Sunday, January 12th, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Get animation tool TAFA free

Veteran LightWave facial animation tool TAFA in action, in a demo recored by user Erik Alstad in 2009. Developer Mac Reiter has now made the software available for free.

Developer Mac Reiter has made veteran facial animation tool TAFA (Timothy Albee’s Facial Animation) available for free.

Although now well over a decade old, the app is described on the LightWave forum as “still is the absolute go-to piece of software when it comes to morph/blendshape based animation”.

Updated 14 January: We originally described TAFA as a LightWave animation tool, but readers have been in touch to point out that animation can be exported to any DCC application that accepts MDD files.

A real-time tool for previewing and editing morph-based facial animation
Released in the mid-2000s, TAFA is intended to streamline morph-based facial animation, making it possible to scrub through and edit animations in real time.

Edits can be performed while an animation is playing, by sliding or copying and pasting keyframes, or via the plugin’s Curve Editors and Exposure Sheet.

The software also adds a number of utility features, including tools for remapping animations between characters with different morph target names, and for splitting symmetrical morphs into left and right halves.

Now dated, but still recommended by many current LightWave users
TAFA’s interface is now pretty dated, as can be gathered from the demo video above, but many LightWave users still swear by it, even though it hasn’t been actively sold for years.

Announcing that the software is now free, Mac Reiter commented that the move was prompted by the fact that “people are still recommending TAFA and even digging through to get to it”.

It’s very much provided as-is: the build available doesn’t support LWO3, the latest version of LightWave’s LWO format, although LWO2 and OBJ files should work.

A future source code release, making it possible for users to add in new features for themselves is possible, but not guaranteed.

In a thread on the NewTek forum, Mac Reiter says that he has no objection, but admits that due to the time elapsed, “I’m not sure I could find a coherent pile of code that would build any working version of TAFA”.

System requirements and availability
TAFA is Windows-only, although it “runs fine” on Linux under WINE. LightWave 7.5 is recommended, although animation can be exported to other DCC applications in .mdd format.

Read an overview of TAFA’s features from the time of the plugin’s original release

Download TAFA for free from Mac Reiter’s website (Direct link here)