Facial Animation Part 2: The Puppeteering Panel in iClone 4.0

Become a real-time PuppetMaster!

Become a real-time PuppetMaster!

I hope everyone is enjoying the new version upgrade to iClone 4.0. This tip is a continuation of the Facial Animation series, today’s tip focuses on The Puppeteering Panel in iClone 4.0. This is something that CrazyTalk 6.0 users will be fimiliar with from the word “Go” but if you are new to the wonders of The Puppeteering Panel then allow me to explain how this super powerful tool is going to revolutionize the way you both create and fine-tune your Facial Animation in iClone. First, what is The Puppeteering Panel anyway? It’s a tool that allows users to select and manipulate Solo-Feature areas, for the purpose of detailing Facial Animation or creating Expression and Emotion for your character. Sounds pretty good right, well, it is and the best part is the user has the ability to create multiple “Passes” by recording Solo-Feature areas individually, then recording additional areas to layer each over the last. Imagine your first “Pass” only focusing on the Eyes, then your second “Pass” may only focus on the Eyebrows, but the second will contain the animation data you created on the first “Pass” also. This is the method of fine-tuning that you will become acustom to once you have mastered The Puppeteering Panel. Follow the steps below to Create a Basic Script (See Part 1) and then add Expression to the Actor in the scene using the tools found in The Puppeteering Panel. And don’t forget to check out the step-by-step free instuctional video tutorial at the botom of this post.

  • Add an Actor into the scene
  • Create a Basic Script by Importing a WAV file
  • Select the Animation Tab
  • Click the Facial Animation button
  • Click Open in the Modify Panel
  • Navigate to your WAV file
  • NOTE: This animation data will be automatically applied in the Viseme Track on the Timeline
  • Open the Timeline to view this date using HOTKEY: (F3)
  • Click the FACE tab to view the Viseme, Expression, and Facial Layer Tracks
  • To open The Puppeteering Panel click the Puppet button in the Modify Panel
  • Notice there are 8 Puppet Profile categories each containing 6 Full Face Controls
  • Notice the Solo Feature Puppet Profile as well
  • Select a Puppet Profile
  • Then click a Face Control by clicking the thumbnail or use the corresponding HOTKEYS
  • To Preview click the Preview button and then strike Spacebar to Start and to Stop the Preview
  • After striking Spacebar to Start the Preview, click and drag your mouse to begin Puppeteering with the chosen Full Face Control
  • Strike Spacebar to Stop
  • NOTE: The same Full Face Control for one Puppet Profile will differ from the same Full Face Control for another Puppet Profile, for example, The Man ANGRY combination will not give you the same result as the Woman ANGRY combination.
  • Select the Solo Feature Puppet Profile
  • Notice that the Full Face Controls will now effect Blinking, Eye Movement, Head Orientation, Head Tilting, Jaw Movement and Muscle Movement
  • Click Head Tilting or use HOTKEY: (R) to edit the HEAD movement itself
  • NOTE: In previous versions of iClone you would have needed to use a Dummy object to achieve this level of HEAD movement, now with The Puppeteering Panel you no longer have that worry
  • Make multiple “Passes” of your Facial Animation by recording movement using The Puppeteering Panel
  • To record, select the Puppet Profile and Full Face Control you wish to use and then click Record
  • Strike Spacebar to Start the Recording
  • Click and Drag your mouse to begin Puppeteering with the chosen Full Face Control
  • Strike Spacebar again to Stop the Recording, this creates a single “Pass”
  • Repeat this process and choose different Puppet Profiles and Full Face Controls to focus on areas individually until you are pleased with the over-all look of your Facial Animation
  • Notice that when you are finished recording with The Puppeteering Panel your new Expression data will be visible on the Expression Track in the Timeline

The Puppeteering Panel can produce amazing results in only a few “Passes” to any Facial Animation clip, no matter how long or short, stylized or straight forward. It benefits everyone from iClone film-makers who have a lot of Facial animation to work through in their movies to the businesses out there using iClone as a part of what they offer to possible clients, bringing out the realistic qualities we all are used to seeing in everyday life the in faces of the people we meet and converse with. But wait, there’s more, no really, believe it or not The Puppeteering Panel and the endless Expression options that are available to you can be further enhanced by The Face Key Tool and Face Bones. These new tools are also covered in the upcoming Facial Animation Part 3: Face Key creation where you now can actually change and keyframe the shape of a characters Head and Face. That’s right, and The Face Key Tool and Face Bones make it all possible. Put these three tutorials together and you too will have a firm grasp on Facial Animation creation in the new iClone. But before you do that be sure to get a good look at the video below to help get you on your way to becoming a real-time PuppetMaster. Enjoy! 


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