first I wanna say that creative cow is a really great comunity. I learned a lot bye reading the AE articles and tutorials here!! I hope to give back a bit in future.. =)
Now my little question, im still looking for a nice and "easy" way to animate the mouth/face of animals with a natural organic movement.
For the beginning with stills ;)
At the moment, I figured out 2 ways for me, to get start with..
Way 1)..I`ll model the part of the face in 3d and animate an compose it later.. hmm easy to do and after cameratracking it will work with a movieclip too... but has not much to do with AE, I think ;)
Way 2)..I take the animalstill and cut it into a lot of layers and deform and move them to fit with the sound of the voice.. a bit like Mister Aharon Rabinowitz do this in his tutorial with the smiley-guy.
Maybe anyone here has another good idea to do it in a better way =)
You might check out Crazy Talk, it's not perfect but I have 3.5, it's 4.5 now so better. I used it to animate an Illustrator Bigfoot. There is a trail version and the only learning curve is fitting the face with the morph line, then it will lip-sync to your audio or text (synth voice then).