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Year released:
[www].se [ftp].se [mirror].us [mirror].de
HyperAnimator_1.5.2.sit (581.53 KB)
MD5: 600285a0e8561588abb215af28fe62b3
For System 6.x
[www].se [ftp].se [mirror].us [mirror].de
This app works with: Mini vMac

Text-to-speech HyperCard stack with the ability to control an animated face, inspired by Apple's "Knowledge Navigator" video.

This stack allows you to define a few phonemes for each face, and the software extends that to provide lip movements for any sequence of characters in the ASCII character set. Further extensions and control over precision in lip syncing can be managed through a scripting language called RAVEL, defined in the documentation.

Very comprehensive documentation, release notes, and product catalogs are included in the manual archive, as Acrobat 2 compatible PDF files.

MacTech covered this product briefly in their HyperChat column, volume 4 issue 5.

Bright Star Technology president Elon Gasper described his vision of HyperAnimation, and a high level overview of HyperAnimator's inner workings, in the July 1988 issue of Dr. Dobbs.

A 1988 made-for-TV remake of Disney's "The Absent-Minded Professor" featured a HyperAnimator authored avatar on a Mac playing the role of Albert. A preview can be found on Youtube. TV Acres has a credit.

The inner workings of HyperAnimator, RAVE and RAVEL are described in greater detail in U.S. patents US 5111409 A, US 5613056 A, US 4884972 A, US 5278943 A, and US 5630017 A. Some of these refer to a related product by Bright Star, marketed as InterFACE, which served as a more advanced form of HyperAnimator.

In 1992, Sierra On-Line acquired Bright Star Technology. Ken Williams admitted in his InterAction column (vol 6, no 2, pages 7-10) that this was to get ahold of their lip-synching technology for future games, such as King's Quest VI:

The first-ever true multimedia game to be shipped on a CD-ROM was Sierra's adventure game Mixed-Up Mother Goose. We started development in 1988 but didn't ship until 1990. It is much trickier to develop for CD than we had thought it would be. Although you have 600 megabytes of data storage, many CD-ROM drives are as slow as a floppy disk drive. Our toughest challenge was the slow seek time of CD-ROM drives. When we wanted a character to speak, there would be an unpredictable delay of one-third to a full second while the CD-ROM "seeked" for the speech data. Our other big problem was trying to synchronize the lips of our animated characters with the speech coming off the CD. There was no way I wanted our products to ship looking like poorly dubbed movies. We even hired a top Hollywood animator in the hopes that we could solve this problem.

Finally, in 1992 I solved the problem by the only other means left to me. A small Seattle-based educational software company named Bright Star had spent nearly a decade wrestling with lip synching. Their chief techie, Elon Gasper, a genius ex-college professor specializing in linguistics, was building an early-reading product called Alphabet Blocks. It featured a talking monkey, Bananas, and a jack-in-the-box named Jack. They look incredibly life-like when they talk. Elon's studies had demonstrated the increased comprehension that comes from watching someone's lips while they talk (rather than just listening), and wanted to create a program that would both show and tell children the correct pronunciation for a word. It took me about five seconds to decide to merge our companies.

More details on the Sierra acquisition, and the repositioning of Bright Star Technology's software and development teams as part of a major push towards edutainment software, can be found in InterAction vol 5, no 3.

Architecture: 68k


MikeTomTom's picture
by MikeTomTom - 2014, August 16 - 1:23am

Many thanks for archiving this. The manual & box art scans to PDF are superb.