Frequently Asked Questions

How much does your product cost?
How is your product licensed?
Do you have volume pricing?
Do I need to pay royalties?
How can I purchase the Character Builder?
What kind of support is included?
What is the difference between the Character Builder and the Character Server?
What is the difference between the Character Builder and Character Hosting?
What is the difference between the Character Builder and the Character API?
Do you have international language support?
How many characters do you have?
What can I make characters do?
Can I modify a character's appearance?
Can I create a character from a photo?
How easy is it to create a new character?
Do I need any other tools?
What are my choices for audio?
What other tools does the Builder work with?
What are the bandwidth requirements?
How can I link to your site?


How much does your product cost?

Please see the online store for a complete price list. (top)


How is your product licensed?

The Character Builder and stock characters are licensed per-user. They may be installed on both a workstation and a home/laptop computer, so long as both are under the direct control of the same user. Please contact us if you require a per-seat licensing arrangement.

Speech Packs are licensed per computer, and will not work on any computer other than the one they are licensed to. Licenses can be moved to a new computer. If the Builder is installed on two machines, and the Speech Packs are installed on only one of those two machines, then you will be able to do TTS voiceovers on the machine with the Speech Packs only. You can work on all other aspects of your project from either machine.

The Character Server is licensed per server, and will not work on any computer other than the one it is licensed to. The license can be moved to another server upon request. There are no restrictions regarding the number of CPUs or CPU cores. Domain-based licensing is available in some cases - please inquire for details. (top)


Do you have volume pricing?

Volume pricing plans are available starting at quantities of 5 and higher. Please contact us for a quote, and indicate whether this is for an enterprise, government, or educational institution. (top)


Do I need to pay royalties?

No. Licensed Character Builder users may distribute media files using our stock characters on a royalty-free basis.

Materials produced with the Character Server may also be distributed royalty-free and cached as necessary.

The optional Speech Packs include royalty-free audio distribution rights, when distributed along with a Character Builder-generated media file. (top)


How can I purchase the Character Builder?

You can purchase the Character Builder using our online store, or by Purchase Order at sales@mediasemantics.com. The Character Builder is also available through select resellers. (top)


What kind of support is included?

Unlimited email support is included with all paid products. We can also work more closely with your team to provide hands-on assistance with an Extended Support package. (top)


What is the difference between the Character Builder and the Character Server?

The Character Builder is an application that you install on your Windows laptop or desktop. You use it to "Render to HTML5/Flash/Video", i.e. create individual media files that you can then upload directly to your web server or use as source material for other media tools. Because the media files contain the actual audio synchronized with a character's lips and other actions, you must determine in advance all the possible things a character might do or say. Each atomic unit of delivery is called a Message. A Builder-generated file can contain several messages, and the messages can be triggered externally, or based on input from the user. You might use a message to greet a user, present a slide, prompt the user for a multiple choice input, or respond to a user's input with a specific response.

The Character Server is an optional component that you can install on your web server. With it, you can create a media file "on-the-fly", taking into account variable information, such as information from a database or web-service, or even specific text that an end-user might have typed-in. Because of this, the Server is almost always used with a Text-to-Speech engine, also located on the web server. (top)


What is the difference between the Character Builder and Character Hosting?

The Character Hosting service makes it easy to create and maintain several common types of applications, or "Scenes", from any web browser. There is no software to download: simply log on, make your changes, and Publish them. While the resulting media files remain on the Character Hosting servers, you can link them to your own site so that they blend seamlessly with the rest of your content. The Hosting service measures how many "views", or "streams", your scenes receive. You can choose from several monthly subscription plans based on the usage level that you need. Your Hosting account enjoys access to all stock characters, the NeoSpeech Paul and Kate TTS engines, as well as Character Server functionality, such as the Respond() and Speak() API.

Why choose Character Hosting? In a sense you are leasing the output rather than purchasing the means of production. While the Hosting system lacks some of the flexibility as the Character Builder, it remains a simple and inexpensive option that is suitable for many users. (top)


What is the difference between the Character Builder and the Character API?

You don't need any other products in order to use the Character API. Pricing is based on usage, like a utility. The Character API uses CSS Animation, which is a different technique than is used in a regular Character Builder HTML5 project, and one that is more oriented towards JavaScript developers. Concepts such as slideshows, buttons, hide and show actions, are not available in the Character API, but can be built using JavaScript code. (top)


Do you have international language support?

The Character Builder itself is only available in English, however it will create content in any language. The lip-sync component is language-independent, and has been tested with languages such as French, German, Spanish, and Japanese. High quality Text-to-Speech engines are also available for many foreign languages - please see the purchase page for samples. (top)


How many characters do you have?

The Character Builder ships with several "stock" characters. Additional characters and character add-ons are available for download from our characters page. We can also work with you to create custom characters and character add-ons in a range of styles, through our Service Desk. (top)


What can I make characters do?

Our stock characters share a set of standard actions, allowing them to be easily interchanged. These standard actions include turning, pointing, looking, hand gestures, and facial expressions. You trigger actions by inserting the appropriate action icons into the transcript. Actions are independent where possible. For example you can follow a Look Left action by a Gesture Left action, and both actions will be executed simultaneously. (top)


Can I modify a character's appearance?

Most of our Cartoon and Illustrated Head characters can be recolored directly within the Character Builder. You may also be able to install an add-on that will alter a character's appearance. PhotoFit characters can be configured to match any face, and the Character Builder includes functionality to extract face parameters from a regular photograph. (top)


Can I create a character from a photo?

Yes. A new line of "PhotoFit" characters allow you to use a photo to create a custom character. The Character Builder's Edit Face window will analyze your face and then save the shape and texture parameters in a "face" file. This file is then used to "just-in-time" render the animations required to create your Flash output, and the resulting Flash and video files have all the same run-anywhere characteristics that Character Builder users have come to expect. (top)


How easy is it to create a new character?

We have created a Character Builder Extensibility Kit specifically for developers and animators who need to create their own characters and library objects. The kit contains tutorials and source files that will let you create your own characters. An extensive knowledge of vector and 3D graphics techniques is assumed however, so the kit is not for everyone. (top)


Do I need any other tools?

The Character Builder can render Flash SWF files that can be read by the Adobe Flash control, which is freely available and is generally pre-installed with the Internet Explorer browser. Adobe's own Flash authoring tool can be useful for advanced users who wish to create applications that either contain a Builder-generated Flash file.

The Character Builder includes the ability to import Powerpoint slides, however this functionality is only available when a licensed version of Microsoft Powerpoint 2003 or higher is installed.

The Character Builder includes basic audio processing capabilities, such as noise gating, trimming, and normalization, however a more powerful audio-processing tool may be desireable for heavy users of recorded audio. You will also want access to Adobe Illustrator and or Photoshop, or equivalent products, to create supporting artwork. (top)


What are my choices for audio?

The Character Builder lets you record audio files using a standard headset microphone. The Builder also lets you import audio from a recording studio. You should ensure that the source audio is high quality, specifically 44.1khz 16 bit, mono PCM .wav audio (i.e. CD format, but mono). You can use a service such as Voice123 to locate and purchase voice talent over the web.

Another option that is becoming popular is the use of high-quality Text-to-Speech engines. Although broadcast-use licensing has traditionally been difficult, we have worked with several leading vendors to provide Speech Packs, or high-quality engines, with distribution licenses for use with the Character Builder. Please see our online store for details. (top)


What other tools does the Builder work with?

Generally speaking, the Character Builder works with any tool that lets you embed Flash movies. A short list of compatible tools includes Microsoft Powerpoint, Adobe Flash, Adobe Captivate, Adobe Authorware 7, Articulate Presenter, Lectora Publisher, and Qarbon ViewletACE. In creating Builder movies for insertion into other products, we recommend using the "Straight Flash" output option, available on the Project properties panel. While there are some limitations to the Straight Flash mode, the resulting flash movie is a simple linear sequence of frames, which will ensure maximum compatibility. Notes regarding the integration with individual tools can be found on the support page.

The Builder also allows movies from other tools to be inserted within a scene, however not all tools have their own equivalent to "Straight Flash" for the creation of a linear list of frames. As a result, you will not always be able to use the Start, Stop, and Goto Frame actions. (top)


What are the bandwidth requirements?

In general you will find our characters to be very bandwidth-efficient, however this depends to a great extent on the style of character chosen. (top)


How can I link to your site?

At Media Semantics we are dedicated to helping you strengthen your brand. We never force our own brand upon your audience. However free or discounted products can sometimes be obtained in exchange for a "Powered By Media Semantics Technology" on the same page as your published work:

Powered By Media Semantics Technology

You can use the following HTML syntax to place the logo on your site:

<a href="http://www.mediasemantics.com"> <img src="http://www.mediasemantics.com/images/MSLogo.gif" alt="Powered By Media Semantics Technology" width="112" height="87" border="0"></a>

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