Faceware and delivering total reality
Today’s digital experiences have more visual fidelity than ever before—audiences are coming to expect ever more realistic faces, and they’re primed to notice flaws when they’re there. That’s why Faceware’s Analyzer and Retargeter software is designed to help achieve true-to-life capture at the pace of production, as Peter Busch explains…
How does Analyzer and Retargeter work to deliver a realistic final result?
Analyzer and Retargeter are our markerless facial tracking and animation tools. Once the facial motion capture video is shot, Analyzer is used to convert the video of the facial performance into facial motion files for use in Retargeter. Using the facial motion capture data from Analyzer, Retargeter applies the data onto any facial rig through a plug-in for Autodesk Maya 3ds Max and MotionBuilder. By combining the facial poses and high-quality movement data, Retargeter gives animators the control and flexibility needed for the creation of convincing facial animation.
What kind of nuances are these tools able to capture in an actor’s performance?
Our facial recognition technology is able to capture a great deal of nuances from the brows, to the eyes, nose, cheeks, and mouth by tracking textures and features in order to create highly detailed output. This enables our software to handle anything from stylized to photo-real characters. Together with other features like timecode support, capture, trimming, pose libraries, and a technological core drawing from over 10,000 minutes of facial performance data and users in almost 50 countries, Analyzer and Retargeter are the most powerful tools available for facial animation.
What subtleties are incredibly important in a facial performance when it comes to delivering reality?
In facial animation a realistic rendering of the entire face is important, but the eyes help bring out the emotion and believability in any performance. Our advanced pixel-tracking technology provides extremely accurate eye and gaze tracking, further reducing the barrier between your performance actor and their digital counterpart, providing the most realistic animation possible.
How fast are these tools? Can they deliver efficient results at a fast turnaround?
All of our tools are designed to work at the speed of production. We recently worked with EA to improve their batch processing and create an automated pipeline, enabling them to produce an average of 30-45,000 seconds of animation per month.
What are normally the biggest challenges you face when building a realistic CGI face?
A major challenge for facial motion capture and animation is consistency among a large team of animators. The final result should be fluid and look as if it were created by one skilled animator. To manage the realities of production environments, we’ve created features in our Retargeter 5.0 Studio Plus software that enable your team to work as one. Animators can create centralized Shared Pose libraries to ensure that every pose is created the exact same way, regardless of the animator. We’ve also enabled users to access our entire library of commands, allowing technical artists to create entirely automated pipelines. This allows you to maximize facial animation output and take advantage of your computer’s processing time, not your artists’ time.
Are Faceware tools easy for animators to learn, navigate and use?
Our software is designed by animators for animators. It’s simple and easy to understand, yet fully featured and capable of performing extremely complex, believable facial animation. No other software offers region-based control with facial movements, meaning each emoting area (the eyes, the brows, the mouth, etc.) are all separate entities. This independent control provides an unparalleled degree of precision, delivering a higher level of detail and realism.
What are some of the most useful features in Faceware when constructing a true-to-life face?
Our software takes the stress out of the facial animation process. With Retargeter, manual keyframe changes and polishing are things of the past, and data is applied quickly so iterations are fast and efficient. Intelligent keyframe reduction (pruning), animation smoothing, a master timing tool, and several other features make working with the data very easy. Our workflow and software was designed by animators in real-world production so that the software is easy to use, intuitive, and guaranteed to work every time.
How important is using a headset when capturing facial movements? How does this affect the applications of Faceware?
Using a quality, professional headcam is incredibly important. If the facial motion capture data is low quality, then all resulting facial animation will also be of lower quality. As such, capturing crystal clear video is ideal for both animator reference and for facial motion capture tracking with Faceware Analyzer. With this in mind, Faceware Headcam Systems are designed using over a decade of industry experience to capture and render high-quality facial movement data.