Adobe and Microsoft have been showing up at a number of each other's product announcements and launch events recently. This trend continued at Adobe’s MAX conference earlier this month when attendees were given a preview of how Adobe’s applications and Microsoft’s platforms can be combined to create animations. While Adobe's After Effects shows their experience in creating animation applications, this new technology goes far beyond anything available with the mouse and keyboard. The Adobe app is code-named Project Animal and uses speech recognition and Microsoft Kinect-like gestures to animate characters, which artists control using a Web cam from their computer or laptop. The demonstration of these new animation capabilities occurred using Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella both expressed their commitment to combining Adobe apps with Microsoft touch platforms such as Windows 8.1. Nadella stated that the goal for Microsoft was the capability to perform the creative process of animation on many different types of devices. Adobe Animal tracks the movements of the creator, including the eyes, head and mouth. This allows the character to display actions such as blinking and eyebrow-raising, mimicking the creator’s expression. The artist controls the character by making the appropriate expression, bringing a level of control to animation that goes far beyond anything available within After Effects. While Adobe Animal is primarily designed for artists who are already familiar with Adobe’s After Effects animation software, this type of capability is likely to attract many new users to Adobe's tools, and appeals to users trying to create simple characters through advanced animators creating complex characters with a range of expressions, With Adobe Animal we may see animations that will be easier to to control without complex interactions.
The Adobe Animal animation workflow begins with importing layered image files from Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop projects. Each layer corresponds to one of the body parts for the character. The character requires no further rigging, and can be controlled using a standard Web cam. The After Effects team at Adobe is running a private pre-release beta program, and this tool is not yet being distributed publicly. While there is no formal release date set for these updated animation tools, once they become available American Graphics Institute will be incorporating them into the After Effects training classes
. All AGI's classrooms are already equipped with computers capable of running After Effects, and also include the Web cams that are necessary for Adobe Animal.