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My original intention when I got involved in The Movies Modding was to use the game content as a source for graphics assets to make animations and ultimately videos using Blender.  We can import props, sets, costumes and character heads from the game and now we can also import costume and prop animatiions, including horses, dogs, and so on.  The one big thing the game does we cannot yet do in blender is recreate the facial expressions and lip syncing that the game can do, so I am looking into the possibility of using conventional methods to provide these capabilities for Blender animation using The Movies assets.

The Movies Game heads imported from Blender come with bone controls for facial features which are presumably for the purpose of creating expressions and lip syncing.  There is a free program called Papagayo which can be used to generate a file with a list of frame numbers and phonemes from text.  It includes the capability to import a sound file to assist you in  aligning the phonemes with the sound track.  The package includes a set of images which show the mouth expressions for the various phonemes.

These are called "Moho Mouths" because the program is intended to interface with the graphic animation software Moho.  Some animators use this software to lip sync in Blender using a script that reads the Papgayo output file.

Here is an example of the output, which is the line: "I....I forgot where I parked my car."  The numbers are frames and the letters are the names of the phonemes.

2 AI
6 rest
21 rest
22 AI
23 rest
23 rest
24 FV
26 E
28 etc
31 AI
33 etc
35 rest
35 rest
36 WQ
38 E
40 etc
42 rest
42 rest
43 AI
45 MBP
47 AI
49 etc
56 MBP
59 AI
61 etc
63 AI
66 etc

Here are the mouth expressions for each phoneme.

Moho Mouths by lefty2016

So what we need to do is create facial poses for each of the 10 Moho phonemes, using the pictures as a guide, and
write a script to set the face pose for each of the key frames in the Papgayro output file.  If we are willing to be really cheesy, we could just create two poses, moth open and mouth closed.  Do you think anybody would really care?  Probably not.

One thing I noticed looking at The Movies heads is that there is an object consisting of teeth with a "throat" backdrop.  In the game, when the actors talk, the lower teeth move.  The teeth, as imported into Blender are weighted to the controls for the lower eyelids for some reason.  I don't understand that.  If you reassign  them to the jaw control, the lower teeth can be made to move up and down like the chin, which makes sense.  There are bones to move and reshape the lips as well as move the jaw up and down, so by regrouping the lower teeth to the jaw, there is sufficient control to reproduce any of the above facial phoneme expressions.
lefty2016 Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2017
It might work, but you may have to rename the vertex groups so they will not conflict with those used by the game heads.
MoviesBandit Featured By Owner Edited Dec 26, 2017
This would be very cool. 
Truly your scripts can make TheMovies 2.

I though the (.HD) script may of had a bug or two.
But the script is fine.
The actual fault is with theMovies generic_facialskin.msh…………

The head (I believe) is used in Starmaker.
I found it in the stand alone Starmake app using pak poker.
And perhaps the .HD files are a set of positions applied to this head?

But the head is not ready, by it self, for mods, or in game animation.
The (.HD) import script uses a .blend file of this head,
and also applies the .HD positions to it.
The solution is to make a modified script that uses a modified head.
I would say just modify the head but if someone doesn't know what they are doing,
they can mess up the script and have to reinstall it.
Better to make a duplicate,
then make the proper adjustments to the head,
and make a new script that will load the new head instead of the old one.

If we added head bone data to the existing animations, would these export to the game?
I really believe your script is also appropriate for auto-animated props,
which then could utilize facial expressions!
I wonder if used in scenes, if the game's facial animation would override the custom animations version.
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Submitted on
December 25, 2017