Faceware releases internal technologies as product suite

For the first time the facial animation software expert is offering all of its internal technologies as external product.

3D facial animation is considered the toughest part of creating realistic animation; the face is where we look first to try to understand a character. One of the leaders in software for 3D facial animation for several years has been Image Metrics, which earlier this year spun off its software development to a new company it created, Faceware Technologies of Santa Monica. Most of Faceware’s technology has only been available to film, TV, and video game developers as outsourced services from Image Metrics.

New Faceware Retargeter is a free tool that repurposes captured facial performances. (Source: Faceware Technologies).

This week Faceware launches most of its software as a suite for purchase. The Faceware Professional Product Line consists of completely updated versions of its Faceware Head-Mounted Camera System (HMCS) and Faceware Retargeter, and a brand new product called Faceware Analyzer. This marks the first time Faceware has offered all of its internal technologies for use in studios. Faceware claims the suite offers a low-cost, start-to-finish facial animation workflow to capture, analyze and create realistic facial performances 3-10x faster than hand keying the same performance.

The Faceware Professional Product Line has its roots in the company’s years of research in computer vision techniques in facial and gesture recognition, and from experience in providing facial animation services on notable projects including such films as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Wolfman; and video games including the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Redemption, Halo: Reach and others.

The Faceware Professional Product Line:

Capture: The Faceware Head-Mounted Camera System (HMCS) is a durable helmet, bracing, camera mount and camera, and works in tandem with motion capture suits to capture data-rich facial video complete with time code. Now in its 5th generation, the HMCS is capable of capturing up to 7 million pixels per second. It is available for rent or purchase.

Analyze: Faceware Analyzer allows customers to analyze facial performances captured with the Faceware HMCS or other video capturing technology for a small processing fee only. The animator “trains” Faceware Analyzer to learn about the actor’s specific appearance and performance, and the software uses that information to analyze every frame of the video. All tracking is handled on site, so no assets or IP leave the studio. Once the shot is tracked, computer vision algorithms parameterize the data to examine every pixel of facial data in the performance and to create an IMPD file that can then be used in Faceware Retargeter.

Faceware Analyzer processes raw captured facial movement data. (Soruce: Faceware Technologies).

Create: The updated Faceware Retargeter is a free tool that takes the IMPD file created in Analyzer and transfers the data onto the 3D model. With a newly designed front end and a handful of new features, Faceware Retargeter creates a more complete blocking of the animation and gives animators more time to polish the performance with realistic facial movements. Retargeter can be used on any type of facial rig, and plugs into many different 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. Both come with a free IMPD Performance Library and Rig Library, to help users get up to speed faster. The Faceware HMCS is available for rent or purchase.