enabled display, you can control Draggable (formerly Mousetrack) handles by touching the display. Multiple handles can be controlled simultaneously. You can perform the following actions on the skin at the handle location:

  • Move
  • Scale
  • Rotate
For more information, see Dragger.

Import project

Share puppets and scenes between projects or other users by importing one project's assets into the current one.

For more information, see Importing projects.

Split Lip Sync into Visemes

If you want finer control over recorded visemes, you can convert them into equivalent keyboard-triggered takes for the Lip Sync behavior. That will allow you to move, trim, and delete these takes as needed.

For more information, see Split lip sync into visemes.

Recording speed

If you want to capture finer movements in a performance, you can record and perform at a slower speed than the scene’s frame rate used for playback.

For more information, see Recording speed.

Localized user interface

The user interface is now localized into French, German, and Japanese.

Head Turner behavior

This behavior switches between subpuppets (for example, different views like the front, quarter, and side/profile of a character) as you swivel your head left or right in front of the webcam.

To specify the controllable views, name the layers at least two of the following:

  • Left Profile
  • Left Quarter
  • Front
  • Right Quarter
  • Right Profile

The number of views determines the distance your head swivels. If you provide Left Profile, Front, and Right Profile, the Front view triggers when you look straight at the camera. Similarly, you can trigger the profile views if you look at either side. If you provide all five views, turn further to the sides to trigger the profile views.

For more information, see Head Turner.

Lip Sync with keyboard control

The Lip Sync behavior has a new Keyboard Input parameter that allows you to display specific visemes by pressing the first letter of the viseme layer’s name (for example, A for the Ah viseme, D for D, W for W-Oo, and so on).

For more information, see Lip Sync.

Cycle Layers enhancements

The Cycle Layers behavior now has the ability to play layers in reverse, and allow a cycle to finish after the trigger key is released.

In addition, several parameter changes have been made for flexibility with keyboard triggers.

For more information, see Cycle layers.

Split track items and takes

You can split takes and tracks at the playhead for finer editing, or to insert a gap.

For more information, see Split track items.

Take bar visualizations

When you expand a puppet bar in the Timeline panel, the recorded takes for each behavior parameter are collapsed by default into a projection bar summarizing the timing of takes for that parameter.

When takes for a parameter overlap in time, the topmost take at any given time is used. The take data below it is ignored and shown without color as if in a shadow.

Vertical lines on the parameter’s projection bar indicate transitions between takes for a parameter.

For more information, see Show or hide recorded takes for a puppet.

Extending takes

Extending a take bar from either end now holds the take’s recorded values before the original In point and after the original Out point of the take.

If you split a take, extending from the split point just reveals the trimmed part.

Linked take selection control 

Selecting a projection or take bar in the Timeline panel no longer also selects linked takes (other parameters that were recorded at the same time) by default, but you can enable the Linked Selection button in the upper-left corner of the panel to also select linked takes.

Puppet handle visualization enhancements

The handles on a puppet now have the following appearances based on where they were created and what you can do with them:

A solid outline around a dot indicates a handle created in the Puppet panel. You can rename, move, and delete this type of handle.

A solid outline only (with no dot) indicates a handle originating in the artwork file. You can delete this type of handle, but cannot move or rename it in the Puppet panel.

A dashed outline indicates an origin handle originating in the artwork file. You cannot select, delete, remove, or rename this type of handle in the Puppet panel.

Puppet mesh visualization enhancements

When you enable Show Mesh in the Puppet panel, the mesh now represents everything contributing to the mesh, including the higher and lower levels of the puppet hierarchy, not just for a selected puppet layer. 

For example, if you select a puppet layer whose parent and child puppets are not set to Warp Independently, you can see the mesh that all of them combine to create.

Previously, you could only see the mesh for the selected puppet layer.

In addition, handles for this combined mesh now also appear, with the handles associated with the selected puppet layers appearing with a brighter color for their handle names.

Behavior menu (remove and rename behaviors)

You can remove a behavior from a puppet via the menu command in the Behavior menu. Click the "menu" button on the same row as the behavior.

You can also rename a behavior, useful to differentiate the purpose or target of a behavior, such as a Dragger behavior for the left hand of a character. 

The menu appears when editing a puppet’s behaviors at the project level, when a puppet is selected in the Project panel or Puppet panel.

Edit keyboard triggers

Specify keyboard triggers for layers in the Puppet panel, instead of in the artwork file.

For more information, see Edit keyboard triggers.

Latchable keyboard triggers

In previous versions of Character Animator, keyboard triggers, by default, initiated some action while the key was held down.

Now, you can allow a key to “latch” so you do not have to hold down the key — press the key to show a layer, then press again to hide it.

For more information, see Latchable triggers.

Duplicate track items and takes

If you want to create a copy of a track item or take to use at a different time, duplicate it.

For more information, see Duplicate track items.

Changes in puppet layer information

The layer list in the left sidebar of the Puppet panel now indicates the number of handles in a layer's source puppet, whether behaviors are applied, and the letter associated with a keyboard trigger (if specified for a layer).

A. Number of handles on a puppet B. Puppet has behaviors applied C. Trigger key 

Switch between projects

You can switch between projects by selecting them from a list of the most recently opened projects.

To open a recent project:

  • Choose it from the File > Open Recent submenu. The first item in the submenu is the current project.

Other changes

  • You can import Photoshop Large Document Format (.psb) files.
  • There is updated content for the Getting Started Project (opened via Start Here! link on the Welcome panel).
  • Behaviors you add to a puppet are now twirled open by default in the Properties panel to make it quicker to adjust their properties.
  • In the Timeline panel, take bars do not display the take number and parameter name until you select them.

Issues fixed in this release

  • If you pose a character using Hold in Place mode while stopped, then start recording, the initial posed handle locations is now captured. For example, you can pose a character’s hands at exact locations before recording.
  • Playing from the middle of a take or trimming a take no longer causes handles to be moved relative to their current location. Instead, they now play/show what is recorded.
  • When you use Dragger with Dangle, the After Move (Return to Rest, Hold in Place) options now work as intended to return handles to rest or hold them in place.
  • Breathe: Direction and Offset works as expected. Also, the default Offset value is now 0.
  • Several miscellaneous performance and stability fixes.
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