Date: June 6, 2008
Author(s): William Kelley
Have you ever wanted to create a small animated clip for a special email or for your blog page? Do you believe it is over your head? Reallusion may have your answer, and we have your look at their product, Crazy Talk 5.0.
Computer generated animation. Say that in a crowd and almost everyone will say you either need extensive training or a massively expensive high powered PC to do it. I personally asked a few friends and all seemed to agree that the home user could not do it. They also all agreed that it would be far too expensive to both buy the software and to build a PC powerful enough to run it.
Reallusion believes otherwise. They have created a powerful set of tools that allow even the novice user to create animated puppets. You are not limited to just using computer generated pictured for your animation. You can also use your personal photos as well.
I am by no means a power user. When it comes to complicated programs with a large array of features, I tend to get very nervous. When this program came up for review, I was honestly sceptical that I was up to the challenge. I am happy to say that after only a few minutes, not only was I comfortable with the user interface, I was animating my own pictures out of my photo albums.
First off, here are the minimum specifications for running this software:
There is no Mac version offered as of the day of this review. I checked their user forum and the official statement was that there is no planned MAC version and if the need was there it would be considered in the future.
Installation of the software was painless. No restart was required and after entering the license key and registration information, we are brought to the start-up screen.
After you click off the “getting started” window, you are greeted by the Marilyn Monroe type character starting at you. You also get a glimpse into the ability this program has to animate as the character’s head is moving, eyes blinking as well as the mouth moving. Press the play button and she then starts talking.
Since I am nowhere near a software pro, I figured this would be where I spent days upon days of reading help files just to get anything to work. After a quick left-click on the help tab, I was pleasantly surprised that most of the stuff beginners needs to know are in the form of YouTube videos. They are very clear and very easy to understand.
I spent about 15 minutes watching them and decided to load up a personal picture to play with. As you import the picture, you are asked to crop your picture and set some basic points of reference. I decided to load up one of my “better” pictures of myself just for show.
As soon as you are finished loading your picture in, it comes to life. You won’t be fooled into thinking this is a movie, but it is really neat how this program works. The picture starts blinking and the head just sort of moves around. I had hours of fun playing with my pictures.
Once you start trying to add your own audio and emotions, it does get more involved and complicated. I do not have a microphone so I was unable to fully explore adding my own audio. I will say that the tutorials that Reallusion offers are easy enough to follow and with some honest effort, there is no reason for even a beginner like me to not have audio added quickly enough.
I have always wanted to do more with my PC. Like most people, I use it to pay bills, chat online, some banking and other random tasks. Video games are about the limits of pushing my hardware. When the opportunity came up to review this software, I jumped right in with both feet. I have to say, I did have a lot of fun while doing it.
As for the power and abilities you are offered, I must say I was impressed. After importing any old picture and setting 4 points of reference on the face of the subject, you quickly animate whatever you put on the screen. I took great delight in animating pictures of my cats, cars and whatever else I had a good straight on shot of. The limitations however are quickly apparent when your subject is either not facing you straight on or the head-shot is small. Also, only the head will be animated so using fully body pictures is not much fun. I had my family laughing to tears so in the end, it was a very fun and creative way to use my PC.
There are enough power features included in the PRO version to satisfy even the most advanced power user. You can edit all the aspects of the project quite fully as well. Everything is set on a timeline and facial expressions and movements can be fine tuned to your desires. It will take some time and effort to learn, but if you always wanted to animate pictures, you sure have the tools needed.
I have to rate this software a solid 8 out of 10. I would have rated it higher if the tabs were easier to understand and use as some of them were quite confusing. Overall, it works very well and I can confidently state that even a beginner will have hours upon hours of fun without the accompanying frustration.
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