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Am I in the right place?

Posted By AirBeagle1 4 Years Ago
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AirBeagle1
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Hi!  I'm a high school science teacher with a question about what the right product is for my needs, and am hoping to lean on the experience of this fine group of experts.  I create short educational videos for my students (and others) that I post on YouTube.  These videos currently include my profile in a corner of the video, while the students see the work I'm doing in the main section of the video (example here: .">https://youtu.be/LlD0zy9XGl4 Wink.  What I think would be really cool would be to replace my video image with an animated avatar that talks with my voice.  The big question -- I'm having a heck of a time figuring out exactly which product (or products) here would best suit my needs, or if I'm even in the right place.  I work on a Mac platform, and would love any advice you might be willing to share.

Thanks Much!

Lernakow
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You are in the right place.
You can create talking heads in CrazyTalk, export them as a video with transparent background (on Mac it's native) then put it on top of your presentation in whatever video editing program you currently use.
AirBeagle1
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Thank you very much Lernakow!

Would it be CrazyTalk 8 for Mac that I would need?  And I see that there are two versions -- might you have a recommendation?  (Trying to read through the differences, it's a little tough to interpret what those differences actually mean without much experience with the software).  
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CrazyTalk 8.
I use Pipeline version but for this project Pro version would be perfect. Standard is a bit too limited.

A tip for later: in export use Apple ProRes 4444 codec - this one allows for transparent background.

Now a word of advice - there are 2D and 3D characters in CrazyTalk.
2Ds are easier to make and you can have them wear whatever you want: clothes, hair etc. - just put it in the photo/graphic you use to create them. But it's harder to achieve a realistic head movement with them, it's easily exaggerated.
3Ds take a little more work (and preferably two pictures: front and side), then you have the head and the torso only. To give them clothes, hair (apart from short hair texture you can get from the photo), hats etc. you have only a bunch of starters and then you have to buy some content. You might buy that content in bundles with the software. Right now I would recommend two equally priced bundles: CrazyTalk 8 PRO Stylized Party Bundle or CrazyTalk 8 Pipeline RealisticHuman 100 Bundle (that's what I use). I don't like stylized characters from the PRO Bundle, but Party has some hair and clothes that can be easily made non-party. RealisticHuman 100 in Pipeline bundle is a huge collection of great human characters plus you get the DressUp - some decent clothes. Well, to be honest I would choose the Pipeline bundle again. Anyway - 3D characters are much easier to properly and realistically animate.
AirBeagle1
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Fantastic help, thank you!!!
Cricky
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AirBeagle1 (12/9/2016)
Hi!  I'm a high school science teacher with a question about what the right product is for my needs, and am hoping to lean on the experience of this fine group of experts.  I create short educational videos for my students (and others) that I post on YouTube.  These videos currently include my profile in a corner of the video, while the students see the work I'm doing in the main section of the video (example here: .">https://youtu.be/LlD0zy9XGl4 Wink.  What I think would be really cool would be to replace my video image with an animated avatar that talks with my voice.  The big question -- I'm having a heck of a time figuring out exactly which product (or products) here would best suit my needs, or if I'm even in the right place.  I work on a Mac platform, and would love any advice you might be willing to share.

Thanks Much!



Your link to YouTube embedded below will help people see what you are referring to.



Regarding what you want to do;

You can use CrazyTalk, but you can also use iClone to do what you want.  Create a Head that looks like you for iClone use, apply it to an existing Character/Avatar and apply scripted facial animation plus body motion if desired to allow you to point to specific items while talking, or even hold up prop "Cue Cards".  The Character Video can be exported using Alpha Channel options and overlaid in the corner of a video (using your sample as a demonstration of what you desire to achieve).  Using the upper body as well as the head will allow you to be more expressive in your presentation.  You may even want to consider using CrazyTalk Animator (CTA) for using the entire Body or just the upper; it all depends, of course, on the route you want to take.  

Using pre-recorded script would allow you to look (simulated) at anything in the scene behind you, including the audience, and not be obviously reading Cue Cards, which would be what I suspect your intent is. Do not use any background for iClone, and the Alpha Channel is much easier to achieve.  Using a contrasting color (Green Screening) as a background color makes the separation of the Avatar and background easier.  Even if you decide to not using Alpha renderings you can use the output as an overlay if your video editor has the option to extract using Alpha Masking, which I use frequently in post video editing.

You could also use a Chalkboard or Projection Screen to write on if you like.  I do have both in the Marketplace shown in my signature links and directly linked  by name.  If nothing else it could be used to spell out your name in scripted text as an introduction to the subject and yourself.

I do not use MAC versions of the software, but I understand that there are versions or workarounds for those that do.  





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AirBeagle1
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Thanks Cricky.  Mostly I'm interested in replacing my torso in the bottom right of the video with something animated (which also provides an opportunity to work around the many times in the videos when I'm looking down at the screen as I write).  The chalkboard idea is pretty cool, I think, but might be a bit more work on the animation side than I want to engage in at this point, vs. focusing on the educational content -- and iClone looks really cool, though I find I try to avoid Windows apps on my Mac, though I do use Windows apps on rare occasions when forced.  Neat ideas, though.

CTA3 also had me thinking about all the other things that I could do to improve these lessons -- objects and demonstrations I could add in (such as animating the angular momentum question a bit).  I have access to the Adobe CS at the moment, and though CTA3 looks like it might make some of the animations I'd want to try easier, I'm not sure the price and learning curve would be worth the additional added benefit.

Fantastic advice, though, and now these great responses have me thinking beyond just what could I do with CrazyTalk 8... gotta finish my current project and start playing around.  Thanks for all the input!
AirBeagle1
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So I'm up and running... have installed CT8 Pipeline with RealHuman100 and the Dress Show, as well as CTA3 for some future work.  Starting to get the hang of this as I go through the various tutorials, but I'm definitely stuck in one big area as I try to create a reasonable 3D model... the male hair.  I haven't been able to find reasonable male hair that isn't completely wacky, even with the RealHuman100, Dress Up - Showtime, and various bonus packs.  Does anyone have recommendations for a fairly standard business-ish type hairstyle to place on the character?  Looks like there are a number of female hair styles with longer hair that would be reasonable acceptable, but pretty slim pickings on the male side.

Looks like I have a ton to learn, but a fun new challenge!
Lernakow
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You can get short male hair as a texture not a 3D model.
When you create a head from the pictures one of the last steps is the texture selection - it varies from face only (with bald head) to full head (with whatever hair it originally has). With full head you get the original hair of the model. You can only get very short hair or hair that lay flat on the head (like combed back in a ponytail but without the tail). On male characters it looks rather good in my opinion.
I believe you can also change the texture into the hairy one in existing models (from 100 heads), but I'm not sure and I won't get to my CrazTalk computer before evening (CET) to verify.
AirBeagle1
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Thank you Lernakow... really appreciate your patience and time as you help out a newbie.  Make it a great day!



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