Bad lip synching is an irritating distraction while watching animation, and it’s a sure sign that the budget was less than desired. Now Di-O-Matic comes to the resuce with its Voice-O-Matic v3 (the 3ds Max edition), the latest version of its lip synching software, which offers 64-bit support Autodesk 3ds Max 9, 3ds Max 2008, 3ds Max 2009 and 3ds Max 2010; a better UI and productivity enhancements…and a price of $349 for a full-featured commercial version.The new version, which also offers VoiceOMaticfloating license options and a year of premium support at this price, is expected to ship this summer.

According to a Di-O-Matic spokesperson, Voice-O-Matic lip sync software has been used in “every vertical media and entertainment market,” including CG feature films, animated TV series, 3D games, and commercials.  The plug-in allows uesrs to use the automatic phoneme matching features and, if desired, to manually tweak the results. Voice-O-Matic synchronizes pre-recorded audio to any type of 3D character set up, including morph target and bones-based character rigs. It supports a long list of languages, including English, French, Japanese, Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, and Italian.

Game dev company BEENOX/Activision in Quebec City did the voices for the game associated with Jerry Seinfeld’s animated VOMfeature Bee Movie, which featured a swarm of talking bees.

Stephane Duschene, lead animator, at BEENOX/Activision, notes that the company also used Voice-O-Matic on Monsters vs. Aliens, another DreamWorks Animation project. “For Bee Movie, we used it mainly for the first pass of the animation’s lip synch and we tweaked it for most important shots, such as the close-ups” he said. “It saves time and money, for us. For Bee Movie, all our animators were fresh out of school. They were newbies, so it took them longer to do key-frame animation. Most of them used Voice-O-Matic and then  tweaked the parts they needed. On Monsters vs. Aliens, we mainly did key-frame animation, but the background animation was done with Voice-O-Matic. We had more than one hour’s worth of animation to deal with, so we had to use short-cuts.” According to Duschene, animators at BEENOX/Activision can choose whether or not to use Voice-O-Matic. “It’s as they wish,” he said. “But they have to deliver on time. On these projects, without Voice-O-Matic,  the quality would have been lower given the time frame we had. We had to use it to make our shots better, faster. And then we could spend the time on the more important shots.”