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 concentrate 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 ( 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.

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10 Responses

  1. Your work is amazing. I’ve been spending the past couple years trying to figure out a workflow for Synfig. Have you ever thought of publishing a workflow. I would definitely pay for something like that. If you end up at the conference, please think of screen capturing it so you can post for those of us that can’t make it. Again, thanks so much for all your tireless work!

  2. Hi, Stephen! I’ve been keeping an eye at your blog ( and found it very cool.

    The problem with publishing our full workflow is that it’s changes faster than we document it. ^__^ I wish I can have a free gap to document everything we have, but something inside of me tells that we have to go higher and I can’t resist that feeling. ^__^
    So at the moment we just publishing the random notes here.

    Recording screencast is a good idea especially if it will be combined with workshop video. Anyway, I planning to make a few video tutorials after the template will be released.

  3. Konstantin!

    Hey there! Thanks for the quick response. And thanks so much for posting how to make Papagayo run on Ubuntu! The only computer that I had it running on was a Mac tablet that I with an old OS.

    I’m gearing up to get back to work on my character and hopeful animation. The biggest problem I’ve come up against is the number of shapes and using a lot of shading. My computer seems to be having a difficult time processing all the info. I tried working on my Ubuntu laptop and iMac with the file and got the same, sluggish result.

    Not like you aren’t slammed with work, but can I send you the file and you can tell me how crazy I am?

    Again, thanks for everything you do! You’ve truly been an inspiration!


  4. Hi, Stephen! I have contacted the LGM organizers and they replied that there are no plans to officially stream/record workshops and BOFs.
    My influence is not enough to change the situation, but you can write to organizers directly (see contacts here – You’re not the only one who asking the workshops to be recorded, so a few such requests from different people might convince them to think about that. ^__^

  5. Thanks for the reply. Maybe they misunderstand and are thinking video recording instead of just a screen capture. Can they just put screen-capture software on their systems? I assume that you’ll be working on their set up? That’s easy and takes no overhead. I tried logging into their site, but it wouldn’t take my WordPress info. I’ll look into it later today and let you know.

    Thanks so much for looking into it for us! I really appreciate it:)

  6. Yes, we were talking about video recording. Screencapture is my responsiblity, because I will be demonstrating from my laptop. I hope thee will be enough space on my HD to record all the stuff. ^__^

  7. Hey, I was wondering what kind of characters I can use for this animation program, synfig if I’m correct. I’m wanting to try to make a few animation projects and publish them on YouTube. The characters I’d like to use are from both Sonic The Hedgehog (as well as Sonic X if possible) and the ponies from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, are there any templates/models that I can use for this or do I need to build them from scratch? I’m also looking for environmental settings (Arenas, clubs, auditoriums, concert halls, caves, hangars, hallways, parking lot, stone room, and living room settings) as well as weather settings (rain, cloudy, etc.), and daytime settings (Day, night, dusk, midnight, etc.). Also, I’d like the huge concert tv model, lights, laser lights, mood lights, and stage lighting if that’s possible.
    I’m wanting to do concert like movies with these characters with songs from different artists and their permission. I’d like to get everything that I need ASAP. Thank you guys.

  8. Konstatin, have you heard of and/or looked at Yolo for lipsyncing?

    I have not really used Papagayo in a while so I forget its major features, but Yolo has been working pretty well for a few people where I work. It sounds like Papagayo is working well for you now, but I figured I would just make you aware of Yolo in case you had not heard of it.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Hello, Klaatu! Yes, i was trying Yolo earlier. The main advantage of Papagayo was that it already had support for several languages (this is critical since we do a lot of lipsync in Russian). Another “advantage” is that I am more comfortable with Python than Java. ^_^

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