August 20, 2008


Image Metrics brought the CG character to life by capturing, tracking and animating the actress' performance. The Emily character made its debut at Image Metrics' SIGGRAPH booth last week, and the company also presented a Tech Talk on Emily's creation.

David Barton, Image Metrics' producer, says the goal of the project was to create a completely convincing, animated CG face. ICT employed its high-resolution face scanning process to capture O'Brien in 35 poses. This process places the actress inside a sphere of LED lights, illuminating the talent with a set of polarized spherical gradient illumination patterns while a pair of high-resolution digital cameras take around 15 photographs in less than three seconds.

These patterns allow the shine of the skin to be photographed independently from the main skin tone so that precise colors and characteristics can be calculated at hundreds of measurements per square millimeter. The resulting CG models provide high levels of detail of natural facial expressions with perfectly aligned shading information.

Using no markers or makeup, Image Metrics captures facial performances using SD or HD video. Its computer vision technology then analyzes that performance, pixel-by-pixel, including subtle eye and mouth movements, and applies that information to a 3D model.

The company began planning the Emily project in March 2008 and after developing a script for the animation, had ICT Graphics Lab scan O'Brien to develop the template for her CG double. Eight artists worked part time on the internal project and then built a custom rig for the character. They captured O'Brien's performance with video and applied it to the CG character with its proprietary facial animation solution. Once the capture and rigging processes were finalized, the :90 animation took one week to complete.