What Process for animating faces. Any Tips'n'Tricks ???

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  09 September 2003
What Process for animating faces. Any Tips'n'Tricks ???

Hi all... I'm soon going to do som facial animation...

As you know when animation the body, you animate from the hips and outward...

But whatabout facial animation, how do you handle that???

Do you make it pose to pose or du you start with the emotions first and then the speak after.. or do you doit revers????

Hope that there is some animators out there that know how to do or know what the big studios does...

Martin Andersen
Website www.3d-designer.dk
  09 September 2003
Jason Osipa's book on facial modeling and animation, Stop Staring was just recently published. I've browsed through it briefly at a local bookstore, and it looks very promising. Possibly worth your while to see if it answers your question.

In the meantime, Angie Jones has compiled a very useful collection of facial animation tips on her Spicy Cricket website: http://www.spicycricket.com/SCA/SCA_anim_facial.html
  09 September 2003
dont know what other people do but i tend to treat the lipsync and other facial aniamtion as seperate things so i would go through and get the mouth doing what i wanted to fit the speach (forgetting any emotions) and then go on to animate the rest when I'm happy with that. it just makes it a little easier to get things working the way you want as you are breaking it down into small little chunks. because all the face animation i do is based around blend shapes, you can layer the emotions/ blinking/whatever over the top, it's up to you as to what order.

there's a lot about facial animation in the illusion of life. a few things i've learned is that you can do a lot with the eyes. use your characters eyes to show that he is thinking and THAT drives his emotions. DONT make him change eotion unless he has thought about it and you can visibly seen the change in his eyes. of course, you can delay the eyes till after the face changes in some cases for a different effect, but form what i've seen, the eyes tell you what the character is thinking - 'a window into the soul' if you like.

another thing to note is that you WILL NOT see the emotion change if it happens during a fast movement of the body or head, so make sure you watch that, only try to change expressions when the head is relatively still or the audience will have a hard time reading the change. of course, this isn't a law or anything, just a guildeline which you might want to break every so often.

and my final tip is DONT MAKE IT MUSHY. dont have a face that is constantly flowing from one expression to another with so-called 'floaty' animation. it is much better to hold an expression for a period of time so the audience can read it and understand what is going on, it makes the work a bit more defined. it's basically what people might call a 'moving hold' but done with the face. if the face is all mushy and going from sad to happy to angry to scared weithout pausing on the different expression the audience will wonder what on earth is going on. so set your keys for the happy face and then copy those keys 12 frames later (or how ever long you want it to be) and adjust them slightly so the face drifts a little and doesn't look wooden and stiff and you should be ok.

hope this helps!
Andy Davies Animator | Sudeki (xbox)
  09 September 2003
Good advice adavies.

As you say the eyes are everything! Not so long a go I needed to do some crude facial animations and I started roughing my facial animation by just concentrating on key areas such as the brows and the Jaw, treating them as my foundations for the rest of my chacters face.

It also depends how your character is setup are you using morph targets/blend shapes or are they boned up?

Also to Concur with adavies with his final tip, the same rule applies to Lip sync, you need to pause for certain phonemes so the audience can read them.
  01 January 2006
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