Back in late 2006 we gave an Editors' Choice gong to, a facial animation program that had us laughing at the sight of our grimacing cartoon faces.
Reallusion has recently released the fifth generation of its Crazy Talk series. The basic animation process stays the same: import an image of anything with a face — human, animal, cyborg — fit a virtual wireframe around its contours, and give your peppy puppet something to say. Then sit back and prepare to be unnerved as the mutant creation springs to life.
There are some significant changes, however, beginning with the different versions on offer. The "Messenger" option has been ditched in favour of a product simply called Crazy Talk, which retails for AU$85.95. Also in the mix is the AU$235.95 Crazy Talk Pro. This version offers a heap more fine-tuning options for those who want absolute precision when animating their kelpie.
We focused on the Pro flavour for this review, but for more info on the differences between the two you can check out the feature comparison table here.
There are two big additions in the latest Crazy Talk: real-time puppeteering — which allows you to zero in on individual muscles of the face and manipulate them by moving the mouse — and nine facial profile styles that cater to non-human countenances. Also fresh in version five is the ability to export your creations as an FLV file optimised for YouTube, or in high-def at 720p and 1080p.
Thankfully, there has also been some feature culling. The naff greeting card templates that appeared in Messenger 4.5 have been ditched. A wise move in our minds, for they were cheesier than cheddar.
When loading Crazy Talk Pro for the first time, you'll be offered a bunch of video tutorials designed to help you learn the program fast. This helpful touch is one example of the impressive knowledge base offered by Reallusion. In addition to the text and video training resources on its own Web site, the company has a YouTube channel with over a hundred clips showing you how to achieve more complex effects. This level of user support is impressive, and will be a comfort to new users who feel a little overwhelmed.