View Full Version : 2D Facial Animation on 3D Character (HELP)

04 April 2008, 01:28 AM
Okay, so I've been trying for months to come up with a way to create a facial animation set up either using triggers or sliders or some sort of interface that will allow me to smoothly animate a face that doesn't deform the shape of the head.

Essentially the problem I'm having is that using textures to make the animated transition from each facial position to the next doesn't give me a smooth transition. It jumps... even with a tween position.

What I would like to do is set up something that looks like standard cluster based facial rigs allowing me to create triggers that will let me set the facial pose and then adjust the transition to make it look more natural. So far, anything I come up with doesn't allow for the fine tuning or deforms the mesh of the face.

If you still don't quite understand what I'm getting at, let me explain this another way.

I have a character whose head is a beachball. Her face doesn't change the shape of the beachball at all, but it can move and change shape on the surface so that it moves when she talks, smiles, blinks, expresses herself. The face is a very simplified and cartoon style face similar to Oswald Bunny or Mickey mouse.

Does anyone have any ideas or know of any solutions that might allow me to finish this charater set up without making my excess work load too much? I am using Maya2008, Z-Brush, and Photoshop CS3. Anything you can suggest that's quick and easy to test would be most appreciated. I'll even throw down screen credit when I finish the short. Thanks.


04 April 2008, 03:37 AM
I think using animated textures is the way to go, so you have to sit doen and worked out the face animation first, nail it down before animating the ball shape gestures.

So yes you need to do those textues on per shot basis.

If you are rigger GOD of course there is always a way to set up textures with sliders but all I can think of doing that is nightmares and headaches with very little joy.

04 April 2008, 12:49 AM
Thank you, I knew this was a possibility but I'm just not sure how fluid the transitional animation will be changing from one texture map to another. I've seen the effect I'm trying to create before in animation, but I am not sure how it was achieved and for some reason it doesn't seem like it was done with animated texture maps.

I was considering using the texture and influence objects to move a normal map, but I think this will result in serious deformations that I don't want. I was also thinking of using normal maps as blendshapes and setting up controls that way, but I'm not entire sure how a normal map will be effected without actually effecting the geometry of an object and again, creating deformations that I don't want.

As for the actual set up, if I have to use the texutre maps then I am going to set up mel scripted triggers for the pheonyms and and then a subset for tweens and one more for expressions. The problem here is that it adds about three weeks to my production since I'm the only one doing character set up and this system has to be perfect.

Thank you again, but if anyone else has some ideas or suggestions then please let me know. I appreciate the help.


05 May 2008, 12:53 PM
create a scene the shapes of your face's flat animated features (eyes mouth etc) as a completely flat rig in maya, like southpark- flat shapes but rigged for animation. keep it all completely flat.

you can rig it however you want, im not going to get into that detail, the interesting challenge to me is just how to get the animation onto your baloon :)

so then use your flat face scene to make the facial ANIMATION using mayas animation tools and your rig, render that animation out from a camera pointed straight on it, and use the render as an animated texture map in your final shot applied to your character model.

you can even set up the body and the face rig in the same scene if you want to work on it at the same time.

the only catch is, you will still have to render the face out every time you want to see it update on the final model. so there is a bit less perfect interactivity than a "normal" rig. but a totally flat rig should render in realtime or faster to generate the texture map then you just refresh the texture applied to the object to see it, so its not going to make it too much work. if you are interested in scripting things it should be easy to make an automatic update the face texture button, just make sure to render the face rig from a dedicated camera that you freeze the position of so the texture always lines up :)

for get about rigging textures to create "animation" by changing texture frames with a parameter in maya- i have done it- it gives you interactivity of a sort but its not worth the hassle and its very hard to get fluid animation as you are stuck with a few drawings instead of the possibility to truly animate the face at 30 fps and make subtle expressions with the full range of mayas deformers, morphing ability etc.

good luck!

07 July 2008, 09:51 PM
Thank you all for your help.

We have a solution and it's actually similar to the one proposed by yenvalmar. First we have our 3D Model of the balloon and then we have the 3D model of the face. The face model is flat but set up just like a normal facial rig. In fact it is a full rig, just totally flat. Then we animate the face to the dialog and render it out with the facial features we want to be seen textured while the other parts are transparent and also have an alpha channel. Then we import the finished animation as a projection map and let it run the whole time through the film setting the breaks by scene and shot. It is a little more complicated but the solution is sound. Thanks again for all the helpful ideas.


CGTalk Moderation
07 July 2008, 09:51 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.