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Thread: Character Facial Animation Experimentation

  1. #1
    Dimension the Third voriax's Avatar
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    Character Facial Animation Experimentation

    Hum, I don't think I've ever posted in the WIP forum, but I thought this was interesting enough for it.

    A while back I was bored, so modeled a random ugly humanoid(ish) head. Last couple of days I've had some time so started experimenting with facial rigs, trying to achieve something like you'd see come out of Maya or even Blender. Obviously LW has nothing resembling facial rig setups from other software packages..

    So this is the result; a face rig using bones and IK booster. No morph targets. Clicking and dragging to move bits. I think it's been done before in LW, but not often (you can't animate characters in LW, right? :P).
    I don't know how manageable it would be integrated with a full character body - this test is just a head and neck. Shouldn't be too much of a problem though.

    I wasn't going to go too far with it, thinking it wasn't flexible enough to really do anything, but I figured I'd give a quick lipsync test a go and it came out fairly good.

    The file HeadRigTest.mov is a jumble of little anims put together as the rig was taking shape, the file Twas_A_Little_Weird.mov is the lipsync test. Very short lipsync test, only a few seconds of audio. Hope the files work, I don't have much experience with encoding .mov's. Oh, it was rendered in 9.5 but doesn't use anything that isn't already in 9.3.

    Apologies to anyone who hates Bee Movie or Jerry Seinfeld.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Member sammael's Avatar
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    Looks good mate, nice job!

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    looking pretty good. Especially for a first attempt.

    Could you give a little info on how you've set up the rig. - like where you've placed the bones and if you've used weight-maps at all.

    Anyone got any opinions on the pros and cons of working with a skeletal face rig vs. using morphs of different expressions/phonemes?

  4. #4
    Dimension the Third voriax's Avatar
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    The bones are just set up to move the skin as it would move on a face with a skeleton structure under it. ie, for the lips, the anchor of the bones are in the middle of the mouth, so the skin can move around the teeth as the bone rotates. Eyes and eyelids are controlled by bones with anchors in the centre of the eyeball.

    Definately using weight maps, but they're overlapping each other in places to give a smoother look. It's all really simple, just takes effort to set up.

    Bones vs morphs. Hmm. Well, bones give a lot more control, for example the lip synching is done "on the fly" and so you don't get repetitive mouth shapes from pre-set morphs. Downside of that is it's not just pulling a slider to get the shape - you have to make the shape each time. I guess you could use saved poses or whatever, but I don't know how to do that in IK boost (yet).

    Secondly, morphs use linear deformation on points. For example, the opening and closing of the eyelids done using morphs would not give a very realistic movement of the eyelid going over the eye - it would linearly move the points rather than the curved motion required. Same goes for mouth moves, if you use some extreme facial expressions, morph targets wouldn't do a great job.

    I really like the natural effect, and easier workflow, from using bones. If you want to create a new expression, you do it on the spot and tweak it as much as you like. You don't have to take the model back into modeler, set the new expression, etc etc.

  5. #5
    Profesor Pixel Poo Mr Rid's Avatar
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    You're hired.
    "O K, so what's the speed of dark?"

    Demo reel 2017
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOOixvRhcs4

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Rid View Post
    You're hired.
    :agree:

    Voriax, do you mind sharing these videos and your techniques and setups over on this IK Boost Tips and Tricks Thread?

    Would be much appreciated.

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    I particularly like the yawn at the end of the first vid.

  8. #8
    Dimension the Third voriax's Avatar
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    Thanks guys.. I've been playing with it a bit today tweaking it here and there, trying different combos with weighting and bone placement, and adding bones to control more facial features.
    Did a few tests of `emotion shots', angry, thoughtful, worried, etc. It's getting faster and easier to get nice deformation and emotive-ness. This will definately become my primary way of doing facial deforms from now on..

    Will post some more shots in here tomorrow, and maybe some screenshots to explain how it was acheived. It is a pretty simple setup in the end.

  9. #9
    Dimension the Third voriax's Avatar
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    Desc and screenshots:

    Basically the bones controlling the lips are single bones radiating outward from inside the mouth. Means when you rotate the bones sideways, the lips move in an arc around the teeth. IK boost lets you click and drag the controller sideways and it rotates the bone for you. Eye controls are pretty straightforward, as is the rest of it. All lower lips and tongue bones are parented to the jaw, the jaw and the rest of the floating bones are parented to an overall head controller bone.

    My setup looks a bit messy from the outset, but it makes sense when you're doing it. Using IKboost to pull out the controllers, and being able to grab'n'drag to rotate the bones makes face poses really simple.

    Attached is the setup with a description of what the jumble of circles are, and the long pic is a few different 'emotions' that were thrown together literally in seconds. I emphasise seconds because it shows just how versatile it can be. Look at the controllers for the lips and you can see how easy it is to get a nice mouth shape by just dragging the controllers into place. Emotions are worried, happy, maniacal (of course), thoughtful and angry.

    This is my first bone-rigged head so it's still being tweaked, adding more controls here and there to adjust little features, etc.. It may be able to be done simpler than this...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10
    Super Member SplineGod's Avatar
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    Nice Job! Heres something I did quite awhile ago that shows the concept using IKB as well.
    http://www.3dtrainingonline.com/examples/face_rig.mov

  11. #11
    Dimension the Third voriax's Avatar
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    Yeah I remember seeing that vid a long time ago, but never really tried it until recently. I notice yours has an extra bone at the end of the lip bones, I'm guessing to control curling? I was considering that but haven't had a chance to play with mine today.. It's fun, all this learning as you go along

  12. #12
    Super Member SplineGod's Avatar
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    Cant remember what that was for.
    I plan to try it using the new joints since they also work with IKB.
    Another thing I want to do is use corrective morphs tied to the actions of specific bones. I also want to see what I can do with booster link to control groups of bones that way (its kind of a set driven key function in IKB). Also being able to save,copy,mirror, paste poses and motions from the whole face or various parts make it a powerful system.

  13. #13
    NewTek Developer jameswillmott's Avatar
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    The awesome thing about IKB is you just click-drag to move bones/controllers so it's fast to repose, compared with LW's click-wait-click-drag workflow...
    LightWave3D training, assets, news and discussion at www.liberty3d.com
    My opinions are my own and do not represent the opinions of any other entity, Liberty3D is not officially endorsed by NewTek.

  14. #14
    Dimension the Third voriax's Avatar
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    Heh, all that goes straight over my head at the moment. I'm still an IK boost newbie pretty much, so click and drag is all I can do for now. It has so much potential though, shame it's taken so long for it to become more "main stream" in LW's usage.

  15. #15
    luxowaver silviotoledo's Avatar
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    So amazing! deformations looks a bit natural!

    Can you explain a little more about it? Bones wires images?

    Why IK boost and not joints?

    Tutorial pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    Silvio Toledo
    Brazil

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