Walking-Silhouette-AnimationMost of the animated infographic videos that include characters of people tend to use simple pictograms and icons or cartoons to represent the people. But there may be cases where you might want to use a more realistic representation of people, like silhouettes for example. So, how do you go about creating animated silhouettes of characters doing something for your videos?

The easiest way for common movements would be to search for and purchase stock footage of animated characters. But you may not find exactly what you’re looking for. Another option might be to shoot live-action video footage and then edit that footage to create an animated silhouette. A third option that I’ve be experimenting with is to create everything digitally with software.

You can see an example of this to the right and I’ll outline the basic process at a high level that I’ve been using (I may do a more comprehensive tutorial when I have more time).

Animated character in Poser

Animated character in Poser

The first step is to create your character and animate them in Poser from Smith Micro. Poser is “3D software with free 3D models and character creation tools to easily render 3D graphics and animations.” I’ve been using Poser more and more to get realistic poses for characters in videos. It takes some getting used to but it’s a very handy tool to have in your digital tool box. I typically export images from Poser and then import them into Adobe Illustrator to create vector images of them and alter the characters to match the style of character I’m using in the video. But if you just need silhouettes, for background action say, you can animate the character right within poser and get video from that.

Although Poser has the ability to export video files, I haven’t yet been successful in exporting a high quality silhouette video from Poser. So, I hit upon a workaround – grab a screen capture of the animated silhouette within Poser using video screen capture software like Camtasia from TechSmith. Capture the animation with Camtasia, adjust the canvas size and timing in Camtasia then export a .mov file from Camtasia.

Next, I import the Camtasia-generated .mov file into my motion graphics software, Apple Motion. I crop the video and add a color filter to set the background color to what I need and the character color to what I need and I’m good to go. In this example, I used Poser’s Walk Designer to easily make the character walk.

So, if you need animated characters for your video, definitely check out Poser.