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Image Metrics Emily Cg Facial Animation Blows My Mind

by Paul Strauss
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The other day, I showed you guys what I thought was some really impressive computer generated facial animation. Then, the guys over at Image Metrics sent me a video clip of their latest CG creation, Emily, and I was bowled over.

Emily is a truly monumental achievement, recreating every nuance of human facial expression, even though what you’re actually looking at is the face of a digital actor. Created through a partnership with USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), the team’s primary objective was to create a completely convincing, animated computer-generated face, and I think they succeeded.

Emily CGI Facial Animation by Image Metrics and ICT

Using ICT’s special scanning system that can capture facial details down to the individual pore, the face of actress Emily O’Brien was transformed into a digital representation of herself, which could then be entirely machine-manipulated. A special spherical lighting rig captured O’Brien in 35 reference facial poses using a pair of high resolution digital cameras. The facial maps were then converted into 3D data using Image Metrics’ proprietary markerless motion capture technology.

Emily CGI Facial Animation by Image Metrics and ICT

Image Metrics then generated a new animation sequence and precisely superimposed it onto the live actress’ head. As you can see from the video below, you’d be really hard-pressed to tell the difference between digital Emily and real-world Emily.

Amazing, no? Be sure to check out some of Image Metrics’ other CGI projects, which include work on Grand Theft Auto IV, Devil May Cry 4, and a most excellent Gnarls Barkley video featuring a anthropomorphic singing heart.

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