View Full Version : Lip sync and facial animation software shoot out

01-05-2010, 05:30 PM
Hi everybody

At my company we are just about to start 3 back to back ads featuring a walking talking character, all in Lightwave of course! He needs to be lip-synced and animated to a high standard so need some advice as to what to use for the syncing.

I'm going to be of using some form of lip sync/facial software other than morph mixer, and would like to see what other people think of these packages.

No1: TAFA: Timothy Albee and Mac Reiter's creation

No2: Magpie Pro: old but any good? (I remember using this 10 yrs ago)

No3: Mimic Pro: Daz, is this just for Poser objects?

No4: Lip Sync Master: never used this, has any one?

So if you have any views/info/crits on any of the above then please make a post, any information will be greatly appreciated.


01-05-2010, 05:47 PM
I assume ur after automated lip sync here given the tools u mention...

First, dont think Ive ever seen those automated lipsyncs work out particularly well... always looks kinda lifeless to me... plus, since they just cross blend between phoneme shapes, u still get bad deforms at the inbetweens (variable depending on how extreme ur morfs go)... but still, kinda ugly most the time.

So unless ur planning to key it urself, Id go with setting up the face with bones, and using facial mocap instead... synteyes, zigntrack, theres a couple others too I think.

01-05-2010, 07:34 PM
A free thing you might be interested in is papagayo. It's a free software which allows you to easily adjust your timing. I've written an importer which will load its .dat files into a LW character.

01-05-2010, 08:24 PM
splinegod had a lipsync class, but we are still waiting for the DVD of that class.

It had good information... perhaps when they finally release it (been 4months already) you can purchase that.

01-06-2010, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the info,
I think TAFA is probably the way to go on this project, although RebelHill, Megalodon you mentioned Zigntrack which I had a look at, and was pretty impressed, mostly due to the low price!

On this project however the client has said that the character is 110% human (even though he is a robot) so over-playing the facial stuff a bit will certainly help, so pushing morphs to extremes may give us the control and look we need and given that TAFA was developed with LW primarly in mind I think this is a safer bet with pipeline, deadline etc.

saying all that, I will probably get Zigntrack anyway!

btw RebelHill we are using your rigging for the character

01-06-2010, 01:29 PM
btw RebelHill we are using your rigging for the character

A commendable choice (;

01-09-2010, 06:28 PM
Though it seems like the case is already closed on this one, I figured I would go officially on record as stating that MimicPro does work with LW9.5 and LW9.6. If you plan to work with LW9.3.1, you can make your lipsyncs in LW9.5 or LW9.6, then save out the data as a text doc and reload it to your character in LW9.3.1 using good ol' fashion morph mixer.

It isn't perfect, but in my experience, none of these are perfect when left to calculate without any help from the artist. With MimicPro you can add a text document which helps the tool make more accurate mouth shapes, and you can adjust all the timings yourself by simply sliding 'clips' around very much like Lightwave's own MotionMixer. Then from there, you can go into Lightwave's graph editor for final tweaks.

We've been using this tool on an animated feature project for the past 8 months or so and have found it indispensable for roughing in the lipsync and then passing it along to our top level guys for fine tuning. It is hard to balk at the quality of the slightly less-than-perfect automated results when it only takes a few seconds to calculate huge long dialogues that would take hours (or days) otherwise.

Good luck with everything.

01-10-2010, 02:35 AM
Use the numeric shift in the graph editor...

05-10-2010, 09:54 AM
also check zign track, http://www.zigncreations.com/zigntrack.html

06-27-2010, 04:48 PM
I'd say... don't use lipsync software.
Learn to animate instead, and you'll see lipsync can be done fast and easy. The problem with lipsync software is that they tackle the problem in a tech way, and the results are visually horrifying :) . If you learn to animate, you'll be able to lipsync in a visual way, and you'll see that most of lipsync can be boiled down to a few rules and it's really fast and easy to do (lipsync is the probably the simplest aspect of facial animation, if you ask me).
Also, you could try to use mocap maybe?... but then you're in a heap of tech trouble, hahaha, things get way more complicated and you'd need a whole lot more experience to get things to look good).
Bottom line is... if you use lipsync software, your lipsync will look like some sort of robotic regurgitation, like the character has a machine gun in its mouth. I never seen those tools come up with anything else. Do it manually. :jam:

06-28-2010, 05:22 PM
Perhaps you should check out TAFA - since it was created by a professional animator who wanted lipsyncing to be more intuitive AND easy. The results using TAFA are not "visually horrifying" and are really quite incredible. TAFA is NOT an automated solution - perhaps THAT is the kind of lipsync software you are referring to?

If you are talking about Timothy Albee's lipsyncing software, yes I have seen that, and it seems an interesting tool to work with, and obviously not an automatic solution, the way Magpie is. It's, basically, working by hand, only with a fancier interface.
I think people tend to overcomplicate this whole lipsync problem though. It really is not such a hard thing to do, and I think it's best if you do it manually, just like any other aspect of keyframe animation. And I'm only talking from a quality-animation standpoint here. Obviously, Magpie's real time results beat by far, in terms of speed, any hand-made keyframing. But just like you can't really get quality animation out of blending clips in the mixer and using animation cycles, you can't cut such corners in facial animation either. If you want it good, you either do it by hand, or find a really sophisticated way to use mocap (but that's not really a solution for the average guy, because it almost always fails, even on big projects done by big studios. I guess you'd have to be something like Weta and working on a project like Avatar).

06-29-2010, 03:42 PM
Yo Megalodon, I just expressed my opinions here. I don't like the way this discussion is going, so I'll just step out.

06-29-2010, 05:14 PM
"I think it's best" means he thinks it's best, and doesn't mean he thinks others have to follow his example, so i disagree on him being arrogant. it's probably more of how people interpenetrate it.

but going back to the original subject, it seams that all methods have their loss/ their benefits. i'm personally quite exited about TAFA though for cartoon/ animal animations, and Sign Track 2 for humanoid animations.

doing things "manually" like v_m says is possible, but requires tons of time.

looking into Maestro for facial animation is another possibility.
video reference is also great, especially when doing humanoid animations.

06-29-2010, 05:42 PM
yes, that "interpenetration" might very possibly have been a language thing... :]

06-30-2010, 04:57 AM
Just setting up a some joystick controls takes only a few minutes.
Very powerfull and easy to animate. No plugs needed.:thumbsup:
Much better then sliders ;)

06-30-2010, 04:01 PM
ok just an Update about my first TAFA animation project. I cannot show anything right now because i m dealing with a National TV.

For many years i was doing just archviz so i was far away from character animation and lipsync animation. After collapsing archviz business i had no choice by trying a character animation project.

I listened Mega i purchased TAFA and started to make some characters. I even modify all my characters with the default character comes with TAFA. Morphs were there and i made 15 characters from same mesh. I wrote some jokes i started play with TAFA. My wife watched and she laughed the characters, she said it is funny.

Then i purchased IKB MOCAP DVD from Larry Shultz, Kurv ..and animate as cool as i can.

With amazing workflow and speed of TAFA i managed to gather a 5 min. demo. I took it to a A national TV for kids. Director of the channel watched this demo and started to laugh. He asked which plugin i used for especially facial animation, How large my team and how hard was the all work..

They are right now in the process of deciding how many episodes they want. Can you believe it? I cant...

What i want to tell you ...there are some tools which Inspires to work more, create more...and others just do the job. TAFA is just inspiring. Right now i m holding my breath and waiting for the last call...

Without TAFA and Mocap IKB DVD i could not dream to make a single character animation moment with my current abilities. Right now i m preparing 3 more demos for other channels.. I can do that because of TAFA. Because it simply force you to think as a facial animator. YOu have control and speed. I think my character ..because TAFA focus on character. And what a software is this that v 1 is that much complete. It is just mind bending.

i hope i can post here my trailer. Please do not say to them that i m working with Lightwave. They think i have a animation company with 12 seats of Maya. ...


06-30-2010, 05:33 PM
from what i saw you can also break down the morphs (use less morphs) to speed up the process.
(it won't be as good, but a quite interesting time-saver, often good for cartoon series)

07-08-2010, 09:42 AM
how many the capture motion take it ?

07-08-2010, 04:23 PM
? :]

07-09-2010, 07:38 AM
looks alright, but i'd rather go with Zign Track 2 ($190)

or the advanced Zign Track Pro, which uses multiple cams and looks to be very accurate.

but hey, the more the merrier ;]

07-15-2010, 11:00 AM
When it comes to lip sync, I have always been a fan of BRUTE FORCE. I learned from the old ones, the preston phenome set. I animate all facial expressions by hand, and with good reason.
The differences between automation and doing it by hand are often obvious. How can a string of commands written by some programmer you've never met possibly capture the nuances of your character? You've worn out your wrist conceiving, sketching, modeling, rigging, weight mapping and surfacing the beast - now is not the time to cut corners. Just my opinion, I could be wrong. :jam:

07-15-2010, 03:34 PM
dang, i actually dreamt about lip-sync just now....
too much 3D for me....(!)

then again, i actually solved a 3D problem in my dreams, hah!! http://erikalstad.com/backup/anims.php_files/aiwebs_017.gif