The Secret of Animating Lipsync

Source: the animation apprentice

Above is a short video on how to animate lipsync, showing how to keep the process as simple as possible.  The idea is to break things down into easy sections so as to make sure that your work starts off simple and gradually grows in complexity as you layer in the detail. At its simplest, good lipsync is just about opening and closing the mouth on the vowels, and closing it on the consonants. But, developing a system to keep it simple and at the same time get a sophisticated result, is all part of mastering the art and craft of animation.

The secret of good lipsync
So what does an animator do to create great lipsync in a hurry? Of course, the secret of good lipsync really lies in great acting. After all, if you get the acting right, the lipsync is really an afterthought.

Lipsync technique
Once the acting is done, it’s important to get the actual lipsync right, and not get bogged down in too much detail. Here are the basic steps to get started:

Step 1
Open the character’s jaw on the vowels, and close on the consonants.

That’s it! Well almost…

Lipsync by Victoria Bailey

Make sure you don’t open and close on every single consonant and vowel, especially when doing rapid-fire dialogue, else your lipsync will look “chattery” and over-animated. You must avoid single frame transitions; ie where the mouth is closed at frame 1, opens at frame 2, and closes at frame 3. This is much too fast; it will read as an error.

Step 2
Find your wide mouth shapes. Especially “ee” shapes. Get a nice contrast between wide mouth shapes and….

Step 3
Find your narrow mouth shapes. Especially “oo” shapes. Get a nice contrast between these and your wide mouth shapes.

Step 4
Make sure all your main consonant shapes are working.
Check all the shapes, make sure they really read well.
Especially watch out for:
1. M’s, B’s, P’s
2. F’s, V’s
3. TH
4. L
Hold your main consonants for at least 2 frames, especially M’s B’s & P’s. One frame isn’t enough for these consonants to read clearly.

Joris Van Laar

Step 5

Make sure all your main vowel shapes are working.
Do the A’s look like A’s? Do the “oo” shapes look like they are making an “oo” sound?

And finally…get yourself a mirror!
Look at the desk of any animator who is animating lipsync and you will find a small make-up mirror. This isn’t for lipstick – it’s so you can make the mouth shapes yourself, and look in the mirror. Nothing beats acting it out yourself.

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