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How to use Mimic Pro for Carrara effectively Tutorials
Posted: 11 February 2014 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve spent a while now learning NLA, Mimic for Carrara (long time user of the stand alone version).

At the time of making the first video I was only 2 days into it. We are now 10 days into it and I need to stop here, explain what I’ve learned and hand over the (new?) technique for others to take further.

PART 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGifaQfWGjY
Using Mimic Pro for Carrara. Setting up for an easier life. Basic tweaks. Phonemes.

PART 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70Jx9yrRZKw
A Detailed editing session, just using MIMIC Pro.

PART 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpkTXREwTWk
NLA Sequencer Intro.

PART 4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY-MvEjyzFo
NLA Sequencer Editing blocks idea

PART 5 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVQkJFFl02Y
ADSR NLA blocks with Mimic Pro.

I’d love it if people want to take this further. I was thinking of offering the blocks as a $1.99 Car File on DAZ. You can set this up yourselves, but it’s very dull and takes a long time. See what you think when I’ve completed the series and let’s take it from there.

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Posted: 11 February 2014 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi, I have some experience using this software and can suggest the following:

Sometimes, despite your best efforts; these digital puppets WILL NOT BLINK.  Not sure if the model is corrupted, tried everything; not sure why but sometimes it just happens.

I used to get excited about doing alot of expressions but over time found that they sometimes warp the morph uncomfortably.  I find it best to do or start with an expression and then 0…mimic—-expression… otherwise gets odd.

As far as selling aniblocks there are some expressions in the aniblock package like blink and breathe.  They work ok or you can simply keyframe them on a blank model and save as NLA.

Good luck with your voyage !

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Posted: 11 February 2014 09:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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AnAlias - 11 February 2014 09:30 AM

start with an expression and then 0…mimic—-expression… otherwise gets odd.

Good luck with your voyage !

Thanks AnAlias. Yes starting from 0 or making sure a previous movement doesn’t (unintentionally) bleed into what you want to express now is very important!

 

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Posted: 11 February 2014 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Very good start, SciFiFunk. The CMU dictionary was a revelation to me. I was just looking for such a thing. Can’t wait for further installments.

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Posted: 11 February 2014 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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argus1000 - 11 February 2014 01:30 PM

Very good start, SciFiFunk. The CMU dictionary was a revelation to me. I was just looking for such a thing. Can’t wait for further installments.

Thanks Argus. I recorded part 2 tonight and I’ll upload tomorrow.

 

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Posted: 11 February 2014 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Fantastic Tutorial,
I have been trying similar techniques in DAZ studio and found a free online converter ( http://www.truespel.com/en/ )  that converts the text to simple phonetic notation for American English. I find it gives better results that straight text.

Your method seems much easier than what I have tried.  I used Mimic Pro Standalone and Genesis Figure for all my tests. The tricks I found were to alter the .DMC file to exaggerate the head and neck movements and to watch the lip sync and quickly remove any small phenomes that seem out of place. I import the Mimic output to DAZ Studio and then add aniblocks for body movement, extra blinks, expressions and brows.  I have had mixed results as it does require lots of hand editing and personal judgement.  You can see my experiments at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijbzHLozYk8&list=PLnSggzklmsJHDlHLZhw0_L7Dju-Yt-HcP

Mimic Pro for Carrara looks like the better method for a pure Carrara approach.

Thanks for the information.

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Posted: 11 February 2014 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yeah thanks Joe - you experience is invaluable.

btw - I cant reply to you on youtube for some reason. It’s not that I’m ignoring you!

This is similar to what I am going to cover, but if you see the series though you’ll see a number of techniques to improve things, at the cost of animating time/effort.

Tomorrow I talk about NLA animation, it’s taken me over a week to understand what Is going on, but now hopefully as I share my (new) knowledge I can join the NLA party and we can build on our experiences.

I can already see that if you become an expert in NLA, long term the animating time reduces with reuse (looping + reversing + speed changes). At some point I’d like to turn my DAZ animation data into Carrara NLA clips - then I can re-do episodes 1-4 in Carrara. Ep 1 and 2 are looking especially out of date now.

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Posted: 11 February 2014 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Very cool, as always, SciFi Funk!

Sci Fi Funk - 11 February 2014 02:41 PM

btw - I cant reply to you on youtube for some reason. It’s not that I’m ignoring you!

That happens to me sometimes too… Aggravating!

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Posted: 11 February 2014 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I am not sure why you couldn’t reply. 
NLA’s seem like they are the real power of Carrara.  Aniblocks seem to be the key to lip sync in DAZ studio, but NLA’s take the idea to the next level. 

Another thing I forgot to mention about my experience with lip sync is that eye movement is very important.  It makes the difference between movement and the appearance of thinking.  I have been pointing the eyes at a target and moving it in an aniblock and it add so much more life.  Hopefully this helps.

Check out Chris Jones eye experiment at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAZIvyAJfeM  Amaz.ing realism, and very inspiring.

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Posted: 11 February 2014 09:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Not trying to hijack the thread, but that A3 walk cycle animation I did a while ago uses an NLA clip for the walk cycle. Initially both arms were like the left arm. Kind of moving in a general, stiff way at the sides. I did this intentionally in case I wanted to layer clips specifically for arm movements. Interestingly, using a target helper and IK tracking over-road the NLA clip and allowed me to retain the shoulder roll from the clip and keep the hand on her hip.

http://youtu.be/nkWBRuJlQhA

And if you’re interested in the clip, it’s for A3. I tested on a V3, but due to scaling I think, it didn’t work correctly. You don’t even want to see what it did to poor Hiro! Also, this will not keep the hand on the hip. The arms will stiffly swing at the sides. It’s a walk in place clip, but I was able to use a motion path and get minimal feet slide.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7370483/Sexy-Walk-Clip.cbr

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Posted: 12 February 2014 01:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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joeping - 11 February 2014 07:24 PM

I am not sure why you couldn’t reply.

Not sure either. It seems once in a while, when I click ‘reply’ my browser tries to do something - I see it blink - but I never get to the reply box. It was frustrating because I really wanted to reply! LOL

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Posted: 12 February 2014 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Part 2.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70Jx9yrRZKw

This time I cover a typical editing session in Mimic pro IF you understand how it actually works AND you have a decent knowledge of what each viseme actually represents.

I demonstrate how and when to subsititute mimics default visemes vs your own choices.

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Posted: 12 February 2014 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Very good tutorial. I learned a lot. But I was wondering: have you tried to blend the phonemes together? Like my first pic shows, there is a feature that permits to blend phonemes. The second pic shows that you can choose how long you want to blend the phonemes, up to the point where they don’t interact whit each other at all.

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Posted: 12 February 2014 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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argus1000 - 12 February 2014 02:45 PM

Very good tutorial. I learned a lot. But I was wondering: have you tried to blend the phonemes together? Like my first pic shows, there is a feature that permits to blend phonemes. The second pic shows that you can choose how long you want to blend the phonemes, up to the point where they don’t interact whit each other at all.

No I haven’t !

That’s excellent info Argus. Many thanks! I somewhat takes the wind out of my sails with what I am about to suggest, but I still think my idea is more flexible, although this narrows the gap considerably.

Next part out tomorrow.

 

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Posted: 13 February 2014 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Part 3 is an intro to NLA as a prerequisite for Mimic with NLA which is the next video in the series.

NOTE. Bonus content how to set up a half decent lighting rig for test animations in just a few seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpkTXREwTWk

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Posted: 13 February 2014 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Fantastic Tutorial.  I love that you are working in NLA’s in Carrara as its much easier than what I have been trying.

You hit the same problems I was facing using Mimic Pro Standalone.  The differences between mimic output and the phoneme’s in the figures.  That is why I found that modifying the .DMC file is the key to cutting down on the hand editing of the output.  The trick seems to be matching up the output phoneme to the figures phoneme.  This became very apparent when I tried to create a .DMC for Millenium Sub-Dragon.  Since there are very few phonemes in Millenium Sub-Dragon figure.  I tried an example using this custom DMC on a long poem with no editing and it worked ok, not great. You can see my test at this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-zSRwFPvX4

This led me to start thinking like a puppeteer.  The Muppets are a great example of Lip Sync because they aren’t built with any of phonemes but they convey life and convincing lip sync.  There trick seems to be simply the timing of open and closed mouths and body movement.  I tried a quick version with DAZ Studios puppeteer and found that it is a quick way to get the feel of the audio lip sync.  The immediacy of this method is very cool but I find the performance nature very different from the normal way I work.  More practice is needed and there is something valuable to be learned along this path.

The placement of the phonemes is also very important. In Mimic Pro standalone I found that they need to be as close as possible to each other so that they don’t pop between phonemes.  But with NLA’s that may be different.

The placement of the silences also plays an important role as it is very noticeable.  Nothing more distracting than having the wrong mouth on a pause.  That’s why a editing pass on the silences is the quickest way to start the process.

Sorry to ramble, but its nice to talk to someone with the same problems.  Thanks again for the great tutorials.

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