“This is our major break- through, to just have every nuance that you do in a normal performance (be) recorded.”
Describing the detailed facial animation system used on Beowulf, co-authored and patented by Remington Scott.
Special Projects Computer Graphics Supervisor
Remington supervised and directed exclusive digital production sessions with actors Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, John Malkevitch, Crispin Glover, Brendan Gleeson, Allison Lohman, Robin Wright Penn. These sessions include face scanning, optical topographical capture and FACS facial muscle calibration.
Remington also co-authored a patent for Sony in order to record micro-saccade eye ball rotation to tiny portable computers the size of an iPod with several small electrodes placed on the actors face .
DETAILED FACIAL ANIMATION
FACS is an acronym which stands for Facial Action Coding System, the most widely used and versatile method for measuring and describing facial behaviors. Paul Ekman and W.V. Friesen developed FACS in the 1970s by determining how the contraction of each facial muscle (singly and in combination with other muscles) changes the appearance of the face. Today, FACS is used as an alphabet of facial actions for the creation of realistic digital human expressions.
Every project has different requirements regarding facial animation. The number of FACS actions range from thirty to ninety-six, not including other proprietary calibration and animation actions.
The reason for such a large difference in the required range of actions relies on the level of detail of the character, number of characters, budget and time.
Remington designs the action units required from each actor; working within the boundaries of the production team's schedule as well as performance requirements.
Remington's facial muscle calibration takes into account the topography of the actors facial features and the type of capture system configuration that will be recording the performance.
FACS AND ACTORS
From the perspective of an actor who is about to enter into the process of digital replication, this can be seen as a daunting and somewhat complicated process -specially if the situation is not handled properly.
All actors want their performance to read through the digital actors skin, they want to bring their "A" game and do their best, but sometimes overly technical complications and mis-communication can cause frustration or a lack of understanding to the process.
Remington's experience in working with actors through this process is unique. He understands the performers point of view as they enter the acquisition environment and works one-on-one to ensure that they are comfortable in the developmental process of the most realistic animation possible.
The art of performance capture has evolved around the limitations of RAC, 'Recording Action Compression', an inevitable part of the process in which aspects of the actor will be lost to a filtration process, or more succinctly- the parts of the actor that aren't markered, aren't recorded.
Professional proficiency in developing methodologies that limits the loss reduction of the performance is an integral part of Remington's experience. He designs animation systems with an understanding of what happens 'between the markers' in order to 'find' the actors performance and successfully translate the results throughout the bio-mechanical body and digital skin of the character.
An example of RAC can be seen in the problem of recording micro-expressions, which are the smallest nuances of the face... specially the eyes.
Often considered the 'window to the soul', the eyes have been one of the biggest hurdles in creating emotionally rich digital humans. Until recently there have been no rewarding solutions to recording human eye motion on-set simultaneously with face and body capture.
To achieve a level of realism unseen before, Mark Sagar and Remington Scott have authored a patent for Sony in which several small electrodes placed on the actors face record micro-saccade movement to tiny portable computers the size of an iPod.
Essentially, the human eyeball is like a battery, with a positive and negative pole running from front to back. The electrodes record the DC potential and graphs an X and Y f-curve that is used to drive the rotational values of the CG eyeball.
Not just an experiment in R&D, Producer Brian Keeney has led development of the technology for production use. Key team members include Bruce Dobrin, Eugene Jeong and Parag Havaldar. Remington supervised the production and implementation of this system for "Beowulf".
Eye movement data replacement in motion capture
PATENT # 7,764,283
System and method for tracking facial muscle and eye motion for computer graphics animation
PATENT # 7,554,549