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VWN Product Reviews: Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right

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Site Shop > Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right




An expressive face is a work of art. Constantly moving and changing. Lips, brows, frown lines, each is in constant motion. Stop Staring analyses facial structures and movements, then shows animators how to bring life to the faces of their characters.

The book is written in a friendly, dryly witty style. The author?s own statement says it all really: "I am by no means God?s gift to animation, but I do pretty well at making a talking head look like a living one, not just a set of gums flapping."

The book concentrates on using as much detail as possible to create the right movements for a given situation and emotion. The companion CD includes all the pieces readers will need in order to work along with the text: models, lip-synching samples, finished Quicktime movies, and even a copy of Maya Personal Learning Edition in case the reader has no 3D modelling and animation software.

Starting off by getting the readers to know the face, and its constructs in great detail, the book deals with syncing audio streams to mouth movements, rigging the muscles so eyes and brows or nose and mouth move as one, or the whole head morphs and deforms.

The technique for modelling uses multiple blend shapes then using a spline box divided four ways to control facial movements. This means you can control the mouth, eyes, or brow independently, or as a unit, and it takes you through step by step forming this structure. The only issue is the rig ultimately contains forty blend shapes per face. All 40 are needed for the full range of human facial expression, but can be a drain on resources when a lot of people are gathered together.

The book can be used as a step-by-step guide for learning new skills or finessing techniques, or as a reference book for troubleshooting specific expressions (for example, "happy eyes," "frustration," and "sneers" are all in the index). Although the projects are presented using Maya, the concepts involved can be applied to any animation package.

 

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