12 Weeks with Nightmare Puppeteer 5: Audio and Lipsync

Aug 31, 2021 at 06:00 am by -gToon

This is the fifth episode of a series that will last for 12 weeks where I will learn Nightmare Puppeteer and attempt to create short animated scenes. Along the way, I’ll share with you my discoveries, my mistakes, and my successes using this remarkable game engine. 
Nightmare Puppeteer takes the approach of puppetry where you do something with your hands, but instead of using your hands, you are pressing keys on your keyboard….it’s an animation engine
-M dot Strange
NP is a Game
It’s important to point out that Nightmare Puppeteer is a game and not a 3D application. The gameplay is focused on creating characters, animations, and scenes within the game. And as M dot Strange points out “it’s an animation engine”. Also, the game is built upon the Unity Engine which means it has qualities that only a game made in Unity has (unique shaders and effects, for example). 
Audio in Nightmare Puppeteer
Audio is probably one of the best features in NP since it was designed for music video production (primarily). You can import music, voice-overs, create dialogue and even record live inside of NP with ease. There is also a pretty good lip-sync for every character which you can adjust to fit the style of your video. M dot Strange has an excellent tutorial on audio which is better than anything I could write, so here it is. 

One extremely important note: you must use .wav format 44.1, 16 bit audio for this game or else you'll get a very loud and nasty feedback. Always check that you are using the correct audio format. AND try to keep your voice clips under 60 seconds each for best memory usage. 
 One aspect of voice-over recording that is not apparent at first glance is that you have to go into the live recording tab in order to load pre-recorded voice clips which you can then use tab to play them in the order you choose. For example, you have a single speech by one character. Break the audio recording into logical sections then label them accordingly. Go into the live section of audio, upload each individual clip, and set their order of play. Bring up the scene and character you want to use the audio with. When you press TAB, the first audio clip (in the order you selected) will play. When you press TAB again the second audio clip will play and so on. Note that this feature is a bit buggy and doesn't always work. If that's the case just load one whole audio clip. The clip with start playing as soon as you enter the scene. If you want to start over, just hit escape and choose "reset scene media" and the scene will start over with a countdown. 
The advantage of this method is that you can time the animation to the audio more effectively. However, if you just want to get something created fast there's no need to break it up, just go with one clip and do your animations on the fly. 
Lip-sync is automatically generated when you load an audio clip. You do have control of the amount of lip-syncing though with the slider "lip-sync sensitivity". For the most part, you want to keep this at a fairly low level as the high levels are too exaggerated and call attention to themselves. The lip-sync sensitivity can be adjusted by character as well, although you can't save it. Nightmare Puppeteer only saves the last setting you used before you closed the program. Some heads are built in such a way that you have to adjust the lip-sync sensitivity because of the way the mouth is modeled. On some heads, you may have to increase the amount and on other heads, you may have to lower it. Fortunately, there is a small picture of your character's head in the audio section which shows you the level of lip-sync when you adjust it. 

Music is very simple to load into NP. There's a little cassette on the main menu table. Click that and you'll be taken to the music tab. Load your music, adjust the volume and it will start playing as soon as your scene loads. Again, you can hit escape to reload the media and start the scene again. 
Other Audio Features in Nightmare Puppeteer
There are several other audio features in NP like a midi file and a mixing panel for your sound sources, but I won't go into those for this episode. When we get into actually making a scene with music and a voice-over, I'll cover some of these features.  
Next Up: Making a short music video
Sections: Tips + Tutorials

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