Thursday 4 August 2011

Lip Sync for Stop Motion, Old-School

In my last video tutorial I detailed how to create a reference video for lip sync using Maya. But not all stop motion animators have Maya. So let’s try this old-school and prepare a bit of dialogue using a good old fashioned exposure sheet.

You still have to go high-tech, however, and open the audio file in something that will show the wave form. This can be the animation app, or one for editing audio, or video editing software. For this demo, I read the track in Final Cut Pro by setting the timeline to twenty four-frames per second and dropping in a sound clip of someone saying “the eleven second club.” The task is then to break down the sounds to the frame. This is done by scrubbing through the sound and finding bits you can identify.

Then transcribe this to an exposure sheet:

4:03 thee The
4:04 e eleven
4:05 ee
4:06 eel
4:07 l
4:08 le
4:09 e
4:10 v
4:11 vi
4:12 n
4:13 ns second
4:14 s
4:15 s
4:16 se
4:17 e
4:18 k
4:19 ki
4:20 i
4:21 n
4:22 nk club
4:23 kl
5:01 l
5:02 u
5:03 U
5:04 u
5:06 b
5:07 h

This can be all you need to animate the mouth of a clay character, as you would sculpt the mouth frame by frame to match the noted sound. If you are animating in two’s you need to consider the two sounds being made within those two frames and shape the mouth accordingly. You can further prepare by sketching the mouth shapes ahead of time. The principles explored in the lip sync tutorial apply, but here are the main points:

Make sure the mouth is shut on m’s, and before b’s and p’s.

The mouth should be the widest on the hardest-hit vowels. Show contrast with the softer sounds.

Don’t over-enunciate. If the sound is slurred, or letters are skipped altogether, do the same in the animation.

Keep in simple.