Face Plus Technology Brings 3D Facial Capture to Unity

Pioneers in 3D character animation, Mixamo, have announced a new facial capture technology compatible with Unity. Face Plus is a technology that uses a simple webcam and the Unity editor to animate a characters face using their own. This new advancement in technology allows indie developers to make use of facial animation technologies similar to those used in high-profile titles.

A Unity plugin which utilises the upcoming Unity 4.3 blendshape technology, Face Plus allows developers to capture facial expressions of themselves and apply them to 3D character models using a standard webcam.

“With Unity 4.3 we are expanding our Mecanim animation system to support not only state-of-the-art 3D character animation, but also real-time motion capture directly in the editor,” says David Helgason, CEO of  Unity Technologies. “Face Plus provides more creative freedom to our community and empowers them to craft emotional storylines for their games.”

This new technology allows the 3D animation workflow to be executed with one single piece of software, all in real time.

“Mixamo’s mission is to democratize 3D character art. We are already providing the first and only automatic rigging service in the world, the Auto-Rigger, as well as unprecedented access to high-quality 3D animations and character models,” added Stefano Corazza, Mixamo’s CEO and cofounder. “Today we’re thrilled to extend our offering with high-fidelity facial 3D animation, the holy grail of emotional engagement for game developers and film makers.”

Face Plus’ fidelity was demonstrated at Unite 2013 through the “Unplugged” tech demo, which you can view below. It shows the short story of a boy discovering a new world and shows off the new technology wonderfully. Capturing emotion in a way only really seen with expensive Motion Capture rigs before.

“Unplugged will hopefully inspire our developers to be even more ambitious with their games,” added David Helgason. “The game industry is evolving fast, and players are looking for richer stories with deeper emotional engagement. Facial animation’s prohibitive costs and proprietary equipment requirements represent one of the biggest limits for game developers hoping to address this. The combination of Unity 4.3 and FacePlus removes some of these roadblocks.”

Developed with support from AMD, Mixamo was able to achieve the high fidelity seen in the Unplugged demo through use of OpenCL.

“We are big believers of Mixamo’s vision for making development of 3D character art easy, which is why we chose to invest in Mixamo through AMD Ventures,” said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Heterogeneous Solutions at AMD. “AMD always develops its technology with developers in mind, and continues to support important partners in future innovations. We are enthusiastic about Face Plus, which will inspire Unity game developers.”

Face Plus is available now and is included in Mixamo All Access, a yearly pass allowing you access to all of Mixamo’s character library, high-quality animations and Mixamo’s auto-rigger.

What are your thoughts on Face Plus? Do you hope to see a upscale in animation quality from 3D indie games now this technology is available? Let us know what you think of the impressive software in the comments.