Short Lip Sync (LS1)

For lip sync workflow. we start with four primary viseme shapes. B/M/PEEAH and OO

Please refer to FOL for assignment weighting and due date

Short Lip Sync (LS1)
This is a relatively simple assignment, a quick 3-6 sec lip sync piece with one character. You can use the rig provided or find a suitable alternative. We're actually doing this backwards from normal animation workflow, attacking the lip sync first! Stage your scene so that the character is framed in a medium close up shot or 'MCU' in a 3/4 view.  Featured principles: Posing, Timing, and Staging. 3-6 sec. long (72-144 fr)

Hand-in file parameters:
  • Movie file type must be .MOV  or .MP4
  • Either H.264 or MPEG4 compression
  • 1920x1080 resolution (16:9 ratio)
  • Animation controls, resolution gate hidden
  • Frame counter (current frame) visible
  • File size must be less than <250 MB
  • File must be named as follows:
       <Your last name>_<Your first name>_<assignment code>.<file type>

What I'll be grading on this assignment:
  • Viseme Sync: Does the lip sync align well with the audio?
  • Mouth Shapes: Are your shapes broad and clear?
  • Posing(*), Pantomime: Have you created a body performance that matches the dialogue?
  • Is the scene staged as a medium closeup shot from a 3/4 view with good composition?
  • Do your poses show clear silhouette, strong line of action, and appealing asymmetry?
  • Have you shown your work in progress and applied feedback correctly?
  • Are the files submitted correctly, with proper resolution and format? 

This is an example of a "medium closeup", "MCU"
Fun Fact: Ramsey served community service for being mean to Theon Greyjoy. What a misfit!

In class activity

- Introducing basics of lip sync
- Audio2Face (
- The McGurk Effect and Happy in Paraguay (warning: naughty words)
- Visemes, Phonemes and which is faster: light or sound?
- Making a basic set of shapes "MEOW"
- Any remaining time: Recap of the Leg Ball Turn (LBT)

A step by step breakdown of the process

---- PART 1: Lip Sync, Visemes/Phonemes

1. Pick your line - 3-6 second long. The maximum limit is a hard limit so
nothing over 144 frames, please. You can trim a piece from a larger line

Some suggested criteria for selecting your audio:

  • Clear delivery: You can hear every word and levels are consistent. Avoid extremely fast talking or mumbling
  • Clean audio: No static, hiss or pops. No background music. Avoid ambient or environment sound: such things are easy to add, but hard to remove. 
    • HR appropriate: No "isms"; sexism, racism. No profanity. No "offensive" subject matter or context. Remember that "appropriate" is a matter of taste, so be sure to know your audience.
    • Good Contrast: Change of tone, tempo, volume or emotion. 2 or 3 notes are better than one.
      • Is the line of interest for you? You've got to animate it, so pick something fun that you really want to try.
      • Audience engagement: Find something that will evoke an favorable emotional response or connection. You want your piece to be memorable (for good reasons)

        2. Audit the rig and the tools. Get yourself a suitable rig. You can work with the one provided or try something else. Whatever you pick make sure it is something with robust facial controls.

        Some good rig alternatives
        The Ray Rig from CGTarian
        Bonnie 2.0 or Kayla by Josh Sobel,
        Malcolm 2.0 from AnimSchool (you'll need the picker tool for this one.)
        Mery by José Manuel García Alvarez and Antonio Méndez Lora
        Morpheus 2.0, by Josh Burton

        Read the EULA carefully and audit the rig thoroughly before you commit.

        Set your camera at a mid close shot (waist up). Create your Maya shelves, scripts and icons based on the demo below.

        3. Watch the tutorials below on rough lip sync and polishing lip sync. Give it a try yourself. I'd like to see a rough pass for next class on just the Visemes. (We'll get into posing in the next class)

        You'll need to make your 'primary' viseme shapes first. They are:
        • ZERO (neutral/center)
        • B/M/P (up/north)
        • AH (down/south)
        • EE (back/east)
        • OO (out/west)
        Make sure to make the viseme shapes are:
        • NEUTRAL. Emotionally speaking: no smile or frown
        • SYMMETRICAL. Centered and perfectly mirrored across the center line
        • BROAD. Exaggerate: Go bigger than you think you'll ever need
        • CONSISTENT. Use the same controls for every pose.
        Test the shapes to see how they blend together, interpolate from one to the next. You will use these 'primary' shapes to make all the rest of your visemes so spend extra time to get them looking right. 

        Rough Lip Sync Demo from David Latour on Vimeo.

        Polishing Lip Sync Demo from David Latour on Vimeo.

        ---- PART 2: Posing/Pantomime

        We've turned this whole process upside down starting with the lip sync animation, but what the heck - it's all good fun. now we go back to the beginning and start the shot the way you would with any other assignment. PLANNING!

        You have a few choices here:

        Storyboard and thumbnail: Small simple drawing so show the intended pantomime acting for your characters performance. Think about showing keys and breakdowns and make sure you have enough drawings to fully describe the action - 2-3 sec is reasonable.

        Find some video online: See if you can find some video that might match the physical movement you want for your character's acting within the short scene.

        Shoot some reference: Grab  a video camera, get up and act it out yourself -- this is the best method. do several takes until you get the performance you like. Play the audio over and over and act along with it. You may find two or three clips that combine to make the perfect performance: edit them together into a final reference clip.

        Whatever you decide, make sure you carefully analyze your reference with particular focus on timing where are your key poses and where are they going to occur on the timeline. You can use Photoshop  to mark your keys and breakdowns.

        Whatever you decide your preferred workflow is remember that reference and analysis is required to pass this assignment. Don't "wing it"

        (*) Some sub-principles of posing include:

        Line of Action - the internal forces within a pose, especially through the core of the body
        Silhouette - the 'readability' of the pose outline, including elements framed within the outline.
        Balance - how the mass of the body is supported also considering inertia and external forces.
        Structure - avoid 'breaking the bones' of your character, staying within reasonable limits.
        Asymmetry - variation between features on opposite sides of the body (arms, legs, brows etc.)
        Flow Lines - external contours that guide your audience's eye to important information.
        Rhythm - contrast between straight and curving lines in the pose to add visual appeal.

        Once you've got your reference done and analyzed, dive into Maya and start laying in your keys and breakdowns. To help you, check out all the video tutorials by Keith Lango on making good key poses here:

        Here are some handy pages about posing as well. There is lots of info out there:  research this!

        Have your keys and breakdowns, timed out for next class

        ---- PART 3: Polishing

        Polish your animation using the following workflow and strategies.

        Polish each item in order, using the strategies listed for best results

        A great finished example of a longer format lip sync with 2 characters: