Dialogue Workflow Overview

I. Dialogue Planning:

A. Listen to the Audio

B. Write Out the Words

C. Breakdown the Words Phonetically

D. Phrasing

II. Taking Dialogue in to the Computer:

A. Setup Your Scene

B. Block Out the Shot

C. Finesse Shot

D. Modify the Mouth Shapes

E. Nose and Cheek Animation

F. Weight and Overlap

G. Final 10% ( check arcs )

Dialogue Planning

Listen to the Audio:

# Listen to the Audio. Listen to the words and search for the meaning

# Try to find the sub-context to what's being said

# once you have a subcontext come up with setups with characters that would naturally fit the subcontext

# Look for areas to show the character breathing ( bring the chest back and the shoulders up)

Write Out the Words

# Write it out phonetically, breaking it down in to the individual phoneme/sounds

Assess the Level of Importance for each Sound/Shape

Prioritize the Sounds in this Hierarchy

 Prio  Sounds  Description
 1st  Puh ( pie), Buh ( bye), Mm (my), Ww (way)  lips must close and air explodes out
 2nd  F (fear), V (veer)  teeth touch the bottom lip
 3rd  Th (thaw)  tongue between the teeth:, push the rest of the tongue to the back of the teeth
 4th  T (two),D (due), S(sue),Z (zoo), N (new) L (lou)  tongue tip to top of mouth
 5th  Sh (rush), J (rouge), Ch (rich), J ( ridge), R (raw), Y (yaw)  half way back the tongue to the roof of the mouth
 6th  k (rack), g (rag), ng (rang)   tongue is in the back of the throat, mostly just jaw movement
 7th  H (high), G (gun)   vibrating vocal cords can be ignored

Mark any dialogue that is effected by one of these four instances:

-co-articulation: the vowel shapes affect the shape of the consonant before it

-dip-thongs vowel sound produced by having the jaw drop in the middle of the sound ( rolling the jaw)

-consonant r: pinching of the corners of the mouth while saying the sound

-cognate pairs: two sounds that are different, but externally they look the same


# Breakdown which sounds are the most important (emphasized sounds).

# Operative Word(s):

-break the dialogue down in to phrases vs. words

-choose the most important word(s) of the shot and build your performance around that.

-Your choice will dictate the meaning of the dialogue.

-Limit your operative words, preferably 1/shot, sometimes 2, maybe 3 too many can cause over-acting.

-Your Operative word should dictate your biggest or only gesture.

-Your operative word should motivate your biggest change of body gesture and facial expression.

Taking Dialogue in to the Computer

Prep the Shot:

create character sets for the mouth, and the tongue

Dialogue Blocking:

Emotions and Key Poses:

Block in the the Key poses and Emotional changes. This will help set the baseline for the rest of the lipsync process. Make sure your Operative Word(s) is/are getting accented. You can experiment with putting this on animation layers to allow you dial it up or down later.

Initial Jaw Pass:

Just put your hand on your jaw and say the dialogue. Block in your jaw based on when you feel your jaw open and close. Also pay attention to any side to side motion.

# work with the curve editor to adjust the ease ins and outs of the jaw to help loosen up the mouth (use the tangents)

# to loosen up the face, copy the jaw X rotation to the jaw Y translation. Scale it down and offset it in time to add a little subtle, sympathetic animation.

Initial Mouth Corners:

Use your own mouth to do a quick blocking of the wides and narrows of the corners of the mouth.

use the graph editor to adjust the mouth sides ease ins and outs, Use the tangents to help soften the curves and keep the keys on the original frames to keep your scene clean.


After the jaw and mouth corners are done, do a pass on the lips. Use the list below and favor 1st to last priority. Use the less important shapes to setup the higher priority. As you go down the list, keep checking to see if the dialogue reads. Only pose in as many shapes as you need to get the dialogue across. You'll probably either minimize or drop some of the less important shapes to keep the mouth from looking too poppy.

General Timing:

# Hit the shapes quickly, but then ease out of the shape so we can read it.

# time the shape to hit it's maximum when the sound is the loudest

# Start slowing in when the sound starts, some sounds are at the release of a shape

# slow out until the sound stops or bleeds in to the next sound

# transition from one shape to the next and anticipate the next sound

# use the more generic shapes to setup contrast in the more important shapes so they read better

Priority List:

 Prio  Sounds  Description
 1st  Closed Shapes  ( closed as in closed lips, the jaw doesn't necessarily have to be closed) Anticipated shapes, the shape has to be made and released to make the sound. Preceed the sound by 1-2 frames
   Puh ( pie)  the lips purse a little vs. rolling in the lips need to press a little vs. just touching, add a little puff to the cheeks to expel the air.
   Buh ( bye)  has the lips roll in the most
   Mm (my)  the lips roll in a little ( show a little compresion), put a little puff in the cheeks to push out the air. You can push the squash and stretch on Ms by raising the whole mouth and compressing the cheeks, then lower the mouth for the release
   Ww (way)  a really tight "oo" shape that widens or tightens as the sound is made. W's are the tightest "o" shape that will be made in dialogue.
 2nd  F (fear), V (veer)  The bottom lip curls in under the top teeth. It curls under a little more for V than it does for F. To show the curl have one frame with the lip under the teeth And a second frame with the lip curled up under the teeth even further. Try to hold for at least 3 frames, add a little puff to the cheeks
 3rd  Th (thaw)  tongue between the teeth:, push the rest of the tongue to the back of the teeth
 4th  D (due), Z (zoo) L (lou)  tongue tip to top of mouth
   T (two)  tongue tip to top of mouth, the mouth goes relatively wider
   S(sue)  tongue tip to top of mouth, S's show both sets of teeth, usually with a gap between them.
   N (new)  tongue tip to top of mouth, N's have a little bit of a smile shape to them
 5th  Sh (rush), J (rouge), Ch (rich), R (raw), Y (yaw)  Middle of the tongue to the roof of the mouth
 5th  J ( ridge)  Middle of the tongue to the roof of the mouth, relatively wider than the proceeding sound
 6th  k (rack), g (rag), ng (rang)   tongue is in the back of the throat, mostly just jaw movement. Since the sound is made in the back of the throat, just push the preceeding shape
 7th  H (high), G (gun)   vibrating vocal cords can be ignored

After hitting the main lip shapes, do a pass adjusting the relative narrow or wider shapes.

 Relative Narrower  Narrow (OO)  as in you, the lips need to roll out, make sure the teeth are hidden out of the way
   W's  a little bit of a pucker and the corners of the mouth comes in and forward. Pinch the corners
   R, AW, OH, UH  Open, and narrowing of preceeding shape
 Relative Wider  Wide(EE)  more extreme position of the corners of the mouth, back and slightly up, show the line between the teeth
   H (have)  the mouth needs to be open a few frames before the sound,as it's made by expelling air through the shape
   IH, T, S, D, SH, TH, NG  just relatively wider than the previous shape

Finesse the Shot:

# Driving factors of Mouth shapes:

# the characters emotion should drive the shape

# the characters idiosyncrocies will contribute to the shape

# other factors like what the character is doing will effect the shapes ( eating, blowing, etc.)

# the further your character is away frome camera the bigger you need to go with your shapes

Finalize the Jaw:

# do another pass on the jaw to make sure it's working with the tongue

# make sure you're using up, down, and side to side on your jaw rotations

Nose, Ear, and Cheek Animation

# Add a slight bit of movement of the ears by copying the jaw X rotation and using a toned down version on the rotation of the ears. Just enough to be felt vs. seen.

# As a starting point, you can copy the X rotation of the jaw and put it in to the up and down of the cheeks and nose. Tone it down a lot, but a little bit of movement tied in will help to add some fleshiness.

# finess pass: nose, cheeks, make sure that all the shapes read correctly and that everything works together

# animate the nose being dragged down by the skin as the jaw opens, create that tension and pliabilty in the skin clean up the curves so the nose drags but it won't continue to move once the jaw stops. Adjust the curves to fit the intensity of the mouth, with some nice ease ins and outs.

# do the same thing with the cheeks, pulling the cheeks down when the jaw opens really wide.

Weight and Overlap

# Add in Weight using offsets.

- Drag and overshoot the lips when the jaw moves. Add new keys vs. moving the keys you have already

- Double check the corners of the mouth to make sure they don't stick when they're not supposed to.

# Mouth Corners, have the corners come in when the mouth opens and out when it closes to add squash and stretch.

Finalize Dialogue

# work with the Graph Editor to blend the shapes in to one another

# Check Arcs on the important parts again

# Look for spots to have the jaw opening but keep the lips closed for a frame

# Favor either the open shape or the closed shape of the jaw. Avoid even transitions

# Try to get the corners of the mouth moving in subtle arcs

# Clean up the curve tangents of the cheeks

# nose animation: flares, sneers, squash and stretches

# pepper in the squash and stretches to make them feel more fleshy

# Improve the readability of the dialogue by using opposites and stepping

# Corners of the mouth

- are they going forward and back, up and down

- use ease in and outs, with more snap in to the shape and more of an ease out of the shape

- for final polish, try to get the corners to do nice arcs

- have the corners come in when the mouth opens and out when it closes

# Teeth: Try to have only the top or the bottom teeth showing unless they're needed for the pose. That will give it a cleaner more graphic shape.

Other Things to Think About

# female characters will need softer shapes or they can get ugly quickly