Creating and animating avatars

Hi, I am looking into creating avatars (not 3d photo characters like crazy talk etc.) for our instructors. The avatars should be able to animate like reading, blinking, hand gestures, etc... I would really appreciate if someone would like to share some ideas, software, or applications that can do this. 

Some application I found has their own avatars or characters. But I would like to create new characters or avatars using our instructor's faces. 

Thanks for sharing your best practices. 



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