Learn to Animate

Lip syncing

Lip syncing is the process of synchronizing audio with the animation so that the sound fits with the visual movement. When lipsyncing isn't just right, the effect is jarring on the audience.
Papagayo is a free program that greatly simplifies the process of lip syncing. Text is lined up with audio and then the program generates a text file that can be used in Animation programs.
Visit the Edit Audio page to learn about loading and making basic edits to the audio track.
One of the major approaches to creating mouth shapes to pair with spoken dialogue was created by Preston Blair, a noted animator that worked at a few animation studios including Disney over the course of his career. Papagayo and OpenToonz both utilize the Preston Blair mouth shapes. Preston Blair's page on Dialogue is missing
While the mouth shapes could be drawn in any order, it saves time to draw them in a precise order.
  1. Create a level with a single frame
  2. Draw the mouth shape for AI
  3. Add 9 more frames in the level strip (it is easier to sync if most of the mouth drawings are not exposed in the Xsheet)
    1. Right-click in the empty space at the bottom of the Level Strip
    2. Select "Add Frames"
    3. Set the new frames from 2 to 10 and select "Add"
  4. Draw the mouth shapes for the new frames
    1. Turn on onion skin to keep the mouths positioned properly
    2. Each mouth shape should be drawn on it's own frame in the following order:
The example image is missing
1. AI
The example image is missing
2. E
The example image is missing
3. O
The example image is missing
4. U
The example image is missing
5. FV
The example image is missing
6. L
The example image is missing
7. MBP
The example image is missing
8. WQ
The example image is missing
9. Etc. (C,D,G,K,N,R,S,TH,Y,Z)
The example image is missing
10. Rest (the default shape when not speaking)

Do not rely too much on examples of other artist/animator's mouths - look in the mirror (or use Photo Booth on the Mac) to see what your own mouth looks like as it makes each sound.

Before starting this process, make sure that only one frame for your mouth level is exposed in the Xsheet/Timeline.
  1. Load your audio column if it is not already exposed in the Xsheet/Timeline (right-click on the cell the audio should begin and select "Load Level")
  2. Select the mouth column (click on the column/layer header)
  3. In the program menu, go to Xsheet → Apply Lip Sync Data to Column
  4. Use the arrows underneath each icon to change drawings if necessary to correct any errors with the mouth shape pairings
  5. Select the lip sync data file (.dat) from Papagayo at the bottom of the lip-sync pop-up
  6. Select "Apply"
For optimal lip syncing, audio should be slightly delayed from the mouth movement.
  1. As necessary, adjust the position of the audio level or the mouth level so that the sound begins a frame or so after the mouth movement (using the top or left dragbar)
  2. Scrub and/or play the audio to make sure the timing is correct
  3. Make adjustments to timing/placement as necessary
  4. If any mouth shapes are incorrect:
    1. Select the cells for the incorrect drawing
    2. Use the hotkey "Q" to switch out the drawing for the correct drawing (moving backwards)
    3. Use the hotkey "W" to switch out the drawing for the correct drawing (moving forwards)
  5. Repeat as necessary

Create an animation with at least 2 lines of synced dialogue. The animation should include:

  1. An audio track:
    1. At least 2 lines of original, recorded dialogue
    2. Audio track edited & background noise filtered out in Audacity
  2. 1 or more characters
  3. At least the face of each character
  4. At minimum - the character's mouth should move in time with the audio
  5. Add movement to the character's jawline and eyes to add additional believability (optional)
  6. Color & background (optional)

If you have no dialogue planned as part of the scene you are animating, this can be a standalone animation.