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Mimic 2 Phonemes (Pro Only)

Author: CommonUser

Tools Needed

  • Mimic 2

Introduction

At the heart of Mimic 2 is the phoneme system, which basically associates a sound with mouth and other facial morphs. The morphs are set up to closely match how the mouth looks when making a specific sound. A phoneme can contain anywhere from one to a dozen morph targets. All of the Millennium Figures, as well as all Poser figures in Poser version 3 and higher come with some of these expression morphs. The primary purpose of Mimic 2 is to automatically match up a sound file to the corresponding phoneme set, thus freeing up animators from countless hours of tedious work. A new advancement in Mimic 2 is the ability to tweak these phonemes directly in the timeline, before converting it to a PZ2 for use in Poser.

Step 1 - Finding the Phonemes in your window

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In the main window there are two sections which have to do directly with phonemes. The first is the Phoneme Track (step 1) in the Timeline. This is the place where the phonemes do their work. The second is the Phonemes Palette in the Palette window (step 2). This palette is available in the Pro version of Mimic 2 only. You can drag and drop individual phonemes from the palette into the Phoneme track. While the phonemes themselves can't be changed, the morphs that are associated with them can. So, if you think you can come up with a morph set that closer matches your vision of a sound, you can program it into the individual phonemes and then save the set as a distributable Configuration file (YourFile.dmc) to use in other projects as well as for others to work with in both the pro and standard versions of Mimic 2.

Step 2 - the Definition Pop-Up window

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While we're at it, let's open one up and see how it ticks. I've opened the V3 project I was working on earlier, so these are the stock V3 phonemes. Go ahead and Double Click on one of the Phonemes in the Palette (step3). Here, this one will do -EH (Ed). What that means is that this is the Eh sound as pronounced in the word in “Ed” or “Elephant”. Double-click on it and a definition window will open. This one says copy of – IH (it) (step 4) which means it's so similar in facial movement that it was felt that there was no reason to create a new set so they just copied the IH sound. If you want to create a new custom phoneme you could uncopy it and assemble a new set of morphs.

Step 3 - Designing a Phoneme in Poser

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In fact what better way of learning this than doing so. Let's go back into Poser and open up the Victoria 3 Mimic figure. You did go through my basic “Quick Start” tutorial and make a V3 Mimic figure didn't you? No? Well, get with the program and do it! (go there to see what you need to do then come right back, I'll be waiting.)

Well, it's about time, I was ready to order out for pizza!

You're going to work on the face, and make a combination of morphs that closely imitates what it looks like when you say the “eh” sound, so its nice to have a mirror handy when you are creating your morphs.

OK, that looks about right. Now, write down the morphs you used and their dial settings, and lets go back into Mimic 2.

If you are very familiar with the morphs that you are going to use for your new Phoneme, or would prefer to not go back and forth between programs, you can skip this section and go right to Step 4. Mimic 2 Pro provides the ability to do all your configuration file setup within the Mimic 2 interface itself, to that end the definition window has been equipped with a Preview button. Clicking on “Preview” temporarily changes the figure in the Display window to show what the phoneme looks like.

Step 4 - Creating a new Phoneme Definition

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In your EH Definition go ahead and click on “Uncopy”, and clear the morphs you are not going to use. Than go to the “Window” drop-down at the top of the page (step 5), click on “Object Tree”, and you will see something similar your standard Poser hierarchy window (step 6). Double-click on “head:1”, you'll see a list of morphs (step 7), in fact they are all the morphs you injected with the expression morph pose, about a dozen lines back. Simply drag the morphs you wrote down from the head list into your definition window. What you didn't write them down? Well go get them! I don't have all day (He said drumming his foot with mock exasperation).

Once you have all the morphs in your Definition file you can set their Strength. Highlight each individual morph and set its Strength, using the dial settings you used in Poser (step 8). For my EH I used Mouth A at 1.4, Snarl at .16, and smile1 at .18. You can click on the “Preview” button to see how the Phoneme looks on your figure.

You may have noticed a color slider just below the strength field.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T SET THE COLOR SLIDER TO RED!!!

Just kidding, the color slider just changes the background color of the Phoneme in the Pallete, so you can easily spot the different Phoneme sets. You can use it however you want, to organize your Palette.

Step 5 - Saving a Custom Configuration file

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If you do extensive work on the configuration file, or want to save the changes you made for another session, you'll want to save your file. From the Mimic 2 toolbar, go into “File:Save Configuration File” (step 9). Be sure to save it under a new name (step 10).

At this point it might be helpful to explain that there are several ways you can save your project. What you just saved is a Configuration file with a .dmc extention. this saves your Phoneme, Gesture, and Expressions Libraries, but does not save anything els in your project. this file is designed to be reusable as a base for many projects. you can also save a Project file (.dms). this is what you save when you hit “File:Save” this contains all the information to reopen the specific project you are working on at the moment, including config, sound, CR2, and any changes you made in the timeline. the third method of saving, is the form that is readable by Poser, the multi-frame pz2. this is your output file from Mimic 2.

Step 6 - Deleting unwanted Phonemes

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All right, down to the heart of the matter now: adjusting the phonemes in the timeline. For this example, I'm going to go to the word “down” in my timeline. Here are a couple of things to remember:

1.) When making your adjustments, a space is interpreted as “between” cells and allows a transition between phonemes.

2.) The silence phoneme is the mouth in neutral closed shape.

You can adjust very precisely the motion of the morphs by your use of space and silence, as well as duration and strength of the phonemes. So with that all explained, I'm going into the word “down” in the timeline. I like the “D” and the “N” but the “AW” just does not give the round “O” effect that I want. So, the first thing I am going to do is replace the “AW” with a phoneme that looks more like the proper round “O” mouth shape. First, I delete the “AW” by highlighting it (step 11) and hitting “Delete” (step 12). Or, you can use “Delete” in the timeline pop-up, but I'll explain that later.

Step 7 - Adjusting Phoneme Strength in the Timeline

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Then I find a Phoneme I like better, I picked out the OY which gives me the round O look I want. Dropping it in is as simple as dragging it from the Phoneme Pallete to the spot on the Phoneme Track where you want to insert it (step 13). A quicker way to do this all in one step is to select the new Phoneme from the Pallete, than right click on the phoneme you want to change in the Phoneme Track, and select “ReplaceWith Pallete Selection” this will change the individual Phoneme but keep the duration and strength the same as the previous occupent of the space. After saying it a couple times in the mirror I decide I want it a little stronger, so I Alt-Click on the Phoneme in the Phoneme Track and drag the red bar upwards (step 14). You can also accomplish this by right clicking in windows, or control-clicking in Mac, to open up a window, which gives you several options, including “Edit Strength”, but while we're at it we should look at some of the other options in here, because they are quite useful.

Step 8 - The Timeline Pop-Up

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In addition to “Edit Strength” there is also “Split” (step 15) which does just that, it splits the phoneme in two. There are several other options, but the ones that are of immediate interest are those in the section at the bottom. Here, there are four options: Flat, Linear, Smooth, and Extra Smooth (step 16). These denote the type of transition that will be used from one phoneme to the next.

If you notice, in the upper left corner of each phoneme there is a small square with a design in it. This is the visual indicator of these four options. Flat will give abrupt transitions between phonemes (on a graph they would be represented by strait vertical and horizontal lines with square intersections). Linear will give sharp-sloped transition (on a graph this would be represented by straight lines directly connecting the phonemes from one level to the next. And the Smooth and Extra Smooth will do varying degrees of gradual-sloped transitions between them (on a graph this would be represented by smooth curves intersecting the phonemes).

When we get to the gestures you will see a more graphic example of these options in action.

Step 9 - Moving and Resizing the Phoneme in the Timeline

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OK, now where was I? Oh yes, the “OY” phoneme. I've adjusted the strength, now I'm going to move it over towards the “N” (step 17) because I want the transition between the “D” and the “OY” to be gradual but between the “OY” and the “N” I want it to be more abrupt. So, to drag it over I just click and drag in the middle of the “OY” phoneme so its up close to the “N”.

After testing my changes, I decide I want the “OY” to be a little longer, so I drag the left edge back towards the “D” a bit (step 18). You can stretch either end of your phoneme in this manner.