Sunday, 28 March 2021

Speed Lipsync - How to Animate Dialogue Fast

In this short video (less than five minutes long) I set out the basic principles for animating dialogue and lipsync swiftly and cleanly. The trick is to avoid over-complicating the process.  Start by animating the jaw open and closed - open on the vowels, closed on the consonants (make sure you close the mouth for at least two frames on Ms Bs and Ps, or they won't "read"). Then, layer in the wide and narrow mouth shapes (narrow for "oo" and "w" shapes, wide for "a" and "ee" shapes). Tidy it all up, and you're done.  

Lipsync by Victoria Bailey
The secret of good lipsync
So what does an animator do to create great lipsync in a hurry? Of course, the secret of good lipsync really lies in great acting. After all, if you get the acting right, the lipsync is really an afterthought.
Once the acting is done, do the lipsync - but don't bogged down in the detail. Follow the basic steps:

Step 1
Open the character's jaw on the vowels, and close on the consonants.

But make sure you don’t open and close on every single consonant and vowel, especially when doing rapid-fire dialogue, else your lipsync will look "chattery" and over-animated. 

Avoid single frame transitions; ie where the mouth is closed at frame 1, opens at frame 2, and closes at frame 3. This is much too fast; it will read as an error.

Step 2
Find your wide mouth shapes. Especially “ee” shapes. Get a nice contrast between wide mouth shapes and....

Step 3
Find your narrow mouth shapes. Especially “oo” shapes. Get a nice contrast between these and your wide mouth shapes.

Step 4
Make sure all your main consonant shapes are working.
Check all the shapes, make sure they really read well.
Especially watch out for:
1. M’s, B’s, P’s
2. F’s, V’s
3. TH
4. L
Hold your main consonants for at least 2 frames, especially M’s B’s & P’s. One frame isn't enough for these consonants to read clearly.
Joris Van Laar

Step 5

Make sure all your main vowel shapes are working.
Do the A's look like A's? Do the "oo" shapes look like they are making an "oo" sound?

And finally...get yourself a mirror!
Look at the desk of any animator who is animating lipsync and you will find a small make-up mirror. This isn't for lipstick - it's so you can make the mouth shapes yourself, and look in the mirror. Nothing beats acting it out yourself.

To see more resources on animating dialogue and lipsync, see the links below:


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