Originally posted on 30 October 2021. Scroll down for news of the Character Animator 22.1 update.
Adobe has released Character Animator 22.0, the latest version of its real-time puppet animation software.
The update adds Body Tracker, a new system that tracks a performer’s arms, torso and legs, enabling them to perform full-body animations for a digital character in real time.
In addition, a new Smart Replays system simplifies the process of triggering pre-recorded animations.
Generate puppet-style animation from video footage of an actor, complete with facial expressions
First released in 2017, Character Animator generates real-time puppet-style animation from video footage of an actor, complete with lip sync and facial expressions.
Subsequent updates have added the option to trigger readymade character animations when streaming live, and keyframe and graph editing tools for refining animations offline.
As well as being widely used on YouTube, Character Animator has been used to produce US broadcast series like Our Cartoon President, and won a technical Emmy Award in 2020.
New in Character Animator 22.0: support for real-time full-body puppeteering
The major new feature in the Character Animator 22.0 is Body Tracker, which enables the software to track a puppeteer’s arms, torso and legs in real time, and apply the motion to the digital character.
The system, shown in the video above, turns Character Animator into more of a full-body animation tool.
While it was previously possible to animate a character’s body, users were largely confined to moving on the spot, or to triggering previously created animations.
In addition, the Head Turner behaviour, which switches a digital puppet between front, quarter and profile views, has now been updated to support full body views, and renamed Head & Body Turner.
Other changes include Smart Replays, intended to streamline the user interface used to trigger pre-recorded animations during performances.
But why is it version 22.0?
Despite the enormous hike in version number since the release of Character Animator 4.0 in May, you haven’t missed Character Animator 5.0 through 21.0: there haven’t been any major intervening releases.
Adobe says that the change is intended to simplify the deployment of multiple apps in a creative pipeline with “users with any 22.x version [able to] work with any other 22.x”.
Updated 16 December 2021: Adobe has released Character Animator 22.1.
The update adds Puppet Maker, a new toolset for generating 2D characters for use in the software from readymade body and facial parts, as shown in the video above.
Users also get the option to generate automatic lip-sync animation for a character from a text transcript of the dialogue, as well as from an audio recording of the speech itself.
Pricing and availability
Character Animator 22.1 is available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.14.1+. The software is rental-only, via Adobe’s All Apps subscriptions. They cost $79.49/month or $599.88/year.
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