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Mimic 2 The Gestures (Pro Only)

Author: CommonUser

Tools Needed

  • Mimic 2


With the advent of version 2, Mimic is no longer just a lip sync program. With the addition of gesture and expression tracks, Mimic 2 Pro is now a full featured facial-animation pose creation system. In this section we will discuss the Gestures Timeline and its uses.

Step 1 - The layout


OK lets take a look at the Gestures Track, on the left you see a list of basic gestures (step 1) involving some of the primary features of human expression. above it a window indicating a Key value for that gesture (step 2), or rather that gesture at a certain point in the timeline. And to the right the timeline is represented by a scale graph track (step 3). Simply put, for each of the gestures you will place points, refered to as Keys, along the timeline at different heights to control the strength of the selected morph. These points are called Keys because the spot in the timeline in which they are placed is called a Keyframe. Basically, a keyframe is one in which a control action occurs all other frames are considered between frames and are interpolated from the Keyframes they are between, thus the name between frames. If you put the Key above the Zero line you will have a positive morph if the point is placed below the Zero line you get a negative morph, at that point in the timeline, string them all together and you can create a transition of your gesture as smooth or abrupt as you want.

Step 2 - Adding a Key


Let's see how it works. Highlight the first gesture, “Eyebrow Raise Left” by clicking on it (step 4). This is not strictly necessary, as this gesture is already selected when you open the program, since it is first on the list. But its good to get in the habit. Next, you are going to click on a spot in the timeline. Make sure it is past the darkened area of the timeline. This section can be considered as a leader of sorts and is not part of the animation (you can see this by the fact that there are no frame numbers above it in the timeline) (step 5). If you put a KeyFrame within this section you will not be able to manipulate it, and it will not affect your animation, except to be an anchor point for your Gesture Track. But you are better off placing your first Key at frame 1.

Step 3 - Deleting a Gesture Track


By the way, if you activated any of the gestures in the session manager (check boxes at the bottom of the manager) Mimic 2 will have already created KeyFrames for these features. Removal of those KeyFrames is fairly simple. Just right-click (or Command-click for the MAC) anywhere on the Gestures Track. Then, click on “Select All” (step 6) and hit “Delete”. You will now have a clear Track.

Step 4 - Adjusting strength using Key Value


Ok, so we put our first Key at frame 1 on the zero line (step 7). You didn't get it exactly on the line? Well, here is where the key value comes into play. You will see in that window a number, either positive or negative depending on whether you placed the Key above or below the line. Go ahead and select the key value and type in a value of “0” and then enter (step 8). Now your first point is directly at zero. The key value is an indicator of the height of the selected point on the Track. And you can use that to make a precise positioning of any selected Key.

Step 5 - Adding Keys


Now scroll the timeline over to the left until the first frame is at the left edge of your timeline. This will give you some space to work. You will also notice that the number scale remains visible in the Track (step 9).

Now we are going to make another Key in the timeline. I will place it at frame 15 for our demonstration and at the “1” line (located at the top of my gestures timeline). If you do this, you will notice immediately that the 1 line has dropped down to the midpoint between zero and the top of the timeline (step 10). What happened here is that the timeline vertical scale adapts to the height of your graph and will always zoom out vertically in order for all the Keyframes both above and below the zero line to be visible.

Step 6 - Manually adjusting Keyframes


Now that you have your second Keyframe, lets adjust its level. There are two ways to do this. The first is by setting its key value. You can do this by typing a number into the key value box or by adjusting the Key manually. You can adjust it manually by clicking and dragging the point to the level you want the morph at (step 11). If the red frame indicator line is near the Key that you are manipulating, you will be able to directly see the strength of your setting in the display window. But don't place your Key directly in the frame indicator line (step 12), as this will make it difficult to select the Key for manual manipulation. If your Key is not in the proper frame you can drag it forward and backward in the timeline.

Step 7 - Changing Between Keyframe Characteristics


Ok lets go ahead and create some more Keyframes in the timeline. As you can see the lines curve gracefully from point to point. And if you are observant you will notice the sideways u in the small box that represents the Key(step 13). Well if you went through the Phonemes tute you will remember that these boxes were used there as well. And just like with the phonemes you can change this icon by right clicking (command+click in Mac) these different icons indicate the Interpolation Method of the line that controls the between Key strength. Simply put, Interpolation is a system of calculating the strength of each area between each keyframe, represented by a line (or Spline) , so each of the wave forms is an Interpolation Method. Here it's a little clearer to see what effect it has changing the morph strength setting. For review you have a selection of four options: Flat, Linear, Smooth, and Extra Smooth. Flat will give abrupt transitions between Keyframes. if you change it to this setting you will get straight Horizontal lines which jump to the selected Key from the previous Key (step 14), linear will give sharp diagonal transition. On the graph this is represented by strait lines directly connecting Keys from the previous Key to the selected one (step 15), and the smooth and extra smooth will do varying degrees of gradual curves between them on the graph this is represented by a smooth curve going from the previous Key to the selected one (step 16). Changing these settings always effects only the transition between the selected Key and the one which came before it. At this point you might want to “select all” and click between the options to see how they affect the wave form along a whole Track.

Step 8 - Changing Tracks


So far we have dealt with just one of the gestures. You can go on to set the levels across your whole animation based on your phoneme and text tracks. When you are done with the left eyebrow you can go on to the right eyebrow by simply clicking to highlight it in the left window (step 17). What happens here is that the timeline window changes to show the specific track for each gesture, though you may not notice the change unless your gestures start very early in the timeline. This is done to save space on the timeline. Each facial gesture's track is only shown when while it is selected.

You can go on to create animation tracks for each of the named gestures, the eyebrows, eye blinks, head movement in any direction, and eye movement. These gestures are available for both the right and left side. So, you have the opportunity for a lot of adjustments to these features.

Unless you are creating a new configuration file from scratch, you will probably not have any reason to change the definitions for your gestures. However, you can do so by double-clicking on the gesture title and changing it just as you did the phonemes. Because Mimic 2 was designed to automatically assign animation tracks for these specific gestures, the titles cannot be changed and no additional gestures can be added. The morphs they control however, can be changed.

To add morphs that are not either phonemes or gestures you will want to use the third option but for that you will need to read my next tutorial: “Mimic 2: The Expressions”.