Facial rig design for Ptolmus: fast and expressive animation

José Maria Richardson Rebello de Andrade

Saturday 26 October Theater 30

A man and an unknown creature talk in a cave. That is the setup of the animated film Ptolmus, entirely done with Open Source software (Blender, Gimp, LMMS and Audacity), that served as proof of concept of Josemaria RRA's master’s degree dissertation called “Optimization of facial rigs for low budget production animated series”.

The main goal of this research was to study and propose new facial rigging techniques that could permit organic and expressive movements with little work, in order to create good animation as fast as possible. The necessity to give the rig limitations and cut down the number of controllers and animation channels became clear. It was important to carry a bibliographic review about facial anatomy and expressions (e.g., Ekman, P. & Friesen, W.V., 2003), and to analyze other rigs and animated films. An exploratory study of the face expressions (involving direct observation of real persons) and a consultancy session with Nathan Vegdahl were other sources of knowledge.

This presentation will also show the rig used to create facial expressions, focusing mainly on the author's original ideas for the designed rig. Positive and negative aspects of the original ideas for the rig will be discussed.