Delays, papagayos and character templates
Hey, it’s been a long time! Let me share some quick news with you.
If you remember, in November I have planned a lot of stuff to be done by February. Unfortunately, none of the outlined tasks are completed by the moment. That means we are not ready to launch the new episode of Morevna now and this initiative will be postponed for a few months.
But that doesn’t mean we were doing nothing on that period. In fact, our efforts gone into unexpected direction. We’ve been put into the situation that forced us to concetrate on developing the technology which allows to produce simple character animation in the very short time. This development resulted in the special character template for Synfig. It is based on the stickman template, but introduces such featureas as IK emulation, library of reusable elements and mimic controls. In the video below you can see it in action.
Since we used to collaborate with people from all around the world, we have paid a special attention to make this template suitable for use with different languages. For example, in the mimic control widget you can have phoneme labels localized.
Another interesting challenge was a lipsync automatization. I was looking for a free/libre tool to integrate with and found Papagayo. The version provided at the official website is known to many people as abandoned and non-working with 64-bit systems. Though, I was lucky to find a not-so-well-known repository (http://code.google.com/p/papagayo/) which works perfectly and also have many advanced features, such as wide range of languages supported.
The problem was that I didn’t liked the Preston Blair phoneme set used in this tool by default. So we have modified this version of Papagayo, adding a possibility to use different phoneme sets and fixing some bugs. Finally we have integrated this tool with our character template and the video below demonstrates how it works now.
While the Papagayo patches are waiting to be accepted upstream, you can find source code of our changes at the github repository here. – Good news that our changes got accepted into the upstream repository. And yes, we are providing a Papagayo packages now!
At the moment the demonstrated character template is still in development. We plan to publish the template in April and make it available under the CC-Zero license.
The main reason we not publishing it now is that the character structure and specification is still a subject for change. So, for “unstable” version there is no guarantees that derivative characters will remain compatible with further features. ^__^
We hope that this template is going to help Synfig Studio users to create simple but good-looking animations in a very short time and with a minimal efforts.
Also, remember that I am planning to give a workshop at the Libre Graphics Meeting (10-13 April, Madrid), dedicated to the use of this character template. Of course it depends on if I will manage to get a funding for my trip or not, but still there are some chances that I will be there.
BTW, I have a special offer for the residents of Russia – since my travel to Madrid goes through Novosibirsk and Moscow, I can offer to give an additional workshops about character animation in Synfig there. This could be a personal workshop or a public workshop for a wider audience, I’m open to all suggestions. Maybe someone will be interested in that.