Faceware Technologies unveils Faceware Portal
Faceware Technologies has unveiled Faceware Portal, a new AI-powered online service that extracts facial animation data from uploaded video footage of an actor for use in games or visual effects projects.
The data can be downloaded in a new JSON ‘direct data’ format for use in DCC applications like Maya and game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine without the need to retarget it to a 3D character.
Extract production-quality facial motion data from video footage without manual set-up
Although Faceware has an existing solution for offline markerless facial motion capture – its linked software products, Analyzer and Retargeter – Faceware Portal is intended to remove the need for manual set-up.
According to Faceware, it “eliminate[s] the most time-consuming part of our workflow”, automatically extracting facial motion data from video footage of an actor uploaded to the web portal.
The resulting data can be downloaded in Faceware’s .fwr format, making it possible to retarget the animation to a 3D character in 3ds Max, Maya or MotionBuilder using the Retargeter plugin.
However, it can also be downloaded in a new ‘direct data’ JSON format that “will allow [users] to bypass retargeting completely and go from video direct to animation in [applications like] Unreal, Maya [and] Unity”.
We don’t currently have any more information than that, but the demo video above shows data being applied to a MetaHuman character inside Unreal Engine.
Faceware claims that it took just four minutes to generate the eight seconds of facial animation shown in the demo, from recording the original video to applying the processed animation data to the character.
You can judge the quality of the results from the video embedded above: it doesn’t perfectly preserve the nuances of the original facial performance, but it’s pretty impressive for a completely automated process.
Updated 7 November 2022: Faceware has released a recording of a webinar that shows Faceware Portal and the technology behind it in more detail. You’ll need to register to watch it.
Pricing and availability
Faceware is initially rolling out Faceware Portal for enterprise clients. It hasn’t announced pricing publicly.
The firm told us that the service will eventually be available to smaller studios, but it doesn’t yet have an estimated timescale, so it is advising anyone interested to get in touch directly.