Talking head is a term referring to characters in Fallout and Fallout 2 with digitized speech and animated heads, rather than just text showing beneath a centered image of the character's sprite. These heads were typically first created as clay models, digitized using a Faro Space Arm and VertiSketch, touched up in theLightWave (early 3D modelling software), textured with Photoshop, animated, and finally stored as two-dimensional animation frames in .frm format.
The final talking head is composited from these frames and static pre-rendered backgrounds, then overlaid on the screen. The animation is lip-synced to the spoken dialogue on the fly, using .lip files, which match animation frames to phonemes.
Some of the voices for the talking heads were produced by well-known actors, such as Richard Dean Anderson from MacGyver and Stargate SG-1, and Michael Dorn who is known as Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
This talking head system was abandoned after Fallout 2. In Fallout Tactics, interactions are limited to pre-determined responses accompanied by static portraits. From Fallout 3 onward, virtually every character is voiced and has a 3D model animated in real time.
Talking head backdrops
Behind the scenes
- Talking heads were proposed during the game's development by Leonard Boyarsky. Most of them were painstakingly copied into the digital format from clay models by Scott Rodenhizer. Originally, Fallout was supposed to have 40-50 talking heads, but the average time to do one head, 8 weeks, was too time-consuming and was reduced to just 21.