Product Overview

Media Semantics is your complete source for animated characters and supporting technologies.

The Character Builder is a standalone tool that lets non-animators create animated presentations involving characters and supporting visuals. The Character Builder can render materials in HTML5, Adobe Flash, and leading video formats.

The Character Builder comes with royalty-free, ready-to-animate characters in a wide range of styles. Additional options are available in the form of Character Packs and Addon Packs. Many characters can be customized directly within the Character Builder, and custom characters are also available through our service desk.

The Character Builder supports Speech Packs as an alternative to recorded audio. Speech Packs are high-quality Text-to-Speech (TTS) engines that specifically permit the redistribution of the resulting audio within Character Builder-generated files.

The Character Hosting and Dial-a-Clip services provide many of the features of the Character Builder and Character Server products. Character Hosting lets you easily add a character to your website - applications are created online, and the resulting media files are located on our servers, but appear seamlessly in your website. Dial-a-Clip lets you create movie clips online, and then download them as MP4 files for unlimited distribution.

The optional Character Server is normally located on a web server, where it uses server-side Text-to-Speech (TTS) to generate dynamic character streams. The Server enables solutions in which any text can be spoken by a character, including text entered by the user, or derived from a database.

Aimed at web developers, the Character API is a metered, cloud-based implementation of the Character Server that provides a RESTful API for building personalized avatar experiences that scale.

Features at a Glance

Standalone visual editing tool lets non-animators work with character animation, voice, and supporting content

Render-to-HTML5 feature creates materials for mobile users

Render-to-Flash feature creates royalty-free materials for delivery via Adobe Flash

Render-to-Video feature provides video output for use in traditional multimedia and mobile applications

Optional Server provides batch and online generation of HTML5, Flash, and video

Character Hosting service lets you edit scenes online and then link them to your site

Dial-a-Clip service lets you create movie clips online and then download them for unlimited use

Character API provides an Animation-in-the-Cloud solution for JavaScript developers


High-Level Character Animation

The Character Builder uses a non-linear animation engine to create fluid animation from high-level commands such as Look, Point, and Say. Actions are independent: for example any eye or mouth action can be used with any hand action, to allow for a wide range of expression from a limited number of actions. The approach lets authors work independently from animators, and significantly lowers the cost of producing content involving character animation.

The Builder includes the ability to "lip-sync" audio files, so that a character's lips and gestures are synchronized with a voice. Text-to-speech voice is typically used during development, but is increasingly an option for deployment, with the advent of high-quality speech engines.

Characters are created using pre-rendered 3D art or vector-based art, and can take advantage of a variety of compression, masking, and tweening techniques. A separate Character Builder Extensibility Kit includes additional tutorials and source files for creating custom characters.

Visual Authoring Backed by XML

Media Semantics uses a rich set of XML primitives to describe character behavior and supporting visuals. The markup language resembles HTML, but includes objects such as Stage and Slideshow, that expose the underlying application model.

Content authors normally use the Character Builder's Outline, Design, and Script views to specify content in a visual manner. For example, the Builder's Script View lets authors specify actions by selecting icons from pull-down menus. The resulting script can then be recorded in-place, or used by a voice artist.

Developers can use the XML tag set when creating solutions involving database-generated content.

Streaming Web Delivery

The Builder generates files that take advantage of streaming: they begin playing almost immediately, and then continue to play as they download. Because character actions are normally interleaved with audio, the resulting streams can be very small.

The resulting HTML5 or Flash file has a simple API that allows the surrounding web page or application to start, stop, and select among different messages - the character smoothly reacts to commands and maintains automatic and idle actions, such as blinking or mouse-tracking.

Rich Supporting Media

Builder-generated media files can be placed directly on a web page, or embedded in a growing number of eLearning packages, including Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Captivate and Articulate Presenter.

Projects can also include supporting visuals - text, images, buttons, movies, and Powerpoint slides. Supporting media can be controlled by a character, and synchronized with the character's voice and animation. For example a character can "point" at an image on a slide, then hide one image and reveal another one. Similarly a character can glance at an embedded movie, watch it for a few seconds, then stop the movie, turn to the user to comment, then restart the movie.

The Builder can be used to create attractive slides and scenes, using features such as rich text, images, and embedded movies.

Dynamic Media Solutions

The Character Server is an optional component that you can install on your web server. The Server creates HTML5 Animation streams "on-the-fly" taking into account variable information, such as text from a database or a web-service, or information provided by an end-user. Because of this, the Server is typically used with a Text-to-Speech engine, located on your web server or in the cloud.

The Character Server is available for the Linux platform under either a per-domain or a per-machine licensing agreement. Alternatively, you can use access the full power of the Character Server in a metered fashion using the Character API, a RESTful cloud-based implementation managed by Media Semantics, and available via Amazon AWS Marketplace.

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