Character Animator is a fun animation program that allows you to use motion capture on pre-created character puppets. Unfortunately, the library only comes with a small handful of characters to choose from, so you'll need to import your own character designs from a drawing program or purchase premade characters from Adobe in order to get the most out of this software. Adobe's premade characters are well designed and look professional, but we were disappointed that it didn't offer nearly as many free figures as CrazyTalk Animator. This software requires that you use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator so you cannot purchase it on its own.
Adobe doesn't offer this software in the Single App subscription so you'll have to pay $52.99 a month for the All Apps subscription. As the subscription title implies, paying this much will give you access to all Adobe software. It makes sense, given that this software doesn't have any drawing tools of its own so you have to rely on Photoshop or Illustrator in order to create characters and import them into Character Animator. You can only test this software for 7 days so you'll need to quickly decide if it's worth the price.
During our testing, this software repeatedly opened Photoshop and Illustrator using the Dynamic Link in order to create and use puppets. That's because this software was meant to be used alongside other Adobe programs. If you don't have Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects or Premier installed on your computer, many of the program's functions won't be usable. This software's animation heavily relies on motion capture so you'll also need a computer camera to get the most out of it. Performance capture responds to your facial expressions and head movements, but you can manually animate your character's body and limbs by clicking and dragging various sections. If your characters don't seem to be responding correctly to your movements, we found it helped to readjust the camera sensors.
When we first opened the software, a playful and fully animated tutorial popped up showing us how to use the program. We were also supplied with a small selection of puppets to play with. You can purchase additional characters from Adobe or create and import your own designs from Adobe's other programs. As expected, this software works in layers, allowing you to quickly select and edit various sections of animations.
Since the program relies so heavily on motion capture, it is missing many other animation tools. For example, there is no onion skinning feature, no drawing tools, no ability to create vectors from scanned images, no clipping mask tools and no premade special effects animations. The interface is simple and only supplies you with a few tools, but you'll need to use Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier and After Effects to have the most creative freedom. So, in that way, the software can be a steep learning curve as you'll need to be familiar with all of these programs.
When you are ready to share your work, bring your frames into Premier or After Effects to add special effects and tighten up your animation. This software can import PSD, AI and JPEGs, but that's it. When you are ready to export, your only option is to export as a PNG sequence or WAV file via After Effects and Premiere Pro. You cannot share your work directly to YouTube or Facebook.
Adobe offers plenty of tutorials and a super helpful knowledgebase. You'll also find hundreds of tutorials for any given Adobe program on YouTube, so you can learn how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier and After Effects alongside this software. Should you have any questions you can ask other users in the forum, or contact Adobe via phone or email.
Adobe Character Animator is relatively straight forward and easy to use by itself, but many of its tools link out to other Adobe programs, so you'll need to know how to use those programs to get the most out of it. There are premade characters for you to purchase and use, but it will take more skill to create your own characters. This program is a good choice for anyone who is already using Adobe, but it will have a steep learning curve and price-point for anyone who is new to the company.