If you’ve ever watched a video of a talking picture, there’s a good chance CrazyTalk Animator Pro was behind it. The software transforms photos or cartoons into fully fledged animations, complete with expressive faces and full body movement. And it’s not too difficult to learn, either.
Within two hours, we managed to learn enough to create this animated birthday card (happy birthday, Mum!). Once you’ve mastered the initial skills the software makes it ridiculously easy to create better animations. Recreating that video would take about five minutes, even on a sunny day with plenty of distractions.
If you’re feeling particularly lazy, there’s an automatic lip-syncing option for matching mouth animation to audio sources. We decided against it – for music, your character ends up moving their mouth to the beat. For normal conversation, however, it’s a time-saving God-send.
CrazyTalk Animator also goes in-depth for full scene animation. Imported and template bodies be fully puppetised, mapping a skeleton onto any body shape. These, like the face, can then be moved in any direction – even towards the camera.
The software manages this by working in three dimensions – there’s a Z-depth for letting your characters move in-front or behind objects, as well as moving forwards (enlarging the image) and backwards (shrinking it).
You can also build-up sets by dragging and dropping images from pretty much any source: we recommend heading to Ikea for your furniture needs. Any imported picture (furniture, faces, bodies) can be cut-out using Animator’s rudimentary masking tool, for deleting backgrounds and adjusting images.
It works well enough, it’s even got a fill section for quick cut-outs of entire backgrounds – but Photoshop this ain’t. We noticed that sometimes you’re left with jaggy outlines from detailed cut-out jobs, so it’s best to use a photo taken against a light background. The same problem plagues face and body cut-outs – it’s best to photo on a white background.
Despite being a powerful and easy-to-use tool, there are plenty of annoyances that hurt the user experience. There’s no way to edit an imported face or body once you’ve created it, for instance, which means minor tweaks mean reworking the whole import. The timeline – a staple for editing software – is also a bit of a confusion, and there are plenty of unexplained options that take a bit of trial and error.
Luckily, CrazyTalk have an extremely comprehensive YouTube library, with tutorial videos for anything you could possibly want to do. If you have a little time, this is a great piece of software for beginner’s animation.