Thursday, October 20th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Eisko launches automated online facial rigging service

Digital doubles specialist Eisko has launched Rig on Demand, a new online service that promises to generate a complete bone and blendshape-based Maya facial rig for any character.

The system forms an interesting counterpart to conventional automated rigging tools and online services like the Adobe-owned Auto-Rigger, most of which generate only full-body rigs.

Automatically generate a skinned facial rig with 123 source expressions
Eisko’s system automatically generates a fully skinned rig for any head mesh uploaded to it, complete with both on-mesh controls and a side panel with sliders controlling visemes and facial expressions.

The movements of the character’s eyes, eyebrows and inner mouth are driven by the resulting facial deformations, but can also be adjusted individually.

The rig includes 123 morph targets derived from HD scans of actors – you can find a list of blendshapes on Eisko’s site – including neutral eyes closed, compressed and uncompressed poses.

Although the rig is designed for Maya 2016, Eisko says that it aims to make it compatible with standard mocap retargeting tools like Faceware Technologies’ Retargeter and Dynamixyz’s Performer Suite.

Works with any humanoid head mesh in OBJ or FBX format
According to Eisko, its technology can “transfer deformations from one mesh to another independently of topology while taking into account morphological differences”, so it should work on any humanoid character.

Head models can be uploaded in OBJ or FBX format, and there are no restrictions on topology or UV layout, although the mesh should contain no holes and the eyes, teeth and tongue should be separate geometry.

Each head model takes “around 30 minutes” to process, with Eisko operating a first-in-first-out policy.

Pricing and availability
While the rig looks good in the demo video above, you can expect to pay significantly more for it than for conventional full-body auto-rigging tools and services.

The full Rig on Demand service costs $999 per model for artists and companies with annual revenues under $1 million, or $1,999 per model for companies with revenues over $1 million.

Eisko also offers a Blendshapes on Demand service, which transfers its 123 blendshapes to a facial mesh but does not generate the rig or controls, and which costs $499 per model for commercial use.

The blendshapes are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Updated 25 July 2018: Rig on Demand is now available through Eisko’s new online platform Polywink.