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Bringing Emotions To Game Characters with Mixamo's New Facial Motion Capture Tech


At Mixamo, our mission is to democratize 3D character art. We are already providing the first and only professional automatic rigging service in the world, the Auto-Rigger, as well as unprecedented access to high-quality 3D animations and 3D character models. Today we’re thrilled to extend our offering with high-fidelity facial 3D animation, the holy grail of emotional engagement for game developers and film makers.


 

Face Plus, is a technology that brings facial animations to 3D characters leveraging an simple off the shelf webcam and the Unity engine. Face Plus was designed so that anyone from independent game developers to large studios can enrich their games with emotional experiences without the high cost and complexity of previous facial animation solutions.


We designed Face Plus with the technical support of AMD, a strategic investor in Mixamo. The AMD team helped Mixamo achieve high fidelity for the Face Plus plugin using heterogeneous computing through OpenCL. See performance test results.


“We are big believers of Mixamo’s vision for making development of 3D character art easy, which is why we chose to invest in Mixamo through AMD Ventures,” said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Heterogeneous Solutions at AMD. “AMD always develops its technology with developers in mind, and continues to support important partners in future innovations. We are enthusiastic about Face Plus which will inspire Unity game developers.”


To demonstrate the high level of fidelity delivered with Face Plus we created Unplugged, an interactive animated short that uses Face Plus technology to convey emotion through its characters. Unplugged takes viewers through the journey of a boy striving to break free from a hopeless life, showcasing what can be achieved with Unity, a simple standard webcam, Face Plus and a creative concept.


 

“Unplugged will hopefully inspire our developers to be even more ambitious with their games,” said David Helgason, Unity Technologies CEO and cofounder. “The game industry is evolving fast, and players are looking for richer stories with deeper emotional engagement. Facial animation’s prohibitive costs and proprietary equipment requirements represent one of the biggest limits for game developers hoping to address this. With Face Plus and Unity 4.3, we are removing some of these roadblocks.”


The entire facial 3D animation workflow can now be executed within a single tool, in real time. With Face Plus, developers are now able to capture their own facial expressions via standard webcams and transfer them in real time onto a 3D character. A Unity plugin, Face Plus leverages the upcoming Unity 4.3 blendshape technology.


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“With Unity 4.3 we are expanding our Mecanim animation system to support not only state-of-the-art 3D character animation, but also real-time motion capture directly in the editor,” says David Helgason. “Face Plus provides more creative freedom to our community and empowers them to craft emotional storylines for their games.”


Face Plus is available today, and is included within Mixamo All Access, a yearly pass for unlimited access to Mixamo’s entire collection of 3D characters, tens of thousands of high-quality 3D animations, and to the Auto-Rigger. All Access pass holders also benefit from the Unlimited+ Animation Store plugin, which enables them to browse and use all of Mixamo’s animations directly from the Unity interface.


We are excited to push the gaming industry forward and are extremely thankful to AMD for helping us achieve the high standard of quality that we had in mind for Face Plus. Their HSA expertise was key to creating a high performance product that will change the way game developers create facial animation and think about storytelling. We can't wait to see what game developers will invent!


Stefano Corazza,

CEO & Cofounder, Mixamo

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