View Full Version : Bones for Facial Animation (messiah style)

05 May 2003, 03:28 AM
I know there's been a lot of talk about facial rigging on this forum.

But does anyone know of any actal resources and tutorials that cover using bones for facial animation (especially messiah style).
I mainly use XSI, but I can't even find tuts that cover this for any 3d app. As then I could atleast transfer the technique to XSI.

The only thing I've been able to find are example videos of facial rigs in action in Messiah and XSI. Which really doesn't explain much.

So if anyone can shed some light on this, I would be extremely greatful. :thumbsup:


05 May 2003, 11:43 AM
Doesn't sound that difficult. You can just build Joints at places that must deform. And then carefully tweak the influence of those bones. I only think that it would not be possible to animate all the facial animation with this method.

:: Galactor ::

05 May 2003, 09:47 PM
Yeah, i wish i could find better resources myself.

I know of three approaches (not using a muscle system that ive heard about big companies using)

Im a Maya user, but something is better than nothing....

First is blend shapes.... which dont really sound good to me. First, i dont wanna do all that modeling... the animation doesnt look right.... and it sounds restrictive (or overwhelming) to animate.

Second, i found a PDF that talks about making the face live. drawing curves (for muscle lines) on the object, and then animating the curves to influence the face.

Third, this one I've used for simple facial animation. Basicly its a facial rig.
here's a link to my description of the process.

any crits are appreciated.


05 May 2003, 04:58 AM
This was a maya tutorial on bone facial setups. Maybe it will help.
Cane Toad Tutorials (

05 May 2003, 05:18 AM
Thanks for the replies guys.

galactor: yeah unfortunately it's not that simple, from what I've seen\heard some bones are deformers and some not. Plus u have other things like scaling the length of certain bones as u rotate\translate them, plus multiple pivot points for some bones. Yeah you could just do a simple straight up bone setup for the face. But I'm really looking for the indepth way of doing it, and I'd rather go off a existing way that is known to work, instead of me doing it by trial and error :(

Doogie: Yeah, I've been using a mixture of shape animation and enveloped curves for facial animation, but I'm not happy with it and now I'm trying to find out all about the bone approach too. :shrug:

jadamburke: HEHEHE yeah I'm friends with the guys who did that animation :)
Have u seen the full animation? It's damn awesome, and funny too ;)
Yeah I've been talking to them and they just made up their own simple way of using bones for facial animation, as they had the same problem of having almost no resources on the subject. I might look at their way again, it's just that their approach was a bit different and simple compared to what I've seen in Messiah and XSI.

Thanks guys :thumbsup:

06 June 2003, 11:31 PM
I used bones for facial with Cinema 4D, it was a breeze, just stick bones under the face and make sure you set the influences right (happens on the vertex level in C4D, 0 - 100% influcence). Only drawback is that a lot of bones really slow down the overall animatability of your character. Now I do blendshapes, much easier.

06 June 2003, 11:16 AM
Hello AcidBoy

I'm writing a tutorial tonight (or during this weekend) about muscle bones in Softimage|XSI.

You can see these two avi's in the meantime

best regards

.stefan andersson

06 June 2003, 11:32 AM
SWEET! Thanks soooo much Stefan :applause:

I see you on the softimage XSI mail list :thumbsup:
(name's Bradley Kachel)

Saw that u just posted those avi's there too. :)
......and mentioned about doing the tut

Yeah let us know when ya finished.

Will you also be discussing putting such bones in the face too?
It would be really great even if you could briefly touch on the subject on how to approach using such bones in the face.


06 June 2003, 11:36 AM
we'll see :) I might just do a quick guide for it, or placing them on a face. Depends on how much I can squeeze in this weekend.

best regards

.stefan andersson

06 June 2003, 02:30 PM
as promised first tutorial is up check the tutorials section.

This one is for the arm and I'm writing the mouth/face part now.

best regards

.stefan andersson

06 June 2003, 10:12 PM
second tutorial also in place now. It was a rush thing I did so I hope you all can overlook the bad model and that there might be misspellings here and there....

best regards

.stefan andersson

06 June 2003, 06:11 AM
Thanks Stefan :thumbsup:

Yeah no sweat with the model, better off being that way.
Makes it easier to see what's going on :)

You kept it nice and simple and gave me a really great starting point to take it further in my own rigs.

In the first tut you mentioned that you would cover 'bulging' of the bones in the second tut.
Did u forget to cover that, as it's not in the facial bones tut (2nd tut)
.......Or is there another tut to come?

Cheers :thumbsup:

06 June 2003, 06:18 AM
there is another one comming. I meant a second tutorial for the arm.. my bad.

best regards

.stefan andersson

06 June 2003, 06:21 AM
:eek: Damn! That was one fast reply man ;)

Cool, looking forward to it.


06 June 2003, 06:23 AM
I just woke up and checked the posting... had no idea you just replyed also :)

Check in on the IRC channel #charactersetup and #xsi to have a chat with us online users. I also hangaround in #cg-char



06 June 2003, 10:19 AM
there is scripts out there that allow a lot more realistic facial animation setup using blendshapes. its made to pretty much mimic what is used at WETA on gollum. the only problem you might have is that mayas modelling tools are rather limiting for this. so you might have to use some other modelling tool to generate the actual shapes. but once youve done your shapes/combination shapes. then you use these scripts to have your own gollum in a box :)

it does require more work on your part. but the results are a LOT better than using deformers...lattices.. etc..etc.. since you can get really subtle details in your morphs.

information on how to use it can be found here.

on the other hand. theres news/rumor of a new set of plugins comming out for maya that deal with nla animation/facial animation. etc. named bodytools. seems like like another proprietaty tool much like messiah was[1].jpg

06 June 2003, 12:42 PM
Looks very interesting. I personaly like shape animation much better than the 'messiha' approach. I rather model more facial expressions than using deform objects.

Deform object also takes up a lot of your time while doing rigging. My personal opinion is that it's to much of unecessary work getting all those weights to work. And with shape animation you also have a much better control over the expressions (since you can model in certain features).

Thanks for the links! I'll see how I can replicate this in Softimage|XSI (but first I need to play a little with the new 3.5 version... whohoooo!).

best regards

.stefan andersson

Mike RB
06 June 2003, 03:07 AM
Wow, that looks cool, finally a hirez screen grab. Martin, what else do you know about it?


06 June 2003, 11:17 AM
I can only second Martin and suggest that everyone at least reads the stuff about combination sculpting - it may get your brain working on it and result in other ideas too.

The technique itself - not unlike the xdugef method ;) - is pretty cool and is a nice compromise. What I mean is that it has pros:
- absolute control over how the face looks, all the time
- relatively small number of animation controls
- great interactivity and fast animation workflow
But the con is that you pretty much have to model hundreds, maybe even thousands of corrective blendshapes. Not something that any studio could afford.

And the other con might be that the workflow is really the best in Mirai, but I'm not sure that having to use a new 1.5 release would be that hard to endure :)

07 July 2003, 09:57 PM
Dear Stefan, just loadedup your face tute file, looks good, do you you know of any other xsi tutorials in this area, thanks

Matt Leishman
07 July 2003, 10:44 PM
hey ambient,
you don't happen to know if there is another mirror for those files you posted links to earlier do you? I realize that they weren't posted by you originally on spiraloid, but I'd really like to check them out. the website seems to be down at the moment. If anyone has access to those files, i'd sure 'preciate some sharing - thanx.

07 July 2003, 05:15 AM
here ya go :) I will host these until Daniel Pook-Kolb gets his files back online.


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