Adobe’s Character Animator is getting keyframes later this year, which will allow users to tweak movements and create more controlled animations. The new keyframe feature will let the characters move around the screen and give artists more control over what’s happening in the scene.
Character Animator may be one of the lesser-known Creative Cloud apps, but it’s still a powerful tool that lets users create puppet animations with real-time motion capture using a microphone and a webcam. The app is streamlined for making videos quickly, so until now, it hasn’t been equipped with features beyond making simple characters that talk and move in one place. Keyframes, which place markers on the timeline to signify the beginning of a transition, will bring the app’s features closer to those offered by other Adobe apps, like After Effects or Animate CC.
The video above shows some examples of the kinds of keyframe parameters that are available, like changing the scale, position, and rotation of the character. There’s an inline graph editor that lets you control the speed of movement and lets objects ease in or out of placement. You also create “replays” and “triggers” from keyframes, meaning that pre-animated sequences can be set off by a button.
Character Animator is especially useful for capturing facial expressions and syncing up animations to dialogue, which is why it’s used on TV shows with tight deadlines and quick turnaround times. For instance, The Simpsons used it for a live-animated segment where Homer took calls from viewers. The software lowers the barrier to entry in creating animated characters, making it simple enough to use for young students in schools and animation camps. By introducing keyframes to such simple software, Adobe has created a place where these students can learn about a feature that’s an essential part of most animation software. And that might mean they move on to Adobe’s more sophisticated software once they’ve mastered it.