Introducing Cheeky McChu

Over a year ago, the girls and I dabbled in some paper puppet stop motion animation to produce a fun music video of a children’s song called “Portside Pirates”. Whilst the girls were pretty thrilled with the results, they found the process just a little too tedious to attempt again. (Attention spans these days!).

So fast forward a little, and we have now discovered the amazing capabilities of Adobe Character Animator, a great bit of software that allows you to puppeteer 2D puppets in real time, using facial recognition, lip syncing and keyboard / mouse triggers.

Miss Chu controlling her character’s expressions using face-tracking

It’s instant-gratification puppeteering! I guess this stuff has been around for a while in the movie industry, but it’s only recently been creeping into the mass market, and Character Animator is still in beta release. (If you’ve ever played with the (highly amusing!) Sock Puppets app – well, this is like a super-sophisticated version!)

This process is called motion-capture puppetry or digital puppetry, and has been used to bring cartoon celebrities to life on live TV (for example, Cartoon Donald Trump on The Late Show.) Miss Chu is just beginning to grasp the potential of it after watching a few YouTube tutorials and was pretty excited to try it out! So… while it’s admittedly a little rough around the edges…here is our first effort!

PS. For anyone interested to try it, Okay Samurai has great tutorials and some useful downloadable templates for beginners, like the set of mouth shapes which Miss Chu used for Cheeky.

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