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View Full Version : TAFA still the best bang for my facial animation buck?



Spinland
05-03-2013, 10:38 AM
Looking to ramp up my FA speed factor over the basic morph mixer panel, and from my searching thus far it appears as though TAFA is still a good solution (and at US$200 the price is right in my wheelhouse). I'm even cool with needing Windows to run it (BootCamp is my friend). Playing with the demo version right now and it seems to be everything I hoped it would.

Before I pull the trigger, does anyone want to urge me to consider alternatives?

Many thanks in advance!

tyrot
05-03-2013, 11:01 AM
TAFA is one of the MOST amazing - useful - crashfree - super intuitive software i ever used. You will LOVE this software! .. Do not even think a second. Marc is a GREAT guy too.

MorphMixer of Lightwave is a notepad if you compare with TAFA- Tafa is super fast - super easy to use and super fun..

I even use it for Hand morphs - really ..

Spinland
05-03-2013, 12:47 PM
Well, I've just completed all the start-up examples and tutorials included with the demo, and I must say it looks pretty slick.

Greenlaw
05-03-2013, 03:15 PM
That's encouraging to hear--coincidentally, I am reinstalling my license of TAFA this afternoon for a little R&D. I had only played with TAFA briefly several years ago when I bought the program so I wasn't sure how well it would run on my current computer.

I suspect it's not going to be appropriate for our current short film production but will probably use it for our next one.

G.

Megalodon2.0
05-03-2013, 03:42 PM
TAFA is one of those programs that I cannot recommend highly enough. I completed a 44 minute "short" in 2011 and I was able to do the lipsync (lots of dialog) in less than two weeks - and it was the FIRST time I used it seriously in a production. I had bought it when it first came out - at $495 - and anticipated using it later. I recall trying to wrap my head around it twice and just not getting it - I don't learn software easily. The third time I brought it out to test it for a "last time" and I had that "ah-Ha moment" and everything clicked. I set up my characters accordingly and started lipsyncing. IN fact it turned out to be so much fun that I lipsynced the parts that were not intended to be on camera! There were MANY times I would quickly put in the base phonemes and play it back and it looked almost perfect just with those base phonemes. A little tweaking here and there on the strengths of the morphs and it looked great.

The trick to speed - IMO - is to set up your morphs and showing the phoneme with the word/mouth shape they represent in the name of the morph. Then in TAFA it's easy to quickly peruse them to find the exact shape you need - then just drag and drop it into the timeline and you're on your way. Another thing to remember is "less is more." Oftentimes I was trying to place too many morphs to account for EVERY sound - but our mouth shapes don't form every sound when we speak since one word can flow into the next. It doesn't take too long to get the flow - and this comes from someone who does not like to learn new software if I don't have to. ;)

And of course you can puppet many things as well such as eye blinks, scowls. smiles, smirks - anything that you've got morphs for. My three main characters had over 100 morphs. When I was on Mac Reiters forum, I felt like I had to apologize because it seemed like I was being paid to play-up this software - I was gushing over it so much. The truth is, it's just great and I REALLY enjoyed using it. I recently completed the lipsync for episode #2 and it was just as fun as it was the first time.

Greenlaw
05-03-2013, 03:52 PM
Cool! Thanks for the info and tips. My situation is the same--bought it ages ago for $495 with intention to use it later. Well, 'later' is finally here. :)

I noticed that the software has been updated several times from the version I have so I just now wrote Mac about how to get an update to the latest. Hope I hear from him soon.

G.

Greenlaw
05-03-2013, 04:21 PM
Wow, Mac is very responsive!

I have the very latest installed now. Looking forward to these tests. :)

G.

Megalodon2.0
05-03-2013, 06:06 PM
Cool! Thanks for the info and tips. My situation is the same--bought it ages ago for $495 with intention to use it later. Well, 'later' is finally here. :)

I noticed that the software has been updated several times from the version I have so I just now wrote Mac about how to get an update to the latest. Hope I hear from him soon.

G.
Yeah. The last version I have installed here is 1.2.2.8. If yours is newer, let me know.


Wow, Mac is very responsive!

I have the very latest installed now. Looking forward to these tests. :)

G.
He really is great and VERY responsive. I hope one day we'll have TAFA 2.

I've attached a screengrab showing the list of phonemes and how I labeled them. At first I just had the standard label like AA, AO, AE, T, TH etc. When I found it slow and had to try to constantly remember what those abbreviations stood for, I added the extra help: AA - Odd, AE - At, AH - hUT, etc. This made is MUCH quicker setting everything up and I would speed through the lipsync.

Spinland
05-03-2013, 06:17 PM
That's a good system, thanks for sharing it!

The version I got today is also 1.2.2.8 so that seems to be the most current. As I understand the process the full version is the same download, plus an unlock key.

Megalodon2.0
05-03-2013, 07:10 PM
That's a good system, thanks for sharing it!

The version I got today is also 1.2.2.8 so that seems to be the most current. As I understand the process the full version is the same download, plus an unlock key.

Okay, so we're all up-to-date. :)

Yes, I would think you would get the unlock code. When I got it, there was ONLY a hardcopy version which came with the unlock code and you also had to input a code for yourself. It's probably simpler now.

I'm not an expert in the software - and only use the .mdd export - but if anyone needs any help, just let me know.

For the record, I've used Mimic for Lightwave (and for Poser) as well as Magpie Pro (MANY years ago) and while they gave quick results, there was quite a bit of cleanup that was required. I found that doing it from scratch with TAFA ended up yielding faster results AND it looked better.

Spinland
05-03-2013, 07:13 PM
When you work with MDD export, do you just bring the head into TAFA, or the whole figure?

Megalodon2.0
05-03-2013, 07:19 PM
When you work with MDD export, do you just bring the head into TAFA, or the whole figure?

For me, I've ONLY brought in the head - my character occupies several layers. Layer 1 has the body; layer 2 has the head, layer 3 the left eyeball, layer 4 the right eyeball and layer 5 initially had the hair. I just saved the head object only and loaded that into TAFA. The most important thing is... make certain you use the EXACT same head object in TAFA that you will use in Layout, otherwise you'll end up with allot of screwed up polygons. That's why I copied the head directly from my character object and saved it in it's own file which TAFA accessed.

Of course you CAN bring the entire character in TAFA and (I think) you can make any parts invisible. I just found it easier (and probably faster) to use JUST the head.

Spinland
05-03-2013, 07:30 PM
That sounds like the best method from a TAFA standpoint, but I then wonder how the layers messes with rigging--especially with Genoma. I suppose after the MDD is applied you can move everything to the same layer?

Greenlaw suggested using the morph mixer output but in some cases I'd hate to lose the asymmetric morph features.

Megalodon2.0
05-03-2013, 07:56 PM
That's a good question. i doubt that you could put them in all one layer since the morphing would (I believe) affect the entire object. Of course the workaround would be to use the entire object inside TAFA. I would run a test to see if you can do it your way - paste the head object into one layer with your character. I've give it a shot but right now I've got all my machines rendering a business project.

I think I tried the morph mixer method once, but then decided that .mdd was better for me - I agree, the limitation of morph mixer was something that I did not want to live with.

tyrot
05-04-2013, 01:21 AM
i also use - MDD workflow. Always in separate HEAD layer ... But i was also using DPKIT's mdd reader and combining two. I gotta open those old files to check... - This thread has some nice ideas..

Rayek
05-04-2013, 03:29 AM
Quick question: how do you import obj files for different morphs in Tafa?

Spinland
05-04-2013, 05:45 AM
I believe you must first apply them as morphs in Modeler. There's a command to create one based on what's in a background layer.

chikega
05-04-2013, 09:21 AM
I just tried to download the trial version and my Viper software blocked it as a known "Trojan". Anyone having issues with this?

Greenlaw
05-04-2013, 01:03 PM
The TAFA trial I downloaded yesterday seemed clean with Panda Cloud. (I had downloaded the trial and applied my 'ancient' license file to it--worked fine.)

Could it be a false positive? Last week I started seeing several of those with my previous virus scanner--it was actually getting annoying so I replaced my virus scanner.

G.

Megalodon2.0
05-04-2013, 03:08 PM
Quick question: how do you import obj files for different morphs in Tafa?


I believe you must first apply them as morphs in Modeler. There's a command to create one based on what's in a background layer.
Yes, this is just what I did. Create a figure with endomorphs - and they must be named correctly with the proper extension in order for TAFA to work properly.

In LW11.5 in the Map tab in Modeler - at the bottom - Bkgrd to Morph. My characters were created from DAZ 2D characters, brought into Poser and exported. My base object was exported as OBJ since that retained all UV's, then all morph objects were exported at LWO, placed in the background of the base object and then use Background to Morph. Worked flawlessly. I'm sure there's probably a better workflow, but this worked for me.

chikega
05-04-2013, 03:18 PM
The TAFA trial I downloaded yesterday seemed clean with Panda Cloud. (I had downloaded the trial and applied my 'ancient' license file to it--worked fine.)

Could it be a false positive? Last week I started seeing several of those with my previous virus scanner--it was actually getting annoying so I replaced my virus scanner.

G.

I believe it is a false positive. I just may have to do change when my subscription ends this year.

Spinland
05-04-2013, 06:25 PM
My base object was exported as OBJ since that retained all UV's, then all morph objects were exported at LWO, placed in the background of the base object and then use Background to Morph. Worked flawlessly. I'm sure there's probably a better workflow, but this worked for me.

Interesting. I've experimented with this from Poser in order to re-rig some DAZ models for use in LW, but I also exported the morphs as OBJ. Never thought to just out them as LWO files.

- - - Updated - - -


I just tried to download the trial version and my Viper software blocked it as a known "Trojan". Anyone having issues with this?

AVG Free didn't so much as peep when I installed my trial version.

erikals
05-04-2013, 11:45 PM
Megalodon2.0
I completed a 44 minute "short" in 2011 and I was able to do the lipsync (lots of dialog) in less than two weeks...

WTF... that's Incredible! http://erikalstad.com/backup/misc.php_files/smile.gif

Megalodon2.0
05-05-2013, 12:42 AM
WTF... that's Incredible! http://erikalstad.com/backup/misc.php_files/smile.gif

It really was crazy, but I got into "the zone" - and of course enjoying it completely also helped a great deal.

This isn't Pixar quality lipsync - just good enough for a kids CGI cartoon - but considering I'd NEVER done anything like it before, I was pretty impressed with the quality that TAFA allowed me to accomplish. Mimic for LW, Poser auto lipsync and MagPie could not compete with the quality and speed that TAFA is capable of. I can't wait to see what Mac has in store for v2 - I'll be one of the first in line!

Rayek
05-05-2013, 01:11 AM
I just discovered TAFA also supports import of generic Wavefront *obj files:

Quote:

To use OBJs, make a subdirectory in the same directory as your main figure, and name it based on the figure with an extra "_Morphs" added. For example, if your figure is in C:\3D\John.obj, then your morphs need to be in a directory called C:\3D\John_Morphs. The morphs themselves can either be named just with the morph name (Blink.obj) or can include the figure's name as a prefix (John_Blink.obj, John-Blink.obj, John:Blink.obj, etc).

To take advantage of TAFA grouping and palettization, you will need to follow TAFA's morph naming scheme, which currently uses periods as separators. That means that a better name for Blink.obj would be Eye.Blink.obj, or even Eye.Blink.D.obj (the D will put it in the DOWN slots of an automatically created palette).

If you are using Poser CR2 files, the morphs are inside the CR2, so you don't need to worry about folders or anything. You will still need to use the period separator if you want to take advantage of grouping.

Auto-splitting of morphs does occur, but may not be terribly useful for the high polygon count models that are generally used in OBJ and CR2 files. The split is razor sharp, which looks unnatural on a high poly face.

Tested this in Blender, and it works. Now I can work with both LW and Blender in TAFA. I have characters in both apps, and conversion is easy now.