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Text & video updated: 30 November 2018

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Video 11 of the Controllers & Expressions Series:
Creating an icon grid for lip synchronization, part 1 of 3

While you may be content with controlling eyelids, blush opacity, and other such items with After Effects’ built in controllers (I admit to often using instead of composition controllers myself), you may find the next project something you want to try if you use switch layers to change the shape of your characters’ mouths.

If I use mouth switch layers, I use a lot of them, and I often design intermediate steps so that transitions look soother. However, for our project we are going to work with 12 mouth shapes on a 3 by four grid. To get an idea of how this grid works take a look at the 8 second videos below.

This video has the icon grid marked as a guide layer, so it doesn’t show up when the project is rendered.

This video does not have the icon grid marked as a guide layer, so it shows up when the project is rendered.

While it may look as if a lot of code is needed to make this work, we are only going to use a 6 line expression. We will also explore how to create any grid size you need using the same 6 line code structure.

As a side note, to make the face more organic when the mouth is moving, puppet pins can be used to move the face for each mouth position within a composition.  This arrangement can be time remapped directly to the icon grid. Perhaps I’ll add a bonus video in the future to explain how this can be done (I want to complete the Stickman rigging videos first).

Controllers & Expressions Series announcement graphic

Creating an icon grid for lip synchronization,

part 1 of 3

Downloadable work files: This 16MB zip file contains the Illustrator files Angie 3.1 icon Grid.ai and Angie Head v3.1.ai which are used in the Creating an icon grid for lip synchronization project.

Icon Grid for Lip Synchronization file

A complete set of work files for all projects in this series is available on the directory page:

Controllers & Expressions Series

Video content:
  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 0:38 Demonstration of icon grid
  • 1:26 Looking at the Illustrator files
  • 2:15 Create & setup new project; import the files
  • 3:43 Creating the lip composition & switch frames
  • 6:10 Getting the icon grid ready for coding
  • 8:03 Writing the clamp expression for the Selection Box layer
  • 10:11 End Credits

Code from the video

The code below is provided as a reference, and was copied directly from the video After Effects file. Expression fields that contained only a pick whip connection are not included.

Clamp( ) expression for the Selection Box layer position property

clamp(transform.position,[0,0],[100,150])
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