Wednesday, July 25th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Polywink creates blendshapes and rigs for any head model

Digital doubles specialist Eisko has launched Polywink, a new online platform for facial animation that promises to automatically generate blendshapes or a complete facial rig for a 3D character.

We original wrote about the platform back in 2016, when it was called Eisko Services, but it has since been updated, and gained a service geared at creating animated avatars for iPhone X apps.

Generate over 160 facial blendshapes for any head model uploaded to the site
Polywink’s base offering is the Blendshapes on Demand service, which generates a set of 161 facial expressions – up from the original 123 offered on launch – for any head model uploaded to it.

It works with both realistic and stylised characters, so long as the proportions are broadly humanoid.

Models can be uploaded in OBJ or FBX format, and there are no restrictions on topology or UV layout, although the eyes and inner mouth should be separate elements, and there should be no hair.

The blendshapes are supplied in FBX format, and “cover the full spectrum of facial muscular deformations, visemes and emotions, guaranteeing consistent geometric displacements without any skin sliding”.

Automatically generate facial rigs for Maya or iPhone X avatars
The next step up is the Rig on Demand service, which uses an extended set of 256 facial blendshapes as the basis of a Maya rig.

The rig is bone-driven, and comes with both on-mesh controls and floating panels with sliders for visemes and facial expressions. It is provided in MB format, and is compatible with Maya 2015 and above.

Polywink also offers a new Animation for iPhone X service, which generates a simplified facial rig with 51 facial shapes, compatible with Apple’s ARKit augmented reality technology.

The FBX file can be used with Unity’s ARKit Plugin – we’re checking if it also works with UE4 – to generate an animated avatar driven by iPhone X’s face-tracking system.

Updated: According to Eisko, the iPhone X service can be used with Unreal Engine: “a first way to do it is to use an app like Face Cap to export the animation in FBX format and then import it in Unreal”.

Pricing and availability
Blendshapes on Demand costs $499 to process a model for ‘internal usage’, or $999 for commercial use. The blendshapes are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Rig on Demand costs $999 per model for internal use, and $1,999 for commmercial use. Animation for iPhone X costs $299 per model for commercial use. Eisko says that it processes models within 24 hours.

Read more about Polywink’s blendshapes and rigging on demand services on its new website