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 the Macromedia Flash™ SWF format,
the new HTML5 format, as well as leading video formats.
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. When used with the Builder, 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.
The Character Builder comes with royalty-free, ready-to-animate characters in a wide range of styles.
Additional characters available in the form of Character Packs and Addon Packs.
Many characters can be customized directly within the Character Builder, and additional customization is also available
through our Service Desk. Meanwhile, the optional Extensibility Kit gives savvy artists access to
the powerful underlying artwork model, and includes sample art files in leading 3d and vector formats.
The Character Builder supports high-quality 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 Builder-generated files.
Features at a Glance
Standalone visual editing tool lets non-animators create
character animation, voice, and supporting content
Integrated media tools provide lip-sync, Text-to-Speech (TTS),
and audio processing functionality
Render-to-Flash feature creates royalty-free materials
for delivery via the ubiquitous Macromedia Flash player
Render-to-Video feature provides video output for use in
traditional multimedia and mobile applications
New Render-to-HTML5 feature lets you target iPhone and
Optional Server provides batch and dynamic generation of Flash and video,
as well as a comprehensive API for solution developers
All products are available for Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
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 reveal a high-level 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 also appreciate the powerful underlying XML tag set, for use in creating
Streaming Web Delivery
The Builder generates Flash files that take full advantage of streaming:
they begin playing almost immediately, and then continue to play as they download.
Because character actions are interleaved with audio, the resulting streams can be
very small. In many cases a message can begin playing within the first 20 kilobytes of
The resulting 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 Flash files can be placed directly on a web page, or
embedded in a growing number of eLearning packages that support the insertion
of movies, including PowerPoint, Adobe Captivate and Articulate Presenter.
Projects can also include supporting visuals - text, images, buttons,
Flash 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 Flash and HTML5 streams
"on-the-fly" taking into account variable information, such as information from a database or web-service, or information
provided by an end-user. Because of this, the Server is almost always used with a Text-to-Speech engine,
also located on your web server.
The Builder and Server can work together to enable conversational agents that respond to typed questions using natural dialog.
At the heart of a conversational agent is an AI engine that converts a text question to a text response. The Character Server includes connectors to third party
AI engines, such as AIML Program D. It also includes a native AI Server that is suitable for answering questions and delivering news items.