Activision R&D Unveils Eerily Realistic Facial Animation Technology

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things look ok and then it opens its mouth and BOOM we're in the uncanny valley

That looks pretty cool. But what is Activision gonna do with it? Use it in their 4 hour long CoD campaign?

good, but how does this help in the next call of duty game?

Wow, they recreated an angry, white, privileged, male yelling at employees in a McDonalds about his first world problems. Truly amazing.

Stop wasting time and resources on crap like this. We don't need super realistic character models to make a good game. Just pick a good aesthetic and roll with that making sure the game mechanics are fun and functional.

Stationary I'll admit, looks good, but in motion its... i dunno, you can have all the pretty textures in the world but if it doesn't look right in motion its not going to sit right with me

I think it was the changing expressions that got me most, perhaps its how computers render or process things (don't know enough about it) but it looked too smooth and elastic, like the skin was made of rubber and stretching over the face. I swear there was a few moments where the head was entirely still but the whole face portion shifted a few centimeters then back again

Normal human motion isn't that smooth I guess and that's what makes it uncanny valley territory for me

No, no, no! Still no! This thing doesn't look human. More flexible movement doesn't mean realistic emotion.
Some video games I've played years ago have even better facial animations.

Like Enslaved for example:
image

Impressive! Have we come out of the other end of the uncanny valley?

The eyes look mostly fantastic, but the mouth animation needs...work. The demo creators seem to have known that already though. Overall they seem to be fighting against this default look of pleasant vacancy when trying to convey emotions. It almost looks like his face got injected with way too much botox. Or almost like they're trying to force his face away from that core emotion, but there's this rubber band like tension trying to snap it back to the default every frame of the way.

UltimatheChosen:
That's impressive, but the current level of graphics is already incredibly expensive to develop for, which is why you see games like Dead Space 3 needing to sell in huge quantities just to break even.

As amazing as it would be to have games with that kind of facial animation, I just don't think it's an economically sound move. I can't even imagine how many man-hours it would take to render an entire game with that kind of fidelity.

make one character anim,ation model. sell the said model to other companies. you make your investment back, and they get to do it cheaper than coding it themselves. you know, sort of like how game engines work.

So one single face will take whole computing rendering ability of a modern PC? I guess the prophecy of whole game being a very realistic old mans face just staring at you is true. but as technology moves on, maybe, in 10 years we will see a whole city populated by such people. yay?

My integrated graphics card weeps for the future of gaming. What card would you need to have those graphics in game?

It's moments like these where I generally despise and hate the gamer community as a whole. The video there, doesn't do this thing justice. This was a face animated to the degree you'd see in a Pixar film without the help of a mocap setup, in real time, on the fly, using some Nvidia technology, where it interprets presets from previously captured emotions, and used that as reference to construct the facial animations.

But now, all we see is this stupid demo of 'look what we can do' by Activision, failing to point out that this can be rendered in real time, on a single GTX670. That's amazing! Do you realize that this means we don't have to have actors for every single freaking animation our characters in games do? Do you realize that, now, yes, we can be playing a Pixar film? This is an amazing demo, and as the alghorytms get better, this technology will require less and less power to use.

In fact, here's the original press conference: I suggest you watch all of it, not just the single video, because, while alot of it has to be taken with a grain of salt, it's much more informative than a video posted by Activision, and it's much better to write about THAT, than it is to write about what amounts to half the story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d1ZOYU4gpo

Sorry about the rage in that post, but god dammit, gamers can be idiots, and jump to conclusions someti-- way too fucking much.

EDIT:
To close my post, sometimes it isn't about the end result, but the methods used to achieve it. As stated, this demo marks the beginning to the end of traditional mocap, at least for facial animations.

The mouth isn't very realistic and that's what makes it uncanny. The eyes and above nose facial features are pretty much as realistic as you can get.

Johny_X2:
I call fucking shenanigans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5d1ZOYU4gpo

Nvidia's tech. Not Activision's.

Were you expecting Activision to do something original?

"Look! Look! We developed an awesome facial animation technology! Isn't it awesome?!?!? Noooooo, silly, we aren't going to develop better looking games now. Instead, we will patent the technology and stuff it up our bums for next 10 years, because PS4 and XBOX 720 don't have the power to use it, and we can't be bothered to develop games for PC because piracy and shit!"

It´s still too clean and weird looking. But it´s miles better than the horrors we see in most realistic looking games these days. But i would take a slightly stylized look over this any day, look at Final Fantasy XIII facial animations looks great in that game without looking like a cartoon.

DugMachine:
The facial expressions are impressive but they'll never get the eyes right. No matter how realistic you can make the textures and muscle movements I don't believe we'll ever capture that 'focus' that real eyes have. It's always as if they're looking right through something and never at it... if that makes any sense.

Half Life 2 actually did that pretty well, actually.

Every time a new console generation comes around, we get tech demos of faces, and every time people assume that's what we're going to see in next-gen games. And every single time it turns out to be bullshit.

They've been selling us this for years, and it's always been bullshit. We never got scary realistic PS2 old dudes, we never got Alfred Molina-level characters on PS3. They keep selling us the same damn face demos over and over, and people keep freaking out each time. There's nothing new here, and nothing in the latest tech demos that the PS3 Molina demo didn't already have.

Worgen:
It's impressive but still pretty much in the uncanny valley.

Indeed. I suppose next gen games better come with some complimentary spelunking equipment. I'm not going down that place without stuff that would let me climb back out fast.

Strazdas:

UltimatheChosen:
That's impressive, but the current level of graphics is already incredibly expensive to develop for, which is why you see games like Dead Space 3 needing to sell in huge quantities just to break even.

As amazing as it would be to have games with that kind of facial animation, I just don't think it's an economically sound move. I can't even imagine how many man-hours it would take to render an entire game with that kind of fidelity.

make one character anim,ation model. sell the said model to other companies. you make your investment back, and they get to do it cheaper than coding it themselves. you know, sort of like how game engines work.

It's not that simple. Keep in mind that making character models is still expensive, even though 90% of them are just a humanoid skeleton-- this isn't something that you can just copy and paste, unless you want every character to have the exact same build.

Just look at all those emotions...

Still very rigid in my opinion, I would also like to see them try to render the rest of a game simultaneously or it is has about as much practical purpose as the last 10 tech demos with floating heads I saw.

It's incredible. A few things bug me though: why does this article feel the need to tell me how I should feel about this?

It seems like anytime incredible new technology surfaces, this primal need to downplay it also surfaces.

This is the least uncanny valley-esque facial rendering I've ever seen.... well, I was impressed, anyway. This would have been astounding five years ago. And imagine this in a game context, where you aren't looking perfectly closely and still anyway. Absolutely incredible technology, and will soon make it's way to real-time rendering in games... oh, because the technology isn't there today it won't be here tomorrow? Make no mistake, we're moving towards complete virtual reality.

I agree that getting closer to virtual reality doesn't make great games, in fact, I almost think there is a split now in the games industry... virtual-reality-focused and creative, story-based or conceptual games. Maybe they should be viewed as different things, even. I have different reasons for playing a game like VVVVVV (amazing game) and nerding out to the newest console eye candy.

UltimatheChosen:

Strazdas:

UltimatheChosen:
That's impressive, but the current level of graphics is already incredibly expensive to develop for, which is why you see games like Dead Space 3 needing to sell in huge quantities just to break even.

As amazing as it would be to have games with that kind of facial animation, I just don't think it's an economically sound move. I can't even imagine how many man-hours it would take to render an entire game with that kind of fidelity.

make one character anim,ation model. sell the said model to other companies. you make your investment back, and they get to do it cheaper than coding it themselves. you know, sort of like how game engines work.

It's not that simple. Keep in mind that making character models is still expensive, even though 90% of them are just a humanoid skeleton-- this isn't something that you can just copy and paste, unless you want every character to have the exact same build.

Yeah but if you build 10 models, then you can just use minor adjustment and reuse them in different game. the key is to program it in such a way that it could be easily altered and transferred into another game. They still make money on the good game engines like unreal one you know, its a long term money income. if you do it well though.

TacticalAssassin1:

DugMachine:
The facial expressions are impressive but they'll never get the eyes right. No matter how realistic you can make the textures and muscle movements I don't believe we'll ever capture that 'focus' that real eyes have. It's always as if they're looking right through something and never at it... if that makes any sense.

Half Life 2 actually did that pretty well, actually.

Gonna have to disagree with you on that. Half Life 2 facial animations were impressive and they did a way better job with eyes than most people do (at the time) but it still didn't sell me. But this could just be me knowing it's CGI and finding any flaw even if it's quite good.

DugMachine:

TacticalAssassin1:

DugMachine:
The facial expressions are impressive but they'll never get the eyes right. No matter how realistic you can make the textures and muscle movements I don't believe we'll ever capture that 'focus' that real eyes have. It's always as if they're looking right through something and never at it... if that makes any sense.

Half Life 2 actually did that pretty well, actually.

Gonna have to disagree with you on that. Half Life 2 facial animations were impressive and they did a way better job with eyes than most people do (at the time) but it still didn't sell me. But this could just be me knowing it's CGI and finding any flaw even if it's quite good.

I honestly think it's the eyes too. Eyes are just reall important in human interaction or even interaction in other species or between species. We are pretty much programmed to recognize and concentrate on the eyes. This is why 3 circles are enough to create something we can interprete as a face. But this is also what makes us see suptle differences in expression and focus of eyes. We notice when something is just slightly off and that leads them to be uncanny.

Hagi:
That needs a disclaimer?

I mean it's very impressive and all. When it's not moving.

But that's not a smile. And unless you've got some sort of growth on your inner cheek that's not how you talk. The whole thing just doesn't move right. Animation-wise that thing is still very firmly in the uncanny valley.

All this really demonstrates is that whomever made this thing simply doesn't understand what makes things look lifelike. It's not the graphical fidelity. It's movement and animation. Things have to move naturally, organically. Then they'll appear life-like. I've seen robots, the ones that are nothing but a metal frame, that appear more life-like than this thing, because the motions they go through are simply right.

Pretty much this.

The hunters in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 were more life like than the human enemies in say, Call of Duty (on a related note, human enemies in MGS4 were pretty good too). I would rather have stylized enemies that act believably than then well textured humans, I want to outwit enemies who try to ambush me, I want to fight an enemy who tries have his friends sneak up on me, I want to have enemies who get caught off guard, I don't want to fight another bland bunch of terrorists who try to overrun me with numbers and barely know how to duck and cover, and yet somehow always know where I am once they spot me, despite me being out of their line of sight.

I think tears were forming in my eyes from so much emotion from so much polygon.

Uncanny valley ho!

Seriously, I can't help but think this is a complete waste of time. It looks nice, but it doesn't move like a living thing. I wish companies would actually spend time making games play better or have better stories rather than just going 'LOOK shiny realistic graphics!!!' all the time. Graphics aren't what make games great.

Apply a brown filter and you can see what it'll look like in-game!

that sure is a shiny face, but is it just me or was the lip syncing WAAAAAAY off? maybe they just need time to perfect the technique, but if you ask me it doesn't hold a candle to the technology used in LA noire. sure the wrinkles in the eyes look damn realistic, but the talking completely ruined it for me

P.S. weird how all them polys can convey the heart and soul of a character without any words, but realistic hair is apparently still unachievable

They probably should put more resources and time into finding out how to emulate emotions, rather than imitate emotions.

I didn't think Activision would have R&D for facial animation technology.

I mean... boom-headshot in Call of Duty would make this whole thing pretty pointless.

Most facial animations I've seen this gen, in upcoming titles and prior to now have been terrible. What makes it completely outside my understanding is that it's been years and years and years since Half Life 2, HL2: Episode 1 and HL2: Episode 2 got facial animations RIGHT. That's the base, go up from there, but when I consistently see games not even manage to get it to HL2 levels, a very old game by this point, it's kind of . . . sad.

It doesn't speak well of the people in development positions, doing this work, these days when so few manage to do anything resembling good with the facial animations - especially the lip syncing. The Source Engine had this great lip syncing tech, by the way, that was inclusive to multiple languages since the tech made the face, rather the mouth, animate to the voice, rather than it being hand animated or through other means. Basically it would try and match up how the lips moved with the sounds being made, it wasn't perfect, but it worked quite well and it escaped a lot of the issues that occur when dubbing in a new language (ever played a Japanese game dubbed in english where the mouth kept moving beyond the english words spoken? That's what the source engine's tech allowed Valve, and other developers, to escape in non-english dubs of their source engine games).

All the things you've said here--they'll never get it right, it will be too expensive for the masses, yada, yada, yada, were all said about the telephone, the car, electricity, and airplanes. Eventually it will work and will be integrated into everyday life. The problem is--what for? Snuff porn? Games that teach us to kill without remorse because, after all, its not human even it looks just like one...Of course, these ethical concerns won't stop its production. Onward and upward folks. But onward and upward toward what end?

i have got to know whats wrong with all you people?!?!!

new graphics best ever for a game. made by game developers

and you all just ether dismiss it as "it will never be used" or "it has i minor flaw never mind the achievement it was to make it this far"

if you look at the graphics on mass effect 3 (THE ONLY REDEEMING FEATURE)and compare it to the best graphics of the last generation you will see that what we just saw WILL be the next step in graphics. AND NO IT WONT BE THE END OF THE WORLD. check this post in five years bet u all $1 that's the base graphics for games, AND THAT ITS A GOOD THING!!!!!!!

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