12 Weeks With Cartoon Animator 5 - Week 6

Mar 31, 2023 at 10:00 am by gToon

This is the sixth of a series of articles over 12 weeks that will cover my research and learning about the 2D animation program Cartoon Animator 5 created by Reallusion. I will share my learning journey including any problems or issues that occur. My end goal is to help you understand what you can do with Cartoon Animator 5 and perhaps try it out yourself. You can read the first week's article here

Last week, I covered a content download issue with CTA 5 and how Reallusion's help team solved the problem with a workaround. Quick update: I've discovered that my old wireless router is having some issues occasionally and needs to be replaced Although I concluded in last week's article that there was a bug in CTA 5 for Windows 11, I don't believe that is true. It's a bug in my own router here at home.  

Motion Live Link

We are at the midpoint in this 12 Week series. I'll be covering some of the live motion capture features of CTA 5 and converting 3D motion into 2D motion. There are so many great tutorials on this topic, so I won't go into detail. I do want to share my own experience with the live link process and the 3D to 2D conversion. 
Starting next week, I'll be moving into my own project created using CTA 5. I've decided to move away from Vector character creation and, instead, try out a Monty Python-style animation scene (short). I'm doing this mostly because there are so many tutorials at Reallusion and on YouTube that covers the vector character creation process, but literally nothing on creating a stop-motion-style animation. 
motion live link set up inside of CTA 5

Motion Live is a plug-in (available xxxs) or CTA 5 that allows you to use a webcam or an iPhone from Apple to capture facial an/or body animation in real-time. It is easy to set up and the results are excellent. I'll briefly take you through the process of setting it up. You will need a webcam or iPhone (10 and up) to make this work. 
Easy Capture Process
You can purchase the live link plug-in either through the Reallusion website or through the Reallusion Hub. Once you have it loaded, you'll see a drop-down menu under the plugin tab at the top of CTA 5. You will also have a Face3D application which you will use as part of the live motion capture. 
Now load in a dummy character using the full front-facing position. Click on it to make it active. Now, looking at the above photo: on the right, you will see the live link software that popped up from the plug-in drop-down we just mentioned. You can choose a profile (full front, partial side and side) and also choose the strength of the capture. Click the red button next to the Face3D gear list. It should turn green indicating the hardware has connected to CTA 5's live link. 
At this point, you can either click the space bar to preview your capture or hit record to capture a facial animation session. Once you finish, name the animation and save it. This animation will be available to apply to any CTA 5 character. 
Pretty Cool, huh? The Reallusion tutorials section has several great tutorials on how to live capture that offer more detail. You can also learn how to live lip-sync with your 2D character as well. Check them out at this link
CTA 5's 3D to 2D set up
3D Animation to 2D Character
Closing out this sixth article of 12 Weeks with Cartoon Animator 5, I'll show you one of the very best features of the program - the ability to use 3D animation on a 2D character. 
Start by choosing the 2D 360 actor dummy from the content menu. Once you have it on the main stage, click it to make sure it's active, then go to the animations content folder and choose a 3D animation. Click to apply or drop and drag it onto your character. Once this is done, you'll see the import 3D motion box show up (see above screen capture). 
The 3D Motion box has several sliders and checkboxes to allow you to fine-tune the animation of your 2D character. For example, you can adjust the animation projection slider to fit the animation to your character so that it looks more realistic. 
I found that getting the hand positions right for 3D animation was the hardest part of the process. Fortunately, there is a separate tab for the hands in the 3D Motion box so you can adjust the hand position to get your hand animation just right. 
Again, there are many excellent tutorials on the Reallusion Learning page that will give you more detailed instructions. Check the link here.
One thing I didn't mention is that there is a live link connection between CTA 5 and iClone 8 which lets you adjust an animation in iClone while live viewing your 2D character in CTA 5. It's really good. Link to tutorial on this process here. 

Next Week: Getting Started on our Monty-Python Animation Project


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