Building and Animating User-Specific Volumetric Face Rigs

Alexandru-Eugen Ichim
Ladislav Kavan
University of Utah
Merlin Nimier-David
Mark Pauly

We present a facial animation system that can simulate physics-based volumetric effects such as self-collisions and collision with external objects. Our method is data driven and avoids the burden of detailed anatomical modeling.


Currently, the two main approaches to realistic facial animation are 1) blendshape models and 2) physics-based simulation. Blendshapes are fast and directly controllable, but it is not easy to incorporate features such as dynamics, collision resolution, or incompressibility of the flesh. Physics-based methods can deliver these effects automatically, but modeling of muscles, bones, and other anatomical features of the face is difficult, and direct control over the resulting shape is lost. We propose a method that combines the benefits of blendshapes with the advantages of physics-based simulation. We acquire 3D scans of a given actor with various facial expressions and compute a set of volumetric blendshapes that are compatible with physics-based simulation, while accurately matching the input scans. Furthermore, our volumetric blendshapes are driven by the same weights as traditional blendshapes, which many users are familiar with. Our final facial rig is capable of delivering physics-based effects such as dynamics and secondary motion, collision response, and volume preservation without the burden of detailed anatomical modeling.


Alexandru-Eugen Ichim, Ladislav Kavan, Merlin Nimier-David, Mark Pauly. Building and Animating User-Specific Volumetric Face Rigs. Symposium on Computer Animation, 2016.  

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We thank the anonymous reviewers for their feedback and constructive criticism. We would also like to thank Sofien Bouaziz, Matthew Cong, Ron Fedkiw, Eftychios Sifakis, and Peter Shirley for valuable discussions and feedback. This project was supported in part by NSF awards IIS-1622360 and IIS-1350330 and a gift from Activision. Furthermore, we would love to acknowledge the help received from the actors who accepted to be scanned for the purpose of this project: Peter Ender, Jordis Wolk, and Michael Schoenert, as well as Anton Rey for the coordination and acting advice.