How to Use Pre-Recorded Videos to Animate Your Puppets

Did you know you can control your puppets face not only with your own live behavior but also with pre-recorded videos? Follow this simple 6 step process and your puppets will be animated using video recordings.

Did you know you can control your puppet’s face not only with your live behavior but also with pre-recorded videos? Well, I just recently found about it and I am extremely excited about it. It opens up a door for so many new ideas and possibilities.

use prerecorded videos for puppet in ch

The Main Idea

Using pre-recorded videos for facial performance in Adobe Character Animator is a relatively simple process, but has to be done externally in Adobe After Effects. You will need to analyze facial behavior in your video by following a few simple steps and then copying it to your puppet. 

This process will require you to use both Adobe After Effects and Adobe Character Animator. However, no prior knowledge in Adobe After Effects is required. We will walk you through all the required steps.

What Will You Need?

after effects and character animator

Adobe After Effects and Character Animator

You will need After Effects * to track and copy facial performance from the video. If you don't have it installed, you can download it from the Adobe Creative Cloud Pack * which Adobe Character Animator is also a part of.

Adobe puppets for you

A Puppet

If you don't have your puppet, you can download a puppet from the Puppets section on our website.

Follow the next 6 simple steps and your character will follow the facial behavior of the actor in your video.

Step 1: Find/Make Your Video

To apply video performance to your puppet’s faces you will first need to have a video. You can record yourself, record an actor, or download a video from one of the video stock websites.

Video Stock Websites:

pexels logo

Pexels

Free videos for personal and commercial use.

videvo logo

Videvo *

Free and premium videos.

pond5 logo

Pond5 *

Large collection of easily searchable royalty free videos.

To have good results with copying facial performance from a video to a puppet it is best to work with a face closeup video in high resolution. Also, you will get better results if, in the first frame of your video, the face is facing straight forward and has a neutral expression.

Step 2: Open AE and Import Your Video

Step 3: Create a Mask Around the Face in the Video Layer

You can also use an ellipse tool to draw a mask around a face.

Step 4: Use Face Tracker

rest pose for face tracker in ae
copy face track info

Step 5: In Ch Create a New Scene that Matches the Frame Rate of Your After Effects Scene

match the framerates of ae and ch scenes

Step 6: Paste the Tracking Data Onto Your Puppet

paste tracking data onto your puppets

Congratulations!

Your puppet is now following the facial behavior from your video.

You might want to adjust different parameters like head tit strength, head scale strength, head turner, etc. to better match the behavior in the video.

Now What?

Now when your puppet’s facial behavior is controlled by the pre-recorded video you might want  to use a pre-recorded audio for the lip sync. Follow these simple steps and make your puppet talk using a voice over.

  • Heidi says:

    I’ve tried to do this now about 5 times. If you lose your place in the directions there is no way back, you have to start again from the very beginning. Whenever I copy the face measurements and then try to paste them it doesn’t work, then when I get back to Ae, that option is gone and there is no way to get it back except to begin again from scratch. If you could just explain how to get the Tracker panel to give that option again it would really make a big difference in terms of whether it’s possible to follow the tutorial or not. I am grateful this is here but I guess I have to keep seeking for more help because I can never make it from beginning to end.

    • Katia says:

      Heidi Hi,

      Sorry to hear you are having issues following the tutorial.
      This might seem like a complex process but actually, after you do it several times it will become very easy.

      Once you finish tracking the facial data and set the “Rest Pose” you need to click the “Extract and Copy Facial Data” Button. It has to be done right away and pasted to your puppet in Character Animator Just after that.

      You say you are not able to paste this data. I am not sure why can that be… Is the puppet in your scene selected when you paste the data? It has to be selected.

      You can paste the data to as many puppets as you want. You just need to copy and paste the data from After Effects to Character Animator once. Then to use the data once again, whenever you want just copy the animation tracks from one puppet to another ( It is done just by selecting the tracks and the regular copy –>paste options).

      Hope it helps…

  • What the * means above
     

    Please note, that the links that have * next to them are affiliate links and those help support AnimationGuides.com website. If you decide to purchase something through those links, we will get a small commission that will help us to continue and provide new free content on this website.

    For you, going through those links is the same as clicking on a direct link. You will never pay more for products as a result of clicking on our links. If anything, that can actually help you get a better price since we can sometimes negotiate better deals for our readers.

    The content on our website is not affected by the affiliate products and always reflects our honest opinion. All the reviews you will find on AnimationGuides.com are unbiased reviews. If a product we recommend does not have a supporting affiliate program, we will still link to it, just with a standard link without the *.

    >
    4 Shares
    Share2
    Pin1
    Tweet1
    Share
    Share
    %d bloggers like this: