The future of facial mo-cap?

Interesting article in Develop magazine arising from the rapid developments in motion capture (skip down to the second half of the interview). Actor Pascal Langdale is setting up a specialist facial emotion motion-capture library, Motives in Movement. He seems to be aiming at games developers that need branching facial reactions following a player’s choice(s) in the game-world.

“Ideally, however, you would look at an individual actor’s role in a piece beforehand, define the areas that could most likely be reused in the process of filming, and then record that library with that actor. The material is then ready to cut in to the main project.”

Sounds similar to DAZ’s aniMate AniBlock, which uses a mix and match and blend/morph approach. Quite how the actor’s trades union would respond to this I don’t know. Presumably they’d want cast-iron clauses in the contract that the data would be destroyed after the project was over, and not morphed, remixed or re-sold.

And I’m not sure if he fully realises what this implies, but the vision I had when reading this was that subtle facial motion-capture data could be lifted from any movie. Take out a video clip, use some complex maths to rectify the angle of the face so it’s more or less head on, place it over a semi 3D mesh, use face-detection methods to help place virtual dots at suitable points on the face, then play the clip and capture the expression as facial motion-capture. I would be able to capture, say, an exact sultry look of Greta Garbo in her (out-of-copyright) 1930s movies and then paste it onto a 3D virtual character in iClone. It wouldn’t need to be Avatar-perfect, just good enough to convey a subtle emotion.

[ Hat-tip for the link: Paumanok West ]

Sci-fi pack creature bases – how to re-scale?

The free Sci-fi pack’s battle-robot creature bases are very nice to have (2 Creature Bases + a Persona with sound effects + 6 walking iMotions). But they’re huge compared to the standard characters, and it seems they can’t be scaled down by more than 50 percent… it doesn’t seem I’m going to be able to fit three of them at the end of a corridor during a chase scene… without building a giant version of the set and green-screening the back-view of the characters.

Huge sci-fi freebies link-trove

Now that the big Reallusion Sci-fi Competition is officially on, here’s a compilation of all the sci-fi freebies links I’ve noted on the blog:

iClone Sci-Pack biped robot bone-rig.

Free WETA Raygun.

Get millions of free Spore creatures into iClone using 3DS Max.

Free Roboid robot character.

Blambot’s fab sci-fi style display fonts for quality movie-titles.

Free game footage: I suggested that the free open-source FreeSpace 2 and the playable demo of the indie/fan-project game Infinity could both be suitable hassle-free sources of videogame footage.

Mars in Google Earth, NASA photos archive, and the Hubble Space Observatory photos archive.

NASA 3D models.

Free steampunk steam-blimp.

Free sci-fi jumpgate model.

Free deep-space cryo-chamber and nurse-bot.

Mad tangles of sci-fi wires and tubes at the open source Elephant’s Dream models archive.

Technovelgy : an online encyclopaedia of 1,800+ SF concepts.

OpenGameArt’s sci-fi interiors pack, and all the free Miner Wars spaceship models.

Evil Force’s free particles and effects pack.

Old Time Radio sci-fi story broadcasts. Including stories by legendary sci-fi authors such as Ray Bradbury, Clifford D. Simak, Fritz Lieber, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, James Gunn, Robert Bloch, Robert Sheckley. Instant story, narration, pro voice-acting, music and sound FX! And all out of copyright! Torrent for the whole set of 126 shows.

2nd Annual iClone competition : Sci-Fi

Just announced…

“The Reallusion Sci-Fi Machinima Filmmaking Competition welcomes film-makers of all skill levels and talents, to participate in a unique movie-making competition. Use iClone in the creation of your movie and tell your tale…”

The deadline is a little under three months away: the 4th of July 2010. Free entry (three movies max.), but contestants must be registered with Reallusion. Films can be shown publicly on YouTube prior to entry. Categories are:

Best Picture

Best Movie Tribute

Best Mashup (compilation of video game footage, external media footage or any other source into their film)

Best Screenplay

The Best Super Hero Award

Coolest Robot Style

Most Creative Alien

Best Outer Space Scene

The Best Space Science (most realistic presentation of an outer space environment and hard science)

Best Visual FX

Best Sound FX

Unfortunately there’s also a painful kicker at the foot of the rules page, suggesting that LOTR-style fantasy will also be accepted as if it was science-fiction (which it isn’t)…

“Fantasy & Adventure: LOTR, Indiana Jones, NeverEnding story, …”

I’d suggest that line might better read: “Steampunk, Indiana Jones, City of Ember”.