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Activity Forums Commotion Animating an animal talking….which program to use?

  • Animating an animal talking….which program to use?

     wayne daniele updated 5 months, 2 weeks ago 5 Members · 10 Posts
  • Bill Paterno

    August 18, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve just been informed by my boss that we are shooting a commercial in which a live-action cow talks. It actually sings…two words. Thats it.

    I need to make this look believable and I have not dabbled in live-action animation. I consider myself pretty experienced in After Effects but I am unsure if this is the way to go. I have been doing some research and it seems that Dr. Doolittle (the one with Eddie Murphy) used a ton of After Effects for animal animation. Could it be as easy as getting a large amount of cow footage in hopes that I can get some mouth movement and then compositing it in?

    RIght now it looks like I have a week before the shoot goes down. If anybody has any ideas on how to approach this (suggestions that I could make before they shoot so I get what I need) or if you have any information you can direct me to…it would be GREALY APPRECIATED! 🙂

    Bill Paterno

  • Matt Silverman

    August 18, 2005 at 7:46 pm

    You really have three choices for talking animals.

    The old Mr. Ed trick getting the animal to eat peanut butter (not too hot).

    Create 3D jaw and replace the entire mouth area… probably overkill for you.

    2D warping. This is your best bet. I have done this in flame using it’s mesh warper. The Mesh Warp in AE might work if the camera or head doesn’t move too much (flame can have the mesh tracked to the head… ae can not). You can also try the liquify effect in AE. If neither of these work well, then check out the ReFlex plug-in from RevisionFX… this is an excellent morpher/warper. Or you can try Elastic Reality if you happen to have an old copy laying around.

  • Bill Paterno

    August 18, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for the quick response! Ive tried three posts in the AE forum and no help 🙂 I have been researching a bit on the REflex plugin. Im wondering about tongue and teeth and what not. Could I use a combination of warping and masks along with some images I capture of the inside of the cow’s mouth? Once again, thank you for the help. It looks like I will be purchasing a copy of REflex tomorrow 🙂


  • Matt Silverman

    August 18, 2005 at 8:15 pm

    You could try tracking in teeth images. If you need this detail, then CG jaw replacement might be a better approach if you have the budget.

  • Bill Paterno

    August 18, 2005 at 8:21 pm

    Yeah a CG jaw would be cool. I have about 5-10K to work with so Im not sure if thats a possibility. It doesnt have to look super realistic…it just needs to look good. The only thing Im wondering about (as I have been playing around with some stills and the AE warping tools) is this…I can warp the mouth but it still does not give the illusion of an open mouth. So I am now working with a mask for the actually open mouth. Is there anything else I am missing?


  • Chris Holland

    August 31, 2005 at 1:21 pm


    I was curious what you decided to go with to get it to work and how it turned out?


  • Bill Paterno

    August 31, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    I decided to go with the REflex plug. I tried it out on a still of a cow and got some great results. We just cut the spot and the offline was approved so I will be starting either today or tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks again Chris.


  • Toby Barnett

    February 6, 2009 at 1:00 pm


    Ive just been asked to do the same for a horse… How did reflex work out. I have very little budget so for $500 i need to be sure i will work!


  • Bill Paterno

    February 6, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    It worked out pretty well. It helped that it was only a couple of words in the song that the cow had to sing. On your budget, I am not sure what else would work. Check out ReFLEX and see if they have a demo that you can play around with. The hardest part will be recreating the inside of the mouth.

  • wayne daniele

    October 14, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    what you decided to go with to get it to work and how it turned out?

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