Published on Thursday, 07 June 2012
Faceware Technologies has developed a 3D facial animation tool suite to capture, analyze
and create realistic facial performances rapidly and at low cost.
|According to Faceware, facilities can use the software to help create realistic facial performances several times faster than by using hand keying and suits video game, film, television and commercial applications. The set of tools includes updated versions of the Faceware Head-Mounted Camera System, the Retargeter, and a new application, Faceware Analyzer.|
|By distributing all of the products as a suite that can be operated internally, the aim is to give studios control over their animation timeline and the potential to create better facial performances earlier in production. This suite follows the company’s research in computer vision techniques for facial and gesture recognition, and from experience providing facial animation services on projects such as ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’, ‘The Wolfman’, the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series, ‘Red Dead Redemption’, ‘Halo: Reach’ and others.|
|Marza Animation Planet said they have been using Faceware’s products to reduce costs by speeding up the animation process. Their animation team has been able to integrate the Faceware Retargeter and Head Mounted Cameras and transition to using them in production fairly smoothly, without too much effort.
The software and hardware covers the progressive steps in the facial animation process from video capture and performance analysis to facial animation creation. For capture, the head-mounted camera system or HMCS consists of a helmet, bracing, camera mount and camera, and works with motion capture suits. The captured facial video contains time code and other data to achieve a high level of performance fidelity. Now in its fifth generation, the HMCS can capture up to 7 million pixels per second. It is available for rent or purchase.
|Faceware Analyzer is new, designed to analyze facial performances captured with the HMCS or other device for a small processing fee only. The animator ‘trains’ Analyzer to learn about the actor’s specific appearance and performance, and uses that information to analyze each frame of the video. All tracking is handled on site, so no assets or data leave the studio. Once the shot is tracked, vision algorithms sort the data into parameters set up to examine the pixels of facial data in the performance and to create an Image Metrics Performance Data, or IMPD, file that can then be used in Faceware Retargeter.|
|The updated Faceware Retargeter is a free tool that takes the IMPD file created in Analyzer and transfers the data onto the 3D model. It creates the blocking of the animation and gives animators time to polish the performance with realistic facial movements. The Retargeter can be used on various types of facial rig, and plugs into software packages including Maya, 3ds Max, Softimage and MotionBuilder, letting the animator work in a familiar environment and workflow. Faceware Analyzer and Retargeter are free to evaluate and can be downloaded directly from Faceware’s website. www.facewaretech.com|