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"Why's everybody got lady lips? Are those human lips? Whose lips are those?"

Synchro-Vox is an extreme form of Limited Animation: A mostly obsolete technique in which footage of the actor's mouth is superimposed upon an otherwise non-moving image. See the other Wiki. Can look pretty unnatural. A few lazier productions go one step further and also animate the eye movements this way.

Mentioned on the Dead Unicorn Trope page because only a very small number of productions used it straight, after which everyone immediately realized it looked really, really creepy and fake; anyone using it outside of those very few examples is probably going for comedic effect, Mind Screw or both. You can expect it to suddenly show up in other forms of animation as a Medium-Shift Gag. It has made somewhat of a resurgence on YouTube, either for deliberate comedic effect or simply because it's very easy to do.

Just as primitive Rotoscoping has given way to Motion Capture, the great-great-grandson of this technique can be found in the advanced facial performance capture techniques used in works like Avatar and L.A. Noire.

Compare Medium Blending.


    open/close all folders 

  • Edwin Gillette initially invented Synchro-Vox to simulate talking animals for commercials in the early 1950s. He later became a partner in Cambria Studios (see "Western Animation" below).
  • Some Midas commercials have featured a golden hand with a face in the palm.
  • A clip advertising both The Steve Harvey Show and The Tonight Show featured the hosts' faces with their mouths switched.
  • The (no longer manufactured) Vertigo Candy had commercials that did this, in the style of the below-mentioned Têtes à claques. Sweet dreams.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged occasionally uses this for both hilarious and creepy effect:
    • In the #CellGames short featuring Ryu and Ken, Ryu mentions how the way fighters communicate is through their fists, Cell responds by saying that they should do so with their mouths, using this effect as he says it.
    • In another #CellGames short featuring Light Yagami and Ryuk, Light begs Ryuk for help when he realizes the Death Note stopped only one of Cell's hearts and Cell is about to kill him. Ryuk's only response is an evil grin, but what makes it creepier is that the Synchro-Vox is not only applied to his mouth, but his entire face.
    • In the first episode of Dragon ShortZ, Nappa briefly uses this effect when he tells Vegeta "Don't shake the baby", complete with unsettling music in the background as he says it.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in Batman to mask the lips of the recent victims of Joker's toxin in order to "advertise" his Brand X.
  • Steve Oedekerk has made something of a trademark of this technique (using eyes as well as a mouth), most notably with his "Thumbs!" series of parody shorts, in which Steve's thumbs play characters from Star Wars, The Godfather, Batman, etc. It also appears as one of the primary gags in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, with the main character's tongue being its own character named "Tonguey".
  • Briefly used in Forbidden Zone during a musical number: It turns out this is because the first-time actor they hired to lip-sync was so nervous he froze up and just stood there, but the film itself has such a strange visual style that the effect fits in perfectly. To this day, Danny Elfman plays the scene for new actors as a warning to learn their lines.
  • The Gingerweed Man: The titular protagonist's mouth is animated via this to some extent.
  • A motion-capture version is used in Golden Winter to animate the jaws of the dogs as they speak.
  • In the trailer for Shock Treatment, has Dr. Cosmo's image from the movie's poster and edits Richard O'Brien's moving mouth onto it.
  • David Lynch employs this technique in his short film What Did Jack Do? for Jack, a talking monkey. It's actually fairly neatly done, with the mouth matching Jack's head movements quite well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Rory Bremner used this with photographs of politicians he was imitating back in the late 1990s.
  • Charmed uses this in Paige's dream sequence in "Sand Francisco Dreaming", superimposing human lips onto an otherwise inanimate clown doll. As if the clown doll itself wasn't creepy enough.
  • The old Comedy Channel (predecessor to Comedy Central) aired Clutch Cargo as part of The Higgins Boys and Gruber show.note  In a reference to the show itself, this technique was used to introduce the show as well as to lead back to the main Higgins Boys and Gruber show. Notably, it incorporated a frame from the show with someone acting as Clutch.note 
  • Used to simultaneously terrifying and heartrending effect in Abed's student film in Community.
  • Dick & Dom in da Bungalow regularly had an animated mouth over an image of newsreader Huw Edwards, mimicking an exaggerated Welsh accent.
  • Used in an episode of Good Luck Charlie when the family makes a short, comedic "interview" with the titular child — who can barely speak — using a deliberate English accent.
  • Goosebumps (1995):
    • In "The Haunted Mask", whenever the plaster bust of Carly Beth's head appears to speak, live eyes and a mouth are superimposed onto the bust.
    • "My Best Friend Is Invisible" uses this technique during The Reveal at the end; depicting the protagonist, Sammy, and his entire family, as aliens with faces on the back of their heads.
  • Jeopardy! had a category called "History Speaks!" in a 2003 episode. It involved portraits of historic people with superimposed lips to make it look like they were talking.
  • Robot head 790 in Lexx is a variation. The robot head's eyes and mouth are small TV screens that display a mouth played by a live actor; the eyes are fake, but are props with a camera pointed at them, not CGI. The effect was actually done live on the set; the TV screens on the prop are actual TV screens.
  • The intro to the 1988-89 version of The Newlywed Game used this on early 20th-century wedding photos, the lips moving in synch to "The Book of Love" by The Monotones.
  • Conan O'Brien has used it quite a bit. Which is likewise spoofed during one segment of Robot Chicken Star Wars.
  • Steve Oedekerk's Thumbs! series of specials have eyes and mouths superimposed onto decorated thumbs.

    Music Videos 
  • Alphaville's video for Song For No One features a chorus of drag queens(?) with old TVs for heads. The screens display the singer's lips singing the refrain. Looks cheap and dated, just like the rest of the video.
  • The infamous "It's Raping Time" song, with an Ao Oni demon's face as the overlay.
  • Jeff Foxworthy's "Party All Night", created out of one of his comedy sketches with a chorus sung by Little Texas, has two instances of synchro-vox in its music video (directed by "Weird Al" Yankovic).
  • Parodied in Alan Jackson's video for "That'd Be Alright", where a crew trying to film a music video without Jackson himself tries doing this to a photo of him, and later tries digitally overlaying a different mouth over clips from previous Alan Jackson videos.
  • Kraftwerk used it for the Russian-speaking portions of the video for The Robots from The Man-Machine.
  • Utilized to equally hilarious and unsettling extent in the music video for Mechanical Bull's "Can Jesus's Advice to Strippers Save the Economy?"
  • The Offspring's "Hit That" offers a variant, adding digital eyes and mouth to a man in a costume.
  • Pepe Deluxé used this in their "Pussy Cat Rock" and "The Mischief of Cloud Six" videos. In the case of the former, the lips are superimposed over live-action footage of a robot cat doll.
  • In Timbuk3's video for "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" this is used.
  • In "Weird Al" Yankovic's music video for the song "Dare to Be Stupid", during the 5th verse, there's a part where Weird Al's lips are synchro-voxed onto a cat clock's face.
    • It's also used in the video for "Bedrock Anthem", where Weird Al's lips are synchro-voxed onto Fred Flintstone at one point.
  • This was used in The Wiggles for "The Banana Boat Song", where the boy has an adult mouth (Anthony stated that it's his son with his mouth plastered over). Unlike most examples, the edit is much smoother, though it can look dodgy at times.
  • Hank Williams Jr.: The video for "There's a Tear in My Beer" features Hank Jr. entering an old live performance of his father, with another person's mouth synchro-voxed onto Hank Sr. to have him "singing" the song.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • Among all the other bizarre imagery, Let It Die features a few uses of this in the cutscenes before and after fighting the Dons, with live-action mouths superimposed over cardboard cutouts of the bosses.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Bad Days portrays the title characters of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) with live-action human mouths.
  • In the DEATH BATTLE! between SpongeBob SquarePants and the Superfriends iteration of Aquaman, Aquaman briefly veers into this territory upon seeing SpongeBob replicate himself.
    Aquaman: GREAT NEPTUNE!
  • EVTV Weather uses this for all the characters.
  • Homestar Runner has an example played for sheer cringe in the Strong Bad Email "too cool". After watching a video tape made by Senor Cardgage, the characters are all "cursed for life". Rather than being haunted by a spirit or some such, they discover that whenever they say the word "tertiary", their lips become creepy photo-realistic animated lips that are clearly an attempt to invoke Synchrovox, their hands involuntarily go to their hips, and they pronounce the word in a bizarre, sassy metallic voice while wiggling from side to side. Like everything else about the episode (and some would say, the site), it Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
  • How It Should Have Ended:
  • Nicktendo's SML animations look a lot like this, though they are not actually synchro-vox.
  • In the fourth episode of Object Terror, Stapler's eyes and mouth are rendered from a live person when everyone correctly guesses her to be the murderer of Paint.
  • Pamtri uses this in some of his more surreal videos, usually combined with demonic black eyes.
  • YouTuber Mutant Museum's Dramatic Reading of The Eye of Argon uses this technique for Stylistic Suck. All the character models are made in Heroforge, a program for designing tabletop gaming miniatures, and then his mouth is awkwardly pasted onto their faces, which means that every speaking character — including the princess — has a mustache.

    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd:
  • The Annoying Orange uses the "with eyes" variation. Though it isn't as odd-looking since the characters are mostly real pictures of household food and items.
  • Autotune The News uses this once for one of the member of The View in an early episode.
  • Hamster 65's mouth in The Dr. Steel Show Episode 2 is animated this way.
    "God, you're weird."
  • The Barbie Liberation Organization, an anonymous group of people who switched the voice boxes of Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe figures, used this in their VHS press release to have a Barbie doll explain the organization's mission of weakening the prevalence of gender stereotypes in children's media.
  • Crash Course: John & Hank will occasionally superimpose their lips onto the mouths of famous scientists and historical figures.
  • The videos for DeStorm's "The Annoyed Objects" series use this.
  • The final episode of Feed Dump used a weird live-action variant, superimposing Ian's mouth on Beej's face.
  • On TikTok, the creator iFluent uses this with countries, who talk to each other about the quirks of their languages.
  • In the Jacksfilms video "Kermit Sings", the animation on Kermit abruptly shifts into this whenever he decides to berate "Billy" (a child whose real name is Jason).
  • The intro to this episode of the Kentucky Ballistics YouTube channel parodies this, superimposing cutouts of the host's eyes and mouth over his shoulder and wrist, complaining about the weapons he's considering using in the video. The intro ends with a similar cutout over his foot, crying after he remembers to bring along an eggplant.Background
  • Markiplier plays this for especially comical effect by attaching this technique to cats and dogs of all things. You can add cows to the list.
  • The Nostalgia Critic unleashes Synchro-Vox on the trains of Thomas & Friends to criticize the fact that the mouths of the trains don't move.
  • StacheBros: In "Yoshi The Good Dinosaur", this effect is used in a zoom-in on Luigi's mouth after Yoshi suggests that scientists should get their research of him by examining his droppings.
  • A series of educational VHS tapes called "Standard Deviants" use this in some of their animated clips.
  • For the episode ending animation in their Let's Play of Resident Evil 7, Two Best Friends Play depicted Pat like this.
  • Têtes à claques (a.k.a. CLAC), in a fashion almost identical to The Annoying Orange, though it predates it.
  • Used by What If? in "What If Presents: The Solar System Song".

    Western Animation 
  • The only company to seriously use the technique, Cambria Productions, used it to produce three "animated" series: Clutch Cargo (1959-60), Space Angel (1962) and Captain Fathom (1965). Eventually, even they abandoned the technique: their final project, the cartoon segments of The New Three Stooges (1965-66), did not use it, with the studio shutting down shortly after.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Club", the Reject Club made a fake video of Gumball confessing to a bunch of embarrassing things. It consists of a poorly drawn picture of Gumball with a superimposed, live-action mouth wearing braces.
    • "The Treasure" had live-action eyes superimposed on Gumball's face when he suddenly realizes he was a hypnotist in a past life.
  • The children's show Dirtgirlworld uses this technique combined with CG imagery.
  • On Clarence, the principal of Clarence's school is depicted this way with only the lower half of his face visible.
  • Used in the Class of 3000 episode "Nothin' to It But to Do It" in the music video "Clean Up".
  • This technique has been used in Courage the Cowardly Dog, though unlike some of the other examples here "comedic" isn't what they were going for. For example, the Magic Tree of Nowhere.
  • Parodied mercilessly in one episode of Eek! The Cat, where a 'customized' video of the Squishy Bearz uses this to insert Eek's name in the characters' dialogue (in the least-convincing way). Eek is enchanted nevertheless.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Seahorse Seashell Party", Brian uses psychedelic mushrooms and has terrifying images. When Stewie tries to comfort him, Brian then hallucinates Stewie having this styled mouth.
  • One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy briefly used this on Mandy. It also applied this to Billy's new eyes at the end of the episode "My Peeps".
  • Knuckleheads practically RUNS on this trope, with pretty much every character's mouth and eyes being synchro voxed in.
  • In the 1992 Looney Tunes short "Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers", clone!Daffy has this for a brief moment. It's extremely creepy. In fact, it may be one of the creepiest Looney Tunes cartoons.
  • Robot Chicken did a similar take with a late-night host making fun of Emperor Palpatine. Suffice to say, the Emperor doesn't have much of a sense of humor.
  • In The Simpsons episode "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Marge", Marge is declared insane. On the "Krusty the Clown Show" Krusty does Conan O'Brien's bit with an image of Marge with Sideshow Mel's mouth crudely superimposed. "She" responds to Krusty's question of who her favorite Native American warrior is with "Crazy Horse". Krusty realizes the bit is getting old and calls for the Mad Marge dancersnote .
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Used in the opening with "Painty the Pirate", who starts the theme song. Noteworthy in that the still image is a painting of a realistic human being, which greatly reduces the Unintentional Uncanny Valley effect which normally plagues instances of this trope.
    • Also used in the episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy VI: The Motion Picture", where SpongeBob was discussing actors in the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy movie.
    • The hot sauce drop in "Karate Choppers", which is the whole face instead of just the mouth.
    • In "Moving Bubble Bass", when SpongeBob and Patrick find out that Bubble Bass ate the free lunches he promised to give to them for moving his stuff while they were doing said task, Patrick angrily walks up to Bubble Bass, and this happens:
      Patrick: If my friend SpongeBob doesn't get his free lunch, (sudden live-action face closeup) THINGS ARE GONNA GET CRAZY.
  • Teen Titans Go! has "Secrets of Eternity" which had the Titans hamming up soap opera tropes while their lips have the same hairy mustache man.
  • The facial animations of Tigtone use a Spiritual Successor to this process, warping 2D digital art around motion capture of the voice actors' faces. Played for all the Stylistic Suck it's worth.


President Dad

A variant was shown in an episode "President Dad" involves Dad's lips moving over a portrait of Brak's mom complete with Dad's imitation of her

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SynchroVox

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