Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto (facial character animation)
Here’s a quick update. These past couple of weeks I’ve been mostly working on character-related stuff for Enola, so I’m taking some time away from working on environments and levels.
When I started working on games, I had this idea that one day I’d like to use Softimage Facerobot for facial character animation, but I ‘d never had the chance to do it. The characters currently in Enola have a very simple facial rig (and their faces aren’t even animated at the moment), but I decided that needed to change. After all, technology is only good if you use it (and I happen to have Softimage as well).
Anyway, basically Softimage Facerobot takes a head and uses some sort of skin solver to add natural skin movement to the face (after you have set up the entire thing, of course). Facerobot was made for facial capture, but you can also keyframe-animate the facial features. It also has a lip-sync module that automatically animates the mouth.
Facerobot faces can only be used in Softimage, so if you want to use them in applications like Maya, or even game engines, you need to export the face. For games, Facerobot allows you to export as a bones-animated face. I can take that face and send it to Maya so I can attach it to the body (it sounds simpler than it actually is…). Obviously, it also exports the animation.
This is still a work in progress, so I have no animations yet. I should have an animation test by the end of the week, rendered in UDK, of course. Animated characters in Enola should look fairly nice now.
In the meantime, I thought I could show you how the character is looking inside the engine: