Character Animator (October 2017) – Detailed Changes

Adobe Employee ,
Sep 19, 2017 Sep 19, 2017

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New and changed features

Projects and the Project panel

  • New Scene and New Folder buttons in the lower-left corner of the Project panel.
  • Double-clicking in an empty area of the Project panel now opens the Import dialog box, similar to other Adobe applications.
  • Importing a previously exported puppet (as of this current build) with shared groups now places the shared parts in a “<puppet-name> shareables” folder.
  • Added a Rename command to the context menu for an item, to make it more obvious that an item can be renamed.
  • Reduced the project folder size by consolidating the numerous files in the Ch Data/repo.noindex folder. This should make the project folder faster to copy, archive, and unarchive.


  • Option-/Alt-clicking the Add to New Scene button when multiple project items are selected will add each item to its own new scene.

Puppets and the Puppet panel

  • Auto option in the Attach To dropdownlist, to automatically attach an independent group to its parent group. (Newly imported artwork has all independent groups set to Auto attachment by default.) No more Staple tool/command or manual stapling needed -- just reposition the independent group's origin to where you want it to attach relative to the parent group's mesh. The origin shows a dotted green line if not above the parent mesh, or a green outline around the handle if above it. While dragging the origin, the parent mesh appears in yellow when not above it, and green when above it.
  • Yellow outline appears around the mesh for the selected layer.
  • Clipping masks -- select the successive layers (but not the last layer in a group) in the Puppet panel, then choose the Puppet > Create Clipping Mask command. Clipping masks in Photoshop artwork files are converted, but <Clip Group> masks in Illustrator are not. However, you can still use the Create Clipping Mask command for Illustrator-based artwork.
  • Blank Face template puppet (replacing Finn template) added to the Start workspace, and other template puppets now using the new Triggers behavior and clipping masks.
  • Renamed the “Warp Independently” option in the Properties panel to “Independent”, to match the existing wording of the crown tooltip in the Puppet panel.
  • Independent groups attached to their parent mesh via Hinge now scale if the parent scales.
  • Added a Rename command to the context menu for a layer, to make it more obvious that a layer can be renamed.
  • Added keyboard shortcuts for the tools in the Puppet panel (shortcuts appear in the tooltips for these tools, and work when the Puppet panel has focus).
  • Grouping layers now automatically selects the created group.
  • The last selected tool in the Puppet panel is now remembered for the next time the panel is opened.
  • When a handle is selected in the Puppet panel, the top of the Properties panel identifies the selected handle (or number of selected handles) to clarify that a handle and not a layer is selected.


  • Deprecated behaviors previously identified as “(old)” are now identified as “(obsolete)”; the Preview 4 version of Keyboard Triggers is identified as “(obsolete) [Preview]”.
  • Eye Gaze: Various improvements:
    • Eye darts (by default) with the new Snap Eye Gaze and Minimum Snap Duration parameters, for moving the pupils to nine specific locations (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or straight-ahead).
    • Touch screen support (via Mouse & Touch Input and Mouse & Touch Strength parameters) for controlling eye gaze by dragging on a touch-enabled display.
    • Keyboard support (via Keyboard Input and Keyboard Strength parameters) for controlling eye gaze by pressing the Arrow keys -- Up or Down for vertical; Left or Right for horizontal; Up+Left, Up+Right, Down+Left, or Down+Right for diagonal.
  • Face: Various improvements:
    • Pose-to-pose movement (Pose-to-Pose Movement and Minimum Pose Duration parameters; also works with the Smoothing parameter) to pause head movements at key poses automatically.
    • Eyebrow rotation control (Raised Eyebrow Tilt and Lowered Eyebrow Tilt parameters) to tilt eyebrows when raised or lowered.
    • Synchronized eyebrow movement (Move Eyebrows Together parameter).
  • Eye Gaze and Face: Adjusted Smoothing to provide finer control of results across the range of values, instead of only closer to 100%.
  • Fader: New behavior to fade opacity of a triggered puppet or group, fading up while the trigger is invoked, then fading down when the trigger is released.
  • Dangle: Renamed as Physics (see Physics information).
  • Head Turner: Head turns in After Effects that are copied using the Extract & Copy Face Measurements button can now be used (pasted onto) puppets that have the Head Turner behavior.
  • Layer Picker: New behavior to trigger (show) a specific layer in a puppet or group. The layer can be selected by number, percentage, audio, keyboard (Arrow keys), or mouse or touchscreen dragging horizontally, or a combination of these.
  • Lip Sync: Various improvements:
    • Improved accuracy of lip sync.
    • Copy a Lip Sync take of visemes (select the take, then choose Edit > Copy), then paste (Edit > Paste) them onto other puppets, even in different projects.
    • Copy a Lip Sync take of visemes (right-click on the take bar, then choose Copy Visemes for After Effects) as Time Remap keyframes for use in After Effects
    • Edit selected visemes via keyboard using the following shortcuts:
      • Left Arrow or Right Arrow -- select the previous or next viseme or span of silence in time
      • Up Arrow or Down Arrow -- move the selected viseme earlier or later by one frame in time
      • First letter of the viseme name (e.g., A for Ah, E for Ee, W for W-Oo, etc.) -- replace the selected visemes with the viseme assocated with that letter
      • forward slash '/' -- split the selected viseme in half
    • Removed the Keyboard Input parameter for switching visemes by pressing a letter when the puppet’s track is selected; changing selected visemes via keyboard is not affected.
  • Physics: New behavior that combines the older Dangle physics behavior with new Collision physics that allows layers to collide and bounce of each other.
  • Triggers: New behavior (replacement for Keyboard Triggers) for triggering layers in a more flexible way, and allowing for visual controls for them. See the "Trigers and Controls" section below.
  • Walk: Various improvements:
    • Added a Toe Bend parameter to roll or bend each foot at the toes as the heel rises from the ground.
    • The Walk handle tags (stick figure) in the Properties panel now shows the suggested location for the Toe handles so that toe bending produces intended results.

Triggers and Controls

  • Triggers behavior, replacement for Keyboard Triggers, and the Triggers panel allow for more flexible setup of triggering the visibility of layers, even multiple layers in different parts of a puppet's structure, via key press or use of an external MIDI device.
    The obsolete Keyboard Triggers behavior used by existing puppets and projects will still work, but you can convert to the new Triggers system at any time.
  • The Triggers panel lists the triggers associated with a puppet. Swap sets (of triggers) can be created to trigger/show only one set of layers at a time, such as for different hand gestures.
  • Triggers can be associated with a MIDI notes (keys).
  • Recordable triggers appear in the Timeline panel as trigger bars for easy editing, similar to viseme bars for lip sync.
  • The Controls panel provides a visual dashboard of a puppet's triggers, and also allows for numeric behavior parameters to be added to it as well. Those numeric parameter controls can also be associated with continuous controls (faders, knobs) on an external MIDI device.
  • Button, slider, and angle controls can be laid out in the Controls panel any way you want, and button backgrounds can have a lighter color. For triggers associated with multiple layers, you can choose which of those layers to appear on the button.
  • MIDI keys or controls can be learned (assigned by tapping/changing them) when a control is selected, or the MIDI Note field in the Triggers panel has focus.

Recording, Playback, and the Timeline panel

  • Audio tracks now show rectified waveforms on them.
  • Audio tracks can be resized vertically by dragging the lower edge of the track header.
  • Puppet tracks can be armed independent of track selection, by clicking the red Arm for Record button in the track header. Clicking a puppet track aumatically arms it, but you can arm multiple puppet tracks by holding down Shift or Cmd/Ctrl.
  • Added a Timeline > Return to Start Position on Stop option to replay the same range of time more easily.
  • Added the following keyboard shortcuts for scrolling through time:
    • Page Up or Page Down -- scroll left or right one "page" (visible range of time) at a time
    • Cmd/Ctrl+Page Up or Cmd/Ctrl+Page Down -- scroll left or right less than a page at a time
  • Added a Timeline > Scroll During Playback option to scroll the Timeline panel's contents during playback or recording.
  • Moved the Linked Selection button that was previously in the upper-left corner of the Timeline panel to the Timeline > Link Recording Selection menu option.
  • Changed the Timeline > Compute Lip Sync from Scene Audio to use the selected (and nonmuted) audio tracks or all nonmuted audio tracks (if no audio tracks are selected).
  • Dragging the start time for a trigger or viseme bar in the Timeline panel now snaps to either the playhead or the start or end of take bars.
  • Rename a selected marker by pressing Enter, in addition to the existing double-click action. [DVACH-1380]
  • Viseme labels now appear when there is enough space for them on the viseme bars, instead of only after zooming in quite a bit.
  • Newly created markers are now selected.
  • When zoomed in all the way to see individual frames, their boundaries are highlighted in alternating shades of gray similar to After Effects.
  • Updated track colors in the Timeline panel: Audio tracks are now green, and the initial puppet track starts off as blue.

Live Output

  • The “Disable Mercury Transmit output when application is in the background” option in the Live Output preferences now defaults to unchecked (i.e., allow streaming when not in the foreground), so you don’t have to remember to uncheck the option when coordinating live streaming in another application.
    Note: Other Adobe applications still default the option as unchecked (disabled output).


  • Added common zoom shortcuts in the Scene and Puppet panels: Cmd/Ctrl+= (equal sign) for zoom in, Cmd/Ctrl+- (hyphen) for zoom out.
  • (German) The zoom-in shortcut is Cmd/Ctrl++ (plus). Also, the existing Show Trigger Keys shortcut was reassigned to Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+- (minus) so that the common shortcut could be used for zoom out.
  • Workspaces have been updated to include the Triggers panel (in the Rig workspace) and Controls panel (in the Record and Stream workspaces) by default. Any custom workspaces that you previously had will need to be recreated.
  • Added a Limit Camera to 12 fps option (in the Camera & Microphone panel menu) to limit the face tracking frame rate and camera display to 12 fps, in case you want facial movements to be at a lower frame rate than the rest of the puppet. This option can reduce CPU usage.
  • Added a Boost Quiet Audio option (enabled by default) to the Camera & Microphone panel menu to make the microphone input louder to compensate for background noise that might interfere with lip sync processing, but you can disable it if background noise or quiet audio isn’t a problem.
  • Added a Pause Camera & Microphone When Application in Background option (default is unchecked) to the Camera & Microphone panel menu for pausing camera and microphone processing when Character Animator isn’t the foreground application. This option can reduce some CPU load when not needed, but if you are live streaming and working in another application to coordinate the stream, you’ll want to keep this option unchecked.
  • After Effects (2018) has removed the File > Open Adobe Character Animator menu command and File > Scripts > New Comp from Character Animator Recording.jsx script. The preferred way to get a Character Animator scene into After Effects is via Dynamic Link, but you can still import a PNG sequence (conforming it to match the scene's frame rate) and WAV file, and add both to a new composition, manually.
  • Added a Help > Keyboard Shortcuts menu command to view the keyboard shortcuts reference (currently only showing Beta 6 shortcuts).
  • (Mac only) Added a Help > Adobe Crash Reporter menu command to let you change the preferences for sending crash reports to Adobe.
  • Removed the keyboard shortcuts for the panels listed in the Window menu.
  • Added another way to reset a workspace layout by double-clicking the workspace’s name in the workspaces bar.

Fixed issues


  • Importing a file while the Getting Started project is open now creates a new project first. This is now consistent with using a template puppet from the Start workspace.

Scenes and the Scene panel

  • Resizing the Scene panel very short and clicking in the workspaces bar no longer causes endless “Matrix cannot be inverted” error messages.
  • Closing a scene when Microphone Input is enabled is now quicker.
  • Refreshing a scene while the Microphone Input is disabled no longer prevents the “Preparing scene” status message from appearing.
  • Deleting a scene in a workspace that’s not currently showing the Scene panel no longer shows old scene content temporarily when switching to the Scene panel.
  • Pasting a Lip Sync take or face measurements (from After Effects) now extends the scene’s duration if needed.

Artwork and Assets

  • Importing a Photoshop file that uses variables no longer causes a “Photoshop file error -1” error.
  • Importing invalid audio files no longer causes a crash.
  • Adding a missing audio file to a scene no longer causes a crash.
  • Artwork structural updates should no longer occur when the application is being used headlessly (e.g., via Dynamic Link).
  • Importing invalid PNG files now shows an appropriate error message.
  • Deleting audio files from a project now properly deletes the audio tracks in scenes that contain those files.
  • (Windows) Deleting or undoing the import of audio files in a project no longer prevents them from being renamed in the operating system.

Puppets and the Puppet panel

  • Improved handling of updated artwork for a puppet that previously had a shared group re-added to it.
  • Moving a just-created stapled group’s origin no longer shifts the artwork.
  • Right-clicking above a puppet item in the Project panel or using the Edit Original command for a puppet when its artwork has been deleted from the puppet (e.g., it was previously shared, then deleted from the project) no longer causes a “couldn’t find required item at project path” error message.
  • Duplicating a puppet containing nonshared groups with no source artwork no longer cause a “ProjectItemController.lua:307: attempt to index local 'srcPPath' (a nil value)” error.
  • Importing a puppet that contains shared groups (puppets) now retains their shared state.
  • Nested shared puppets are more resilient to artwork updates in the containing puppet.
  • (Non-English) Template puppets (in the Start workspace) create puppets with translated names.
  • Renaming a selected layer after scrolling the layers list with the mouse wheel now shows the edit field in the correct location.
  • Cancelling the import of a PNG Cycle no longer shows an “Internal error code: (1601668587:1599+14) assertion failed” error.
  • When rearranging layers within a puppet, the horizontal drop target indicator no longer appears for unsupported locations in the puppet hierarchy.
  • The handle creation tools no longer allow you to create handles at the top-level of a puppet that only has independent groups.
  • The Attach Style dropdownlist is no longer hidden when selecting multiple groups in different parts of the puppet structure (i.e., that are not in the same parent group).
  • Width of the Puppet panel’s sidebar (layers list) is now remembered in the current session.


  • Face: The Left Pupil Range and Right Pupil Range tags are no longer included with this behavior, instead only available with the Eye Gaze behavior.
  • Dangle: Independent groups attached to their parent mesh no longer shears.
  • Lip Sync: The Compute Lip Sync from Scene Audio command should no longer create a recording with no visemes.
  • Lip Sync: Replacing several adjacent visemes with Silence now combines adjacent spans of silence into one, instead of leaving redundant silences.
  • Lip Sync: Delaying speaking at the start of a recording no longer creates a keyframe for that initial silence.
  • Walk: Toes no longer bend in the opposite direction when the feet handles aren’t horizontal (e.g., Toe and Heel handles at different heights).
  • Walk: When the top-level origin handle isn’t near the Hip/Waist handle, the head isn’t shifted.
  • Walk: Arms can now swing even if a Neck handle tag isn’t present.

Recording, Playback, and the Timeline panel

  • Punch-in recording (starting a recording while the scene is playing) no longer causes visemes to appear delayed by the difference between the start of playback and recording.
  • Possible fix for the scenario when audio was recorded even though the Microphone Input was disabled.
  • Viseme labels should now appear on viseme bars when there is enough space to show them.
  • Viseme names are now properly truncated if the viseme bars are too narrow to show the name.
  • Pasting a Lip Sync take no longer keeps the previous takes selected.
  • Transport controls now work when the Timeline panel is maximized.
  • Holding down the Left/Right Arrow keys when a viseme bar is selected now shows the selection changing while the key is held down.
  • White highlighted left edge of a selected viseme or keyframe bar will no longer appear if you can’t actually drag it.
  • Timeline-related commands are now disabled unless the Timeline panel is visible.

Dynamic Link

  • If After Effects has never been launched on a machine, Adobe Media Encoder and Premiere Pro no longer give a “Could not read from the source. Please check if it has moved or been deleted.” error message. The previous workaround was to launch After Effects once.


  • Long-running particle simulations are more efficient with memory usage.
  • The last focused panel in a workspace is now remembered between sessions.
  • (Mac only) Option-double-clicking in the Scene or Puppet panel now properly resets zoom to 100% instead of 200% on a Retina display.

Known issues

  • Face, Keyboard Triggers, and Lip Sync behaviors in projects and puppet files created in earlier (Beta) versions of Character Animator might appear as obsolete (with “(obsolete)” after their names) when opened in the latest Character Animator CC, but will still work. However, they will not benefit from improvements made in newer versions.

Workaround: If you wish to update the obsolete behaviors to the latest versions, and do not have any recordings for them, or if you don't mind losing the recordings, select the puppet in the Project panel, remove the obsolete behaviors, and add the newer versions of the behaviors. For the obsolete Keyboard Triggers, replace with Triggers.
If you update the behaviors for a puppet imported from a .puppet file, be sure to export a new .puppet file to share with other users that have a similar version of Character Animator CC; they cannot be imported into earlier versions of Character Animator once re-exported.

  • If a scene doesn’t render (i.e., Scene panel shows only the current background color), try clicking the Refresh Scene button at the bottom of the Scene panel. If that still doesn’t work, try Option-clicking (Mac) / Alt-clicking (Windows) the Refresh Scene button. If the scene still does not render correctly, please file a bug report and attach a project or artwork file.
  • In an Illustrator file, layers and groups with “Guide” in their name will not be interpreted as guides/handles, and their content still render even if muted in the artwork file. Only paths are supported at this time.
  • Applying the Draggable handle tag to the top-level origin handle for a puppet won’t allow the puppet to be dragged in the scene.

Workaround: If the puppet’s layers are enclosed in a single top-level group, apply the Draggable tag to that group’s origin.

  • Background syncing, backup, or virus checking programs might cause error messages in Character Animator if the current project’s files are being synced, backed up, or scanned at the same time. Avoid creating projects in these background-synced locations, or at least avoid working in a project while syncing is enabled.

Workaround: Exclude the folder containing your Character Animator projects (by default, located in your user Documents/Adobe/Character Animator (Mac) or Documents\Adobe\Character Animator (Win) folder) and its subfolders from virus scanning, or at least for write operations.







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