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midix

Facial animation - bones vs poses?

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The engine of my choice - Ogre3d - has bone blend masks, so I can create separate animations for skeleton and mix - not blend - them together, so game characters can run and read a book at the same time :) But the question is - is this a appropriate way for facial animations also? So I have two obvious choices: 1. bone masks - then I can do a single "animation pass" for face and body if I'll use hardware skinning. It seems also easier to manage and design a single type of animation - I am not really good 3d designer, so I'll use some existing rigs anyway. I know, then I'll need bone masks for separate details of a face - eyes, mouth, so I can mix them to get various animations, but as I do not need really precise animations, it is achievable, I think. 2. mix pose vertex animation and skeleton animation. Disadvantages - I'll have to manage two kinds of animations and also two passes will be needed to mix them. Advantage - using XSI, creating various facial expressions using shape keys is easier than with bones. Also which kind of animation would be easier to adapt to mesh changes, if I want to allow user to make character's face skinnier, then save his customized mesh but still be able to use the same animations? Or maybe I should not store and reload customized mesh but create new poses for user changes - so I could still share the mesh data between characters, but this approach seems more complicated, so I'll leave it for some later time anyway. What are your experiences with creating facial animation? Which way is easier / more effective? Thanks for any suggestions.

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