What if you had an audio recording of an interview that you think could work even better as a video, but you really want something to feature the interviewee beyond just a still image or some b-roll footage? You may want to consider pairing that audio with a 3-dimensional animation. ReelSEO interviewee Fred Spencer did just that, and posted our interview on his own YouTube channel. So is it an effective use of creating video content for business, or more like creepy puppeteering?
Last week I interviewed and Fred and Sharon Spencer for my article, Can Videos that Suck, Work As A YouTube Marketing Strategy? While some people would consider their initial viral video to be accidental rather than intentional, and their production choices to be questionable, I found myself respecting (and even liking) what they do. That's because they're clearly doing what they enjoy, they like to experiment with animation software, and they've stilled managed to maintain an audience (albeit a "super-niche" audience for now.) So I thought it would be interesting to interview them both and hear their story.
Turning An Audio Interview Into a 3D Animation for YouTube
We did our interview via Skype. I gave Fred a copy of my own audio recording, which he used to create an animated piece (featuring myself). After seeing the final piece (which you can view above), I checked out the program Fred used to create the 3d animation studio software – iClone4 from Reallusion.
iClone – "3D Real-time Animation" for "Aspiring and Pro Animators”
Reallusion calls their iClone4 software "a rapid 3D creation program" for both beginners and pros, and can place "real-life actors in 3D environments." They have two versions of their software which carry the following features:
iClone4 Standard version
- Build 3D Actors in minutes
- Easy scene and set design
- Add any video to a 3D scene
- Animate actors with your voice
iClone4 PRO Version
- Real-time animation & video compositing
- In-screen motion editing & facial puppeteering
- Advanced timeline editing with transition curve
- Enhanced visual quality with HDR lighting effects
Pricing for each is $79.95 and $199.95 respectively, which I find to be rather competitive and affordable even for non-tech heads like myself. What I was particularly impressed with iClone 4 was that you could import an audio (.wav) file to a preset avatar, and the avatar's mouth would move somewhat in sync with the vocals. You could also to real-time adjustments to the head movement and expressions, even right down to eye blinks. I also found the iClone YouTube channel particularly helpful with offering tutorials and demos.
2D Still Images for 3D Animation to Video Online
The Reallusion Store page also comes with a number of other programs for 3D animation. I was also impressed with their CrazyTalk Animator software (which Fred appears to have also used for our interview), that can take most any photo or other and give it 3D movement.
So what do you think? Does 3d animation software work for video marketing interviews, or any other type of simulation of human beings (in place of actual people?) I'm interested to know of any good examples of 3d software studios for creating into marketable video online; and which are accessible to regular marketers and content generators (including journalists-cum-media-personalities like myself), who don't need to have a serious technical background in 3d rendering or any other kind of animation.
My initial thoughts are that this could possibly come in handy for when you only have an audio of someone that you would like to make into a video, and you feel it deserves more than just a photo representation of that person. I think for some types of videos geared for certain audiences comfortable with 3D avatars, it could certainly be worth trying (including inserting real humans along with, or between footage of, these 3D avatars.) Other audiences may have a more difficult type adjusting to what I call the "creepiness" factor of seeing something not-quite-human staring at them on screen. With anything, it should come down to testing and see how your audience responds, and figuring if the extra work time (which I think Reallusion is sensitive about) makes it all worth it.
You can find out for yourself, as Realllusion offers trial downloads of their software products. (However, I am remiss that neither iClone4 nor CrazyTalk provides a Mac version.) If you know of any other 3D rendering software that you'd recommend for video marketing, feel free to share in our comments section!