3D What is the most efficient way to manage facial animation?

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Lip-syncing and believable facial expressions.

I have Maya licence for 3 years, but I haven't explored this aspect yet, as I've focused on mechanistic animations so far. I was wondering if there is a specialized software outside of Maya  that would make this very easy and quick. I would only need it for 3-5 characters, but I suppose I could use the exact same facial animation mechanism for all of them.

If you are an experienced Maya user, I would appreciate your response even more. If the easy and quick solution already exists in Maya 2018, I would hate the expenditure of an additional specialized software(also, how time-consuming would it be if you have about 1000 words of dialog).





Edited by Armantium

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3 hours ago, Armantium said:

What about specialized software?

Maya is specialized software. Maya has motion capture (so does Max, Blender and any 3D software worth having) all you need to do is spend a year or two learning how it works so that you can get AAA quality animations.

With just a month of practice you will be able to create usable animations.


There is motion capture software that is easier to use than Maya, it will unfortunately not help you as much as you think. Those kind of software is easier to use because it can't do much, you get very noisy results that have to be fixed by hand.

Then there is the problem of getting the animation into a form you can use. If you do the motion capture in Maya you can just render when done or export to game using FBX format that supports skinned animation and morph targets. Where the other software will need to be imported into Maya and then you will need to convert (often from animated vertices) to both bone animation and morph targets.


There is no easy go to tool for animations, if there was Mass Effect Andromeda would not have had the problems it did. If you want high quality animations and don't want to spend the time learning to make them then hire a artist who already did spend the time learning it.

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1 minute ago, Scouting Ninja said:

 Mass Effect Andromeda would not have had the problems it did

I thought that was due to rampant feminism and neomarxism, they actually hired a cosplaying SJW to do the animations.

Plus the talk about the engine not being good for RPG format.

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10 minutes ago, Armantium said:

I thought that was due to rampant feminism and neomarxism

No the artist where told to use a new animation tool as part of the tools marketing. So more than 70% of the animations where generated. Generated content uses noise to create the info that isn't there.

So you got weird lip snaring because of the noise and muscle spasms. The looking into the distance thing was caused because the key frames of the animation is to far apart and the tool then average out the result. So if you had a eye looking at a vector (0,1,0) and one at (0,0.5,0) then the tool would provide (0,0.75,0) for all in-betweens.

The idea was that Animators would only do a frame every X steps, motion capture would fill it and the tool would smooth it. This all happened because the largest part of any game team is the animation site.


You can research this on the web, it was big news when it happened.

Edit: Even if you had the worst actors in the world your animators can fix it. That is why voice actors went on strike because they where often told to also do motion capture.


Edited by Scouting Ninja

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Actually, I could use this trick instead - 

The smaller screens of the characters are in conversation loops, but in a subtle, barely noticable way.

The exact technique is used here too inside a combat mission -

There is obviously no lip-syncing but the "interference" effect on the screen covers for this.

What do you think, is this the most efficient way to solve this?

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9 hours ago, Armantium said:

What do you think, is this the most efficient way to solve this?

Solve it how you feel fits your game. There are many ways to go about this. On the technical level they will all be more or less the same.

The time it would take to lip-sync is fast unless you plan to mimic the words 100%. So you can go that way also.

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