Disney has created facial recognition software that can capture a person’s expressions and convert them into an animation in real-time.
When we smile or scrunch our face, our face becomes lined with little wrinkles that showcase the emotion we are trying to express. Although animation has gotten increasingly more sophisticated over the years, it is still difficult to include those little facial changes that express an emotion in an animated character, Disney writes in their research paper about their new software.
Disney adds that because audiences are trained to look at faces and identify subtle changes in expression, the inability to fully include facial cues in animation is problematic.
So Disney created software that can read a person’s changing facial expressions using a camera and then convert them into an animated mask in real time.
Technology does already exist that captures facial changes in real-time, but they are unable to relay every detail that comes with a change in facial expression. Previous software also had to be tailored to work specifically with one person, whereas this software can be used by anyone at anytime.
“While these models simplify the capture problem and facilitate performance retargeting to other characters, they fail to capture the unique medium and fine scale facial details of the individual, such as wrinkles on the forehead or the so-called crows feet around the eyes,” Disney writes.
Disney is the first to create technology capable of capturing facial changes in real-time at “high fidelity,” meaning at a level that shows those crows feet or wrinkles. To use it, a person sits in front of a camera and makes their desired facial expressions. From there, the software converts those expressions into a “wrinkle map,” which is then used to create the high-fidelity animated face.
Whereas other facial converters require multiple cameras, Disney’s software only requires one camera. The software can also convert head-on face shots to side shots.
“By offering more realistic facial capture in real-time, our technique allows advances in various application domains including… more realistic online facial retargeting to virtual characters,” Disney writes.
So be prepared for a more wrinkly Snow White.
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