CrazyTalk 7 from Reallusion is an innovative animation/facial expression/lip syncing program. To learn more about CrazyTalk 7, I interviewed John Martin, VP Product Marketing, Reallusion after Reallusion guys on Siggraph floor should me a demo of Crazy Talk, and called John for me.
I have to admit that Crazy Talk was the best of Siggraph 2012 for filmmakers.
Bijan Tehrani: Reallusion has been part of the animation world for a long time. A lot of the major companies who provide animation tools have either been bought out by big guys or they have vanished. What is the key to Reallusion’s success?
John Martin: Life has changed a great deal since Reallusion started twelve years ago. Basically we now all walk around with a camera in our pocket of some sort. Such accessibility, along with the rise of software like CrazyTalk, which allows you to quickly and easily tranform any image into a 2D animation, has made digital photography more fun. In addition, the arrival of YouTube and the rise of self-publishing and generating audiences from your own home has been critical to our success.
BT: Does Reallusion offer a complete set of tools for an animator to create a whole project using them?
JM: Absolutely, the creation of 3D avatars in iClone and 2D avatars from CrazyTalk was the cornerstone of the products and something that you could control with your own voice and body to generate full-body characters and performances with an easy degree of use.
We have also expanded upon our own platform to virtually any 3D asset, creating a place inside iClone for anyone to be able to bring their content in and use the iClone as a true animation in general and a real time production tool that will allow them to see exactly what would be in the rendered video prior to that happening in the viewport.
As our products have evolved from digital photography to complex 3D animation, we have maintained ease-of-use while at the same time accommodating professional users. If you’re a creator in 3DS Max, Maya or Dash Studio, anywhere where you might be generating characters content, we have made it a simple process through our pipeline tools to bring that content into iClone and then utilize the robust animation tools that we have created for body and facial animation to quickly generate animated characters and interactive avatars for phones and also for interactive engines.
BT: Another ability that you see in the Reallusion products is that it is easy to use the products as a beginner, but it does have those tools for the more advanced professional animators as well?
JM: Yes, that is a mission that guides us through all of our development and that is to make sure that the threshold for the beginner and the threshold for the expert is easily accessible and rewarding for the beginner our tools are designed so that if you never fragmented a key in your life you have an entry way that gives you everything you need with video training, a really active community and forum.
There is an unlimited amount of video that continues to come from Reallusion to help users get started and understand the ways to begin with their animation all the way from 2-D avatar animation with CrazyTalk and just making a simple digital photo to come to life, like a photo of Abraham Lincoln, or on the other side of the spectrum with the same set of tools advanced experts in studios at ABC and movie studios such as Realm Pictures, who are able to utilize the same tool the beginners can use to really explore a deep level of understanding and animation with our products for a max, a mile or wherever.
For the beginner we provide a marketplace and also a base level of content so if you don’t know how to model a tree that’s fine, we have a whole library that you could use and if you don’t have your own characters, we have a whole library of characters that you could choose from and customize even with a digital photograph. We really put an emphasis on providing a tool that students can begin with as young as ten years old and can get started with the software and start learning the proper principles of animation, all the way up to the seasoned professional that just wants to know where is the tool box and I will take it from here. Our products are always designed in mind to really match the needs of both levels of users.
BT: How do you see the future of Reallusion products? Are you guys working on any new ideas or new products?
JM: We’re constantly working on new ideas and ways to innovate the technology catalog that we have put together over the last twelve years. The great thing about is that myself as well as the other folks that are really pushing the development at Reallusion, that’s really our inspiration to look at these tools and to see where we can project them into the future. A great crystal ball to look in is always to look at the hardware and the technology that is hosting products like our software so we look at things like our hardware and things like the fact that this year we saw a rise in the ultra-book, a rise in the portable processing and ultra-portable computing and power, with big battery power and great processing power from Intel, so we optimize for these few future processor releases and make sure that the products are continually are addressing the needs for the software and how much power is coming and where the processing power heading and how can we best harness those capabilities to give the greatest real-time experience in 3D.
The other side too of the hardware crystal ball is to look at what is going on with mobile computing and how powerful that is. Many people are doing a number of films that are shot entirely on the iPhone now and photography has been taken by storm, by smart phones and so we look at his technology and how we fit there.
One of the ways that CrazyTalk will be adapting will be by entering into the app world as well. The idea is that you will be able to have the creativity of bringing a 2D character to life whether it is a standing image or a photograph, or an illustration and do it directly on your iPad or your iPhone. This is something that is coming this year, so you will have this interactivity and have this avatar and the ways you can animate it, whether with the device in your pocket or the laptop or desktop that you have at home.
Mobile computing is something that is very important to us. We have a number of iPhone apps that are in the market place, now that CrazyTalk has debuted on the Mac, in November and was also spotlighted by Apple as an editor’s top pick product in the App store.
Technology-wise our 3D animation software iClone will make some leaps this year certainly on the pro-level side. Just recently in the end of 2012, we released the capability for you to very fluidly import any 3D model from other products and be able to use the power of our Real-time animation tools to bring those characters to life and developed a very tight pipeline directly to the Unity game engine. The goal is that professionals and independents alike that are building games can harness the power of iClone and real-time creation to be able to either author a character inside iClone or animate the character inside iClone or both and deal was to take that animation or those props and accent them and then export them through our hardliner to Unity. This portability gives them a great way to generate their own interactive simulations or games. iClone and Reallusion are putting a real effort so game developers and independents alike can have a real tool to be able to speed up and maybe give them an animator in the pocket where there might be a couple of builder working on a game.
We would love to be able to branch out even further with the product in the future, certainly for game development and studio professionals and for those enthusiasts who have been using our products for a number of years. It is going to be an exciting 2013, for mobile development and mobile releases, for amateurs and pro-level designers alike.
For more information on CrazyTalk, iClone and other Reallusion products, visit: www.reallusion.com.