Frequently Asked Questions
+ What does PuppetShorts do?
+ What devices are currently supported?
PuppetShorts currently runs on the iPhone (5 or later) and the iPad.
+ Do I have to be an animator to use this app?
Not at all! In our experience first-time animators as young as 6 years old have had great success with the app! In fact, our animation process is unusual enough that experienced animators might actually be more likely to be confused at first. But the multitrack puppeteering system is intuitive enough that anyone (even an expert animator!) should be able to intuitively build up a performance in just a few minutes. If you have trouble using the app, just write and let us know what happened.
+ How do you guys expect to make money with a free app?
To us, PuppetShorts clearly wants to be free so that creative people of all backgrounds can discover animation and surprise the world with their strange, humorous, and/or touching shorts! We’ve included a basic cast of puppets for free. We offer additional/unusual puppets for sale within the app, so that anyone who wants to can expand their cast of characters and support our ongoing work on the app at the same time.
+ What other puppets can we expect in the future?
We’ve got lots more puppet-pack concepts just waiting for us to find the time to model and rig them into the app! One that’s mostly complete — and almost made it in for the initial release — is a classic HousePets pack of Dog, Cat, and Goldfish. Perhaps there should be political caricatures? And we're considering some fairly weird ones... If you have any must-do combinations in mind, let us know! We'd love to hear your ideas.
+ How do I edit keyframes? How do I “undo?” How can I record more than 10 seconds of audio?
These are all questions that might come up as you’re first getting used to Multitrack Puppeteering — especially if you come from a background in computer-animation or video-editing. PuppetShorts uses a layered performance-capture process, more akin to acting than setting keyframes. To intuitively puppeteer a feature to work with a line of dialogue, you need to be able to keep the whole line of dialogue in your mind. This is relatively easy up to about 10 seconds, but quickly becomes harder/frustrating above that. It’s not a hard limit, but it seems about right, so that’s what we used. (Let us know if you find that you’re running into it frequently and aren’t having trouble building up your performance at that length.)
Since the essence of the process is performance capture and the time-loop is relatively short, we didn’t expose the keyframes for manual manipulation. So no punch-in/punch-out or spline-editing experience is necessary! If you don’t like your previous capture for a given channel, just do it again. The more you listen to the audio, the better you know the nuances of the piece, so you’ll probably get better at capturing its essence with each pass anyway.
+ How can other people find my videos? How do I post my short on your website, www.puppetshorts.com?
Of course posting or sending your video to the individual people or groups that you want to see it will do the trick. But you can also add the #PuppetShorts tag to an Instagram post which will automatically get posted on our wall of videos. Of course, you can also post to any social platform and use the #PuppetShorts tag. We'll post the best shorts we can find on our site. We can’t wait to see what you do with the app!
+ What if multiple people are talking (or there’s background noise) in my audio-clip? The automatic mouth-animation is happening when my character isn’t talking…
When you select the mouth-shape animation track, you’ll notice that upon returning to the main edit screen, there’s now a “Auto Lipflap” toggle, on the left, directly below the active mouth-shape track icon. Toggle this “off” and you’ll be able to animate the mouth like any other user-controlled track. This way you can easily ignore background noises or secondary voices and your puppet will only lip-sync to the lines that you want them to.
Try starting with just up and down to open and close the mouth for the major vowels. You’ll be developing one of the basic skills of hand-puppeteering! Then, if you’re feeling adventurous, experiment with using left and right to move between the “ooohs” and “eees” of certain vowels.
Do you have an issue with PuppetShorts? Whether it is a bug, suggestion, or question about the intricacies of multi-track animation ... write and let us know. Our goal is to make animation accessible to everyone. We'll get back to you.