For my second stop-motion micro project, I will be creating a replacement animation lip sync test. A series of interchangeable Plasticine mouths will be created via a press mould, for a character to be animated to match a piece of audio dialogue.
I made the decision early on that the focus is on achieving well-timed, believable lip sync animation, and that as a result I will not be using a full body puppet. I view my SS1 project as an opportunity to learn, practice and develop technique. Once I have the necessary skills, then I stand in a better position to animate a full puppet with lip sync successfully later on.
I will time my animation accurately using a dope sheet. Importing the audio file(s) into Adobe After Effects will enable me to freely cycle through frame-by-frame, to determine exactly where each sound begins and ends.
Originally, as shown by my development work below, I had planned to create a character bust, and hoped to animate this to match some random dialogue tests, spoken and recorded by myself. The press mould for the replacement mouths would be created using the method I have learnt during my recent work experience.
The lip sync expressions I need have been observed from the following image, found online, which is an excellent guide to animating speech in an animation:
The issue with this approach was that it was a bit too broad, and lacking in direction. Following a suggestion from a friend, with which I wholly agree, I have changed my plans slightly and now intend to apply the above techniques to a sound clip from the '11 Second Club' website, as opposed to something recorded by myself.
The benefit here is making something far more creatively challenging, not to mention more meaningful, for the animation (though brief) will have context and background- whereby a story can be told visually with strong imagery. I now had the chance to design a character specifically to meet the particular tone and mood of the sound clip. Furthermore, the provided audio samples are self contained, ensuring a complete piece of work.
Due to time restraints, and my focus on lip sync, I will still not be creating a full body puppet. I imagine a 'Creature Comforts' style piece, where the character's face is the focal point, and background animation is minimal/nonexistent.
Naturally, I wanted a piece of audio that featured only one character, and was a manageable pace. After reviewing the website archive of previous 11 Second Club audio files, I honed in on the one I felt most comfortable with, and had the best idea for:
My idea is to play on the 'half measure' that is the basis of the audio, and show a young man with an empty half pint glass, sitting at a bar. It is the morning following his 21st birthday party, and it seems everyone had a great time except him. Matching the mood and tone of the audio, he is upset that he chose not to drink, and regrets having missed his one opportunity to have a typical 21st celebration.
Having the character sitting at a bar is a believable way of having a bust (i.e. head and shoulders) instead of a full body puppet. As the animation is set the morning after a party, the man has stubble, a slightly different shade to his skin tone- a logical reason for the seam line around his mouth, resulting from the interchangeable replacement mouth pieces.
I shall animate the character in front of a green screen, and in postproduction add a cartoon drawing (matching the style of my final designs above) for the background. I am now ready to begin the physical fabrication of this puppet, which I will document and post here as usual once complete!