Adobe Character Animator, software that's been available in a preview version as part of Adobe Creative Cloud since last year. (If you download After Effects CC, you get Character Animator along with it.)
How Homer Simpson Appeared Live via Adobe Character Animator
In a TV First, The Simpsons Had an Animated Character Taking Phone Calls from Viewers
StudioDaily.com by Bryant Frazer
Taking the live-TV trend to counter-intuitive lengths, The Simpsons made history last night by having an animated character — Homer Simpson, no less! — conduct a live Q&A at the end of a prime-time broadcast. For about three minutes at the end of this Sunday's episode, Homer appeared in the Fox Studios Secret Bunker to take calls from the viewing audience. Remarkably, he looked just like Homer Simpson, even though voice actor Dan Castellenata was performing him live. How'd they do it? The animators used Adobe Character Animator, software that's been available in a preview version as part of Adobe Creative Cloud since last year. (If you download After Effects CC, you get Character Animator along with it.) We asked Adobe's Bill Roberts, senior director of video product management, for some details.
StudioDaily: What was the genesis of this? Did The Simpsons find Character Animator on their own and think they could make it work, or did you approach them about using it for something along those lines?
Bill Roberts: The nice thing was that it was them who came to us. It would be pretty bold of us to go out to as The Simpsons to be one of our first flagship customers. But when they saw what Character Animator could do, they started poking around and talking to the team. They liked that it wasn't something that could just drive the mouth poses. They wanted to create a bunch of other triggers. Think of them as loops in traditional animation. They liked the level of control they could dial in to this to deliver the experience that they wanted. So our team has been working with them, helping them push it farther and farther. From the intitial contact to what they did last night, they ended up doing a lot more with the product than we initially anticipated.
What was involved in the live production? Was it just Dan Castellenata sitting at a computer and looking into a camera, or was there more involved in getting the results to look exactly like The Simpsons?
Their biggest thing, once they realized they could do it at all, was seeing how close they could get to the animation style of the regular program...[continue reading]