Faceware Technologies ships Analyzer 2.0, Retargeter 4.0
Faceware Technologies has announced new versions of all of its markerless facial motion-capture products, introducing new entry-level Lite versions and ditching its old pay-per-second pricing model.
How the system works
The technology, which was recently used on GTA V, comes in three parts: software packages Analyzer and Retargeter, and an optional head-mounted camera.
The software packages form a two-part markerless facial performance capture pipeline: Analyzer processes live footage of an actor’s face, while Retargeter controls how its output drives the animation of a CG character.
What’s new this time round
The features of Retargeter 4.0 – Auto Solve, Expression Sets, more scriptability – were announced in March, while Analyzer 2.0 is really the same, but better: new core algorithms cut solve times from “hours” to “minutes”.
What’s more interesting is the pricing: whereas both packages used to be free to download, with Faceware charging to generate the IMPD files that Retargeter required, it is now selling them outright.
Although the prices of the Pro editions of the software haven’t been announced publicly, the new Lite versions start at $795 per seat for Analyzer 2.0 and $395 per seat for Retargeter 4.0: that is, $1,190 for a complete system.
When you consider that Faceware used to charge from $850 to $1,000 per minute of footage processed, that’s going to work out cheaper for almost any project that demands a dedicated facial-capture system.
The press release mentions “downward pressure on production budgets”, but Faceware is also facing more competition than it used to in the professional market, from newer rivals like Dynamixyz.
The Lite versions lack features that most studios will need, though – not least scripting support – so they seem better suited to indie projects and reference work. You can see an exact list of restrictions below.
New GoPro-based head-mounted camera
The developer has taken the same approach to its head-mounted cameras. While the Professional Headcam system can still be rented for $300 per day, there is also a new entry-level alternative based on a GoPro Hero3.
(Exactly how entry-level the pricing is, we aren’t quite sure, since the Buy button on the site just pops up an email you can fill in to ask for more details.)
Faceware’s new products are shipping now. You can read more details in the official news release below, or follow the links at the foot of the story.
PRESS RELEASE (Excerpts)
Faceware Technologies, the leading innovator and most experienced provider of markerless 3D facial motion capture solutions, today announced that it has launched new upgrades to its Professional Facial Motion Capture Product Line, a start-to-finish facial mocap tool suite built to capture, analyze and transfer human emotion into digital facial performances. Most recently, Faceware products were used on the billion-dollar success Grand Theft Auto V. The new product line now includes two versions of Analyzer 2.0, Retargeter 4.0 and two Headcam options, an entry-level GoPro® Headcam Kit and more robust Professional Headcam system. Each product has been crafted to help artists achieve higher quality results earlier in the animation process. The new software versions also boast an updated pricing model with flexible options for fixed licenses and no longer a cost per second to export data.
Faceware Analyzer™ is a stand-alone, single-camera facial tracking software application that converts any video of an actor’s performance into facial motion files for use in Faceware Retargeter™. With the updated Analyzer 2.0, what used to take hours now takes minutes. Analyzer’s newly integrated core algorithms draw from thousands of minutes of facial performance data taken from real actors from years of real projects in nearly any lighting and capturing condition.
Analyzer 2.0 is now available in a basic Lite version (starting at $795 per seat) and a full-featured Pro version. The entry-level Lite version allows users to automatically track facial movements that can then be applied to CG face models using Faceware Retargeter. Any data that is exported out of Analyzer Lite will be compatible with the Lite and Pro versions of Retargeter.
With Analyzer Pro, users also have the ability to add shot-specific custom calibrations, import/export global actor data, and auto indicate tracking regions. For team settings, Analyzer Pro also features server and local licensing options, and scriptable batch functionality.
Announced just prior to GDC 2013, Faceware Retargeter 4.0 is a plug-in for Autodesk animation tools (2011-2014 Max, Maya, MotionBuilder and Softimage. See it being used on Max and Maya here) that utilizes the facial tracking data created in Analyzer to help animators create facial animation through a quick and intuitive pose-based workflow. This updated software includes several new features such as one-button automatic solving, advanced character Expression Sets, Visual Tracking Data, Shared Pose Thumbnails and Batch Processing. These additions focus on automating more of the facial motion capture process, as well as simplifying creative collaboration.
Like Analyzer 2.0, Retargeter 4.0 is now available in two versions: a basic Lite version (starting at $395 per seat) and a feature-rich Pro version. Retargeter Lite allows users to automatically solve performances quickly onto their characters as well as reduce and smooth keyframes for optimal use. With Retargeter Pro, users have access to several additional features, including custom poses to improve solving, intelligent pose suggestions, shared pose libraries, columnized keyframe solving, and script functionality. Users of Retargeter Pro also have the ability to backup and restore jobs and retarget specific objects or attributes.
With over eight years of development, the Faceware Headcam systems capture crystal-clear video reference of any acting performance that is ideal for use in Faceware’s software products. Two main hardware options are now available for rent or purchase: the entry-level GoPro® Headcam Kit and the Professional Headcam System.
The GoPro® Headcam Kit offers a one-size-fits-all helmet with three camera- mounting options and includes everything budget-conscious users need for facial performance capture – including a license of Analyzer 2.0 Lite and Retargeter 4.0 Lite. It can also be combined with the GoPro® iOS, Windows, and Android app for remote start and stop as well as remote monitoring and easy camera framing.
The Professional Headcam System (from $300 rental per day) is a sturdy, professional-grade system that offers multiple helmet, padding, lens, mounting bar and capture options for ultimate adaptability on-set. With a unique drop-arm design, easy access to CCU settings, and maximum stability, the system captures high-quality facial data in any size volume, looking in any direction. The entire system is lightweight for long-term actor comfort – weighing in at just 15 ounces for the camera, mounting arm and helmet and 27 ounces for the camera belt, CCU, battery, and cabling. There are options for rental or purchase of the Professional Headcam system.