KB101: Integrating Character Builder with Adobe Captivate

These notes have been revised for Captivate 9.

There are two different ways to embed Character Builder animations into Captivate: as a Flash Animation and as an HTML5 Animation.

Insertion as a Flash Animation works with any version of Captivate, but does not support the HTML format - only the Flash format is supported, which means you need to be using Publish to Computer and not Publish to Devices. It is simple to use and allows the character animation to be locked to the Captivate timeline.

Insertion as an HTML5 Animation works with Captivate 8 and higher, but does not support the Flash format - only the HTML5 output format is supported for publishing in Captivate.

Insertion as a Flash Animation

To create a Flash SWF file that can be inserted as a Flash Animation, you create a new Character Builder project with the Flash Animation output format, and with the correct Frame Rate.

Both options are available on the Project panel. You can quickly create a project with the correct settings using File > New Project, selecting the Message type, and then on the next page of the wizard, the Flash Animation configuration.

The Frame Rate should be set to match that of Captivate, which is normally 30 frames per second. If the frame rate does not match the frame rate in Captivate, then your animation may play too fast and get cut off early.

After you Render to Flash from the Character Builder toolbar, use the Output button to view a list of output files. You can then drag the Flash file from the output directory onto your Captivate slide. The Captivate timeline for the slide should automatically be extended to match the duration of your animation. You can also use Captivate's Media > Animation... command, then navigate to the Output directory of your Character Builder project, which is normally under Documents/Character Builder Projects.

When you import a flash movie as an animation, you will normally want to check the Synchronize with Project checkbox, so the user can stop, restart, or scrub backward and forward in Captivate and the character will be updated accordingly.

If you update your movie in Character Builder, you will need to re-render it to Flash, and then right click on the animation in Captivate and select Update. In many cases you will create several different Character Builder movies for integration into a single Captivate project. To do this you can either create multiple Character Builder projects (one per output movie), or you can create a single Character Builder project file with multiple presentations or even multiple scenes, then disable all but one presentation or scene using the Disable for Render and Enable for Render commands located on the right-click (context) menu on the elements in Outline view. By enabling only what you need you can quickly render a single item at a time.

Your stage will normally be small - just large enough to contain the character and any arm actions it might use. You can include a background image, but by default the Character Builder output has a transparent background. Of course the character need not appear on each Captivate slide, or it may appear in a different location from one slide to the next. If you use it to create a software simulation, then Captivate will create many slides, frequently of very short duration. If you want a character on multiple Captivate slides, then you can either create a new Character Builder project for each slide, or you can tell Captivate to have the animation last for all remaining slides with the Timing tab's Display for Rest of Project setting.

Note that while Captivate has a growing number of options for dealing with audio, you always want a character's voice to be created within Character Builder, so that the character can lipsync the audio properly. If you already have audio files in your Captivate project, then you may be able to recover them as .wav files that are useable by Character Builder when you export your Captivate project. Sadly, it is not possible to use Text to Speech engines that come with Captivate 5 to create audio for Character Builder, nor can the Character Builder's Text to Speech addons create raw audio files for use in Captivate. Note also that Captivate's "Paul" and "Kate" voices are a lower quality voice (they have a smaller phonetic database) than the versions of Paul and Kate sold for use with the Character Builder.

Insertion as an HTML5 Animation

To create a .zip file that can be inserted as an HTML5 Animation, create a new Character Builder project with the HTML5 App output format, and with the correct Frame Rate.

After you Render to HTML5, press the Output icon in the toolbar to see the resulting output. Select all files, right click on them, and select Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder. Name the zip file the same name as your project - for example if your project is named Project1, then the zip file should be Project1.zip.

Next, use Captivate's Media > HTML5 Animation... command, then navigate to the Output directory of your Character Builder project, and select the .zip file.

If you see scrollbars around your character, you should extend the size of the animation to be equal or larger than the size of the Character Builder project.

Note that HTML5 animation objects do not have a Synchronize with Project option - the animation always triggers at the beginning of the slide. Also, as with all HTML5 animations, once the animation begins, it won't end until it comes to a natural stop. Pressing the playbar stop or pause button will not stop an HTML5 animation. As a result, HTML5 animations may be best suited for short messages, such as an introduction or an encouragement. Longer explanations might be done in the same voice, but without the character visible, using Captivate's integrated audio capabilities. As long as the same voice is used, a character need only appear on some slides in order for the user to understand that the voice belongs to the character.

If you change your Character Builder project, you will need to republish it in Character Builder, delete and re-create the zip file, then right-click on the animation in Captivate and select Update.

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