Please see the purchase page for a complete price list for the Character Builder and addon-on products.
The Character API is billed per-use, at $0.007 per call, with no minimums. The results may be cached.
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.
Volume pricing plans are available for the Character Builder 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.
No. Licensed Character Builder users may distribute media files using our stock characters on a royalty-free basis.
The optional Speech Packs include royalty-free audio distribution rights, when distributed along with a Character Builder-generated media file.
You can purchase the Character Builder using our purchase page, or by Purchase Order at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Character Builder is also available through select resellers.
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.
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 API is simply a metered, cloud-based version of the Character Server. It includes the latest version of the Character Server and all character products, and is designed to scale to large amounts of traffic. The Character API is available as part of the Amazon AWS Marketplace.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 purchase page for details.
In HTML (App or Animation) mode, the result is a standalone HTML page together with an assets subdirectory. Many learning applications use the frame mechanism to allow one HTML page to be embedded in another.
The Builder also 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 "Flash Animation" output option, available on the Project properties panel. While there are some limitations to the Flash Animation 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.
In general you will find our characters to be very bandwidth-efficient. For example a complete character speaking a sentence can fit into as little as 40kb. However this depends to a great extent on the style of character chosen.
At Media Semantics our focus is on strengthening your brand, so we never force our own brand upon your audience. That said, 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:
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>