What are the best mouth shapes to use when doing lip-sync?
Answer Dylan replies
You may not be aware of this, but when we speak we don’t form all the individual shapes in a word with our mouth. It’s far too much effort! Instead, our mouths take the shortest route possible. The main mouth shapes are: a closed mouth M (which is also used for P and B); a wide mouth showing teeth for S (also used for C, D and T); an open O mouth; a wide and open A; and an E mouth, which is like A but wider still.
From there you have less-common secondary shapes: F, which has the lower lip tucked behind the upper teeth; and L is a wide mouth showing the tongue coming up behind the upper teeth. You’ll also need an extreme version of O and A for when these are said more strongly, and finally a TH shape showing the tongue between the teeth.
To animate these words, it’s best to find the main beats, adding in the most prominent key sounds and then playing the animation back to see how it flows and where to refine it with secondary shapes.
This set of 10 mouth shapes gives a solid basis for lip sync. Combine these with body movements and facial expressions to create some jaw-dropping animation!
Lip sync can be a great opportunity for humour. Meet Maths Mutt, who has a pretty extreme contrast in his various mouth shapes, bringing this dog’s absurd nature front and centre in his characterisation.