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facial expressions

facial expressions

Facial Expressions Using Blend Shapes

A 3D character can be somewhat boring without facial expressions, however, choosing to animate a model with dynamic expressions will bring a character to life.

Facial Expression Capture, 3d scans3d scan head3d scan expressions

When working with blend shapes, you begin with a neutral pose that is then morphed into each expression. The blend shapes themselves need to have the same vertex point order and vertex count as your neutral model to make them work correctly. There are many expressions to take into consideration, in fact, the FACS System has approximately 72 expressions with ones as minute as raising an eyebrow. However, it only takes among 30 to 40 expressions to make a static performance come alive.

Nicks Facial Expressions

The many faces of Founder, Nick Tesi.

Check out these two clips of facial motion capture in action:

Facial Motion Capture – video 1

Facial Motion Capture – video 2

When starting down the road of expressions, make sure to figure out as much information as possible as to what your needs are and what the cost will be. Normally, cost is calculated per second as there are 24 to 30 frames per second. Typically a clip can run anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, so you can see how the price can get away from you quickly. This is not a service to be taken lightly.


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Scanning for Facial Expressions

How important are facial expressions when 3D scanning a character? It may seem easy, but are we ever truly aware of what our face is doing when we are experiencing an emotion? What does a genuine sad face look like, or a happy face or an angry face? From time to time we are asked to capture facial expressions during a 3d scanning session, and thinking about the above questions, you can imagine how this task can become challenging. Furthermore, if the expressions are not previously selected, the talent is at odds as to which pose should be captured.

Viking_3d scanning_facial expressions

We’ve come up with a couple of solutions that we know can provide a smoother, more efficient session not only for us, but for the talent.

Solution #1

Review the scene that is calling for the emotion and create a list of possible expressions the character can portray to deliver a believable scene. You can also prerecord the talent acting out the scene to get a better picture as to which emotions you will need.

facial expressions, 3d scanning, viking

Solution #2

Create a list of common expressions/emotions your projects tend to use that you can provide to the talent and/or 3D scanning technician each time facial expression capture is needed.

These tips are simple and easy to implement. They may seem minor and commonsense, but in our experience working in this business, we have found that every little bit helps.


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tng vfx locations

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Tips on 3D Scanning

3D Scanning is great for facial expressions. To use these, each scan needs to have the same poly count and point order of the last scan, also known as blend shapes. Here are some before and after images that we’ve worked on in the past.
Facial Expression Capture, 3d scans3d scan expressions

3D Scanning is also great for creating a digital copy of any vehicle that needs to be used in a commercial or  film. Most scanners will not scan a shiny object or window, therefore you will need to prepare the car. Most times a good coat of wax will let you get the data you need and you can cover the windows with paper or another material to give you a surface to re-project the tinted class for the area. You will also need to either tape or wax all the chrome. One last tip is to mark the cars. You may find a lot of flat areas that will not stitch together and the markers give you point of reference.

chevelle, 3d scan, vehicle scan, lidar scan

If you’re thinking about using a 3D scanning service bureau for your next project, we have lots of experience and can help you find a good deal, or do the service ourselves. We’ll leave you with a little quote from Bob Maowad, “Help others get ahead. You will always stand taller with someone else on your shoulders.”


Where is your closest location?

tng vfx locations

We welcome your feedback! Comment on our blog or visit our Facebook page.