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Tutorial 2: Advanced Configuration

Author: Anonymous

Tools Needed

  • Mimic 2 Pro for Lightwave
  • Lightwave

Introduction

In this tutorial we're going to look at creating custom configurations from scratch.

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Step 1 - Phonemes

To begin with, if you launch Mimic without loading a pre-made DMC file, the phoneme list will look like the following:

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There are actually 40 distinct phonemes in Mimic. The ones you don't see are subgrouped to the ones listed. For the purpose of this discussion, we'll call the fourteen you see in the list, 'Primary phonemes', and the grouped ones, 'Subgrouped'. You can view the subgrouped phonemes by clicking the '+' next to a master phoneme.

If you want to remove a subgrouped phoneme from a primary phoneme, simply double click the subgrouped phoneme. This will bring up the Definition pallet. Then, click the 'uncopy' button.

To group a primary phoneme to another primary phoneme, click on the 'Copy Of' button on the phoneme's Definition pallet. This will bring up a list of all the phonemes in Mimic. All the non-primary phonemes will be greyed out. Select the primary phoneme you want to group with from the list.

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You can continue this process to create your own custom phoneme list, with as many primary phonemes as you want. It can be as simple or complex as your character needs. For example, a realistic human character may need 14 or 15 primary phonemes, where as a simple cartoon character could possibly get away with 4 or 5.

Once you have finished creating your own custom configuration, you can save your own DMC files through the file menu.

Step 2 - Linking the Morphs

The next step is to link the morphs in your character to the primary phonemes in the phoneme list. Begin by double clicking on a phoneme. This will bring up the Definition pallet for that phoneme.

Next, click on the 'Add more to definition'' button. This will bring up the Channel Groups pallet. Double click on the appropriate channel, in this case 'ph' under Morphs, and another Channel Group pallet will come up showing all the morphs under that group. Next, drag the appropriate morph from the list to the 'Channel' box in the Definition pallet.

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Once a morph has been applied to a phoneme, you can adjust the strength of the morph. A value of 0 is equivalent to 0% (no effect), and 1 is equivalent to 100% of the morph strength. You can set the strength any number you want. Both negative numbers and numbers exceeding 1 can be applied, just like you can apply values below 0% and greater than 100% in Lightwave's morphmixer.

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Step 3 - Morph Mouth Shapes

Multiple morphs with varying strengths can be applied to a single phoneme. The morphs below represent more generic mouth shapes than those from the Getting Started tutorial, and can be mixed and matched to create the final phonemes we will use in Mimic. One of the benefits of this technique is that these morphs are easier and more straightforward to create, and give us greater control over facial animation from within mimic. It is much easier to adjust our phoneme definitions while in Mimic than to have to go back to modeler and edit original morphs if things don't look quite right.

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So the trick here is to blend these morphs together at various strengths to attain the right phoneme shapes.

Step 4 - Example 1

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The 'W' and 'R' phonemes should have similar shapes, but with the W sound, the teeth should be farther apart than with the R sound. So the W phoneme combines 'pucker' at .75 strength and 'open' at .2 strength, whereas the R sound combines the 'pucker' at 1 strength with 'closed' at .5 strength.

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Step 5 - Example 2

The next example is for the 'IY' phoneme. It starts with the basic open mouth shape set to a strength of .5, with a little smile added (.3 strength)

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With the 7 morphs from the previous page, you should be able to create all the shapes you need for whatever phonemes are required for your final lipsync. But keep in mind, you can mix and match techniques to work with your own particular needs. You could create morphs specifically for certain phonemes, and then create other more generic morphs to be used for for several phonemes.