Sunday, 12 July 2009

Crazy Talk 6

Every now and again, it’s good to know that there’s more to life than the serious business of running a company successfully. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to take a break and do something that’s fun. I’ve recently been playing with Version 6 of Crazy Talk from Reallusion, and it’s a great piece of software for having fun.

Very simply, what you do is take a picture of yourself, your dog, or even a famous painting (the list is really endless), and make it talk! The software moves the character’s head, blinks the eyes, and makes the mouth open and close as the image “talks”.

It’s also now possible to have two people (or pets or cartoon characters – you get the idea) in the picture and animate both of them so they appear to be having a conversation. And if you feel very adventurous you can animate up to four heads at any one time. And all the 2D images really do appear to be 3D.

The process is very straightforward. You select an image, and the software comes with some examples if you don’t have any pictures on your computer. You can crop and rotate the image to get what you want. You can also improve the colour levels etc at this stage.

Next it guesses where the eyes and mouth are (pretty accurately on a picture of a face), and you can move these numbered circles if you wish. Next you can tell it whether the face is looking to one side or forward, and the shape of the face – important with animals!

Then you pick out the eyes you want. You can have cartoon eyes, anime, animal, comic, or human. And human come with or without a variety of eye make-up. Once you apply the eyes, they look really strange, so the next stage is to make them fit the eyes in the original picture. It’s always a good idea to zoom in and get this right. You can also change other points around the head and hair, and the lips. And you can have more points to move if you need to – and I usually do).

Next you can choose your animation’s teeth. These include the whiter than white variety, through yellow, decayed, missing, to animal!

And finally you need the head movement. You choices are affirmative, angry, calm, dislike, etc, etc. And you can select a “head motion strength”. Clicking the preview button let’s you see the head move and the eyes blink. But there’s more.

Clicking on the script button gives you the option to add sound. You could type in a script and let one of the computer default voices say it. You could record yourself, or you could import an audio file – and, of course, it comes with some example files. Plus you have emotive faces you can add, and a puppeteering panel for fine control.

So, when you are happy that the Mona Lisa is now endorsing you or your company (or whatever) you can output the file. There are already tabs for the Web and YouTube and widgets, or you can output to a media file. There is the expected range of choices starting with AVI.

Because Crazy Talk 6 comes with so many templates, it’s easy to create something that’s fun, and it’s strangely rewarding to create something that is really very clever by spending a little more time and getting down to those nitty gritty details.

It’s a great way to relax and make your friends laugh at a simple creation, it’s also quite compelling – giving your boss exact fitting snake eyes, vampire teeth, and using the default laugh! There’s hours of fun with it. And there’s more than I’ve mentioned in this short review. You can find out more at

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