Softimage announces Face Robot version 1.5
Update to revolutionary facial animation technology includes a game export pipeline, significant performance improvement and import tools for the upcoming Mova Contour Reality Capture System.
CGIndia News

SIGGRAGH 2006, Boston (Booth #1713) – August 1, 2006 --Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc., today announced SOFTIMAGE®|FACE ROBOT™ version 1.5 – an update to the industry’s first software application dedicated to the creation of lifelike facial animation. This release offers a game export solution which allows artists to deliver high quality, in-game acting with detailed facial nuances, with support for all major game platforms. In addition, significant performance improvements to the software have also been implemented, and support for the new Mova™ Contour™ Reality Capture system is now included.

“New game platforms coupled with consumer demand for better acting is quickly making the face a critical factor in game production. Face Robot software has been an effective tool for rendered animation, and with this update we are taking the next step forward to accelerate getting life-like facial animation into games,” said Michael Isner, manager of Special Projects for Softimage. “Now artists can simply take a face mesh, apply motion capture or key frames, edit and tune the acting and then transfer into a game-ready asset.”

With the new game export pipeline for Face Robot, artists have a scalable solution where they can add and remove detail on demand. Face Robot software transfers acting into runtime information by using standard bones and weight maps. Wrinkling and facial nuances are transferred by using specialized shaders to blend normal maps through skin stress, offering artists an efficient process to achieve high-quality in-game acting with detailed facial nuances.

Key features of the game export solution include:

# Automatic enveloping: Careful preservation of facial nuances around the mouth, with added focus on the volumetric quality of the lips - even with a minimal number of bones.
# Paint-based exporting: Artists can dictate the level optimization of anything from the number of masks, through to bone locations and influence.
# Tuning of real-time data: Easy adjustment of wrinkle intensity and shading parameters after export.
# Support for custom deformation: It’s now possible to add layers of customized rigging, shape and simulation, and then export them.

Performance Enhancements
The Face Robot v.1.5 software application has been optimized to dramatically speed up animation playback while maintaining the highest quality deformations. Since the majority of animation tuning occurs around the mouth, particular attention has been taken to optimize the proxy mouth playback mode.

Face Robot Pipeline for Mova™ Contour™ reality capture system
By using a pipeline that allows the upcoming Mova Contour Reality Capture system to export data directly into the Face Robot environment, a powerful new end-to-end facial animation pipeline for both film and game production will soon be available. The high-quality motion data provided by Contour will allow Face Robot software to produce facial animation from highly detailed reference data. More information on Contour can be found at www.mova.com.

Designed for studios faced with high-quality or high-volume facial animation requirements, Face Robot software represents a technological breakthrough by enabling professionals to animate a face with higher quality results and in less time than using traditional methods. In just six easy steps, artists can generate faces with natural, organic movement of skin and soft tissue. With built-in support for importing and exporting of Autodesk 3ds Max® and Maya® file formats, Face Robot software works with all major 3D applications and can be easily incorporated into games existing pipelines, offering further interoperability

Pricing and Availability
SOFTIMAGE|FACE ROBOT version 1.5 software is expected to be available in September 2006 for purchase in the following configurations:
- SOFTIMAGE|FACE ROBOT Designer will be available for $94,995 USMSRP, and Designeris a complete environment to prepare, solve and animate faces. Designer includes the tools to define wrinkles and puffing, place tendons and fine-tune the mouth. It also includes all of the functionality of a seat of Animator. In a typical pipeline, a single seat of Designer is used with several seats of Animator.
- SOFTIMAGE|FACE ROBOT Animator will be available for $14,995 USMSRP. Animator animates faces prepared using Designer. Animator is a hybrid environment for both keyframe animation and motion capture. It uses a powerful retargeting algorithm that transfers animation and motion capture across faces and offers high-level tuning controls.

About Softimage Co.
Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc., delivers innovative, character creation and effects tools to animators and digital artists in the film, broadcast, post-production and games industries. Its product line includes SOFTIMAGE|XSI, the industry's only non-destructive character production software, and SOFTIMAGE|FACE ROBOT, the first production toolset that multiplies animation productivity while giving artists precise control. For more information about Softimage, please visit www.softimage.com.

About Avid Technology, Inc.

About Avid Technology, Inc. Avid Technology, Inc. is the world leader in digital nonlinear media creation, management, and distribution solutions, enabling film, video, audio, animation, games, and broadcast professionals to work more efficiently, productively, and creatively. For more information about the company’s Oscarâ, Grammyâ, and Emmyâ award-winning products and services, please visit: www.avid.com.

SOURCE:Softimage Co.

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