Day 2 of SIGGRAPH 2014 here in Vancouver saw the start of the many film and games production sessions - we made it to talks on The LEGO Movie, Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. And there were also some incredible technical presentations, including on faces.
Oh and this year's PIXAR Teapot has been released! (queues were forming 1.5 hours before the noon giveaways and stretching around the convention!)
Displaced Dynamic Expression Regression for Real-time Facial Tracking and Animation
Technical papers are fairly serious events. It is at the hard core technical papers where the maths and science of our craft are presented, - it is therefore not common for multiple rounds of spontaneous applause during a talk but at the DDE face tracking avatar talk that is just what happened.
Building on last year's effort where this team presented a system of face tracking and automatic expression retargeting to an animated avatar - which took ONE HOUR to calibrate. This year the system is REAL TIME. 1 hour to zip. Thus as each of the presenters jumped in front of the web cam - their face was automatically tracked, their expressions read and then a real time animated face - a cartoon avatar mirrored their movement. Not only did this Chinese team do this on a web cab with great immediate results , but they kept on going pushing the system...
- it jumped immediately to a new person as the first left frame and continued without fault,
- it worked when they put on sun glasses
- it worked when they shone lights around the subjects head (irregular illumination)
- It works outside or inside...
- it even worked when the switched to an iphone and showed a realtime version running on OSX.
The system managed the vast jump in calibration performance by accessing three databases of faces and calibrating the subjects face via 14,000+ reference pictures, all with varying lighting. In a sense rather than make you wait - it went to the library and did the calibration on its own time.
This coupled with the team's DDE regression solver produced very impressive results. The result was stable, robust and fast.
The LEGO Movie
Animal Logic has several presentations about their work on The LEGO Movie at SIGGRAPH, where they are literally showing behind the scenes of modeling, effects, animation and tests not shown elsewhere. We've learnt about some of Animal's tools used for modeling including an automated process called Shell Baking to construct geo at various levels of detail, after models had been made in Lego Digital Designer. Then there was also a procedural brick placement system called LEGOscape that allowed artists to quickly create large environments like terrains and canyons.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
In this production session, attendees heard from the overall vfx supe along with the supes from ILM (Falcon, Helicarriers, Washington), Scanline (ship at sea, elevator sequence, Quinjet attack) and Lola VFX (Old Peggy) who presented a ton of breakdowns and insights into the film. Perhaps one standout was Lola's Edson Williams discussing the exploration of how to achieve Old Peggy, taking us through the initial make-up tests, stand-in tests and re-projection approaches. ILM's attention to detail in re-creating a digital Falcon, and also in choreographing the Helicarier battle scenes and destruction was equally impressive.
Guardians of the Galaxy
The film has not been out that long, but in this talk we were treated with presentations from the assoc vfx supe, Framestore, MPC and Luma Pictures. Framestore's Rocket and Groot test was a highlight, showing how far those characters came in design and animation. Also, the modeling and rigging approaches for Groot carried out by MPC revealed how much the emotion of that character came from the vfx artists. And Luma Pictures' Thanos shots and the methodology behind them was also expertly explored. Check out our soon to be released article on the VFX of Guardians here at fxguide.
The parties are in full swing. The Foundry party was loud and fun, but perhaps the best party on Day 2 was the Solid Angle Yacht party - held on the water beside the Convention Centre - Sushi - cocktails - directional path tracing - what else could you want?
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