Facial bones

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  09 September 2003
Facial bones


I'm new at animation and have been reading threads regarding the advantages of different approaches to facial animation. Right now I'm working in MotionBuilder as my only 3d programme that allows animation and my only option I believe is to use bones to drive groups of vertices (since I don't have the ability to create blendshapes/morph targets.) I've seen a good article on the system used for The Getaway (http://www.3dgate.com/techniques/20...09moore_01.html). I haven't been able to find much else specifically on possible skeleton hierarchies for the face and the way different branches would be scaled, translated and/or rotated. Does anybody have any information on this that might be helpful?

Thanks in advance.

  09 September 2003
Thanks for the link

IŽll be of good use.
Pierre Schiller
3D Compositor/Animator

VFX Reel
  09 September 2003
Take a look at this link, it also has some useful facial rig information.


If you're really interested in facial animation, I recomend that you read Jason Osipa's book called Stop Starring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right. I found it incredibly helpful as it goes into rich detail in the modeling, riggging, and animation phases. While this book focuses on blend shapes, it does have a section geared towards using joints for those situations blend shapes don't work.


I don't have too much to add regarding bone setups. I built one once based on the information from the cane-toad's website, but I never got a chance to skin the character, so I can't really go into much there.

Hope you find the links useful though, and good luck.
Jared Hromika

To me Autokey is like soggy cereal. Sure it's more convenient because you don't have to chew it, but..... ewww. - Keith Lango
  09 September 2003

Thanks for the suggestions. I'd seen reference to the book before and am intending to buy it. With that and the other links I'll give it a go. I think ultimately the skin weighting is going to be my biggest problem since Motion Builder's tool isn't as developed as some others.

Thanks again.

  09 September 2003
I'm also interested in facial rigging, but I haven't been ble to find any tutorials for 3dsmax on this subjects (or maybe there only is more general tutorials on this?). If anyone knows a good link that would be great!
  10 October 2003
I've tried two methods in max,

one way is the method presented in The Getaway and in the Unreal Dev Network. This way is the most flexible since you can control every point, but you really have to keep everything under control or the mesh starts bulging, or tearing apart.

a second way is lining the facial features with bones. bones that follow the contour of the lips, bones along the eyebrows. I like this method because you can IK it, and features remain properly bouncy, but it isn't as flexible as the first method.

I'll try to draw out the heirarchies, but I'm no authority on this or anything. I'm just exploring it like you guys. and of course, I'm doing it for games. but i hear HL2 uses blend shapes now? oh well...

Using the second method:
It's got to be more than a memory, or is life just a fantasy and a piss in the sand?

Last edited by chrisdejoya : 10 October 2003 at 08:44 AM.
  10 October 2003

Thanks for the comments Snowfly. I look forward to any other comments you might have. I am new at this, have been looking at the Getaway bone structure and trying to use a variation of this in MotionBuilder. I'm not really clear on the difference between this and the second method you mentioned. Any references or elaboration you could provide yourself on this would be appreciated. It's a work in progress for me but one I'm sure I'll be working on for some time.

  10 October 2003

You asked about specific transformations on bones in the Getaway skeleton setup. You should aim to keep the number of tansforms on a given bone to a minimum; it's actually possible to make the Getaway rig work using only scaleX (along the joint axis) and rotateX or rotateZ. The less data to export to the ps2, the better.

If you want more info on the rig, give me a shout.
David Smith

My Site (finally up and running)
  10 October 2003
Hi sasquatch,

Thanks for the tips. I've got enough info to keep me busy at this point based on some articles and your comments (I was obviously trying more transforms than I needed). I'd love to get more info on the rig but will try on my own for a while so my questions might be a little more focused.

Thanks again

  01 January 2006
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