Technical Paper

By Max Rogers

For me the major project was about time management, making sure that I gave every part of the project the necessary time. When I came across the rigging part of my characters I found that video games use a different kind of facial rigging. Video game engines struggle using the blendshape method for the animation of faces therefore they use joints which attach to certain parts of the geometry and are skinned. These can then be animated and in the industry a user interface is used for ease of access and use.

To get a rough idea on where the main spots of the face to add joints look at examples of facial motion capture. The dots used in the picture to the right were the basis used for Amarok’s facial joints. Turn on the wireframe shaded option in the viewer and then place the joints in the relevant places.

Name the joints then select them all and the facial geometry of the character. Go to the Skin option in the panel, edit smooth skin then add influence. Now those joints are bound to skin ready to have their influence painted.

Before heading on to painting the influences of the weights to the geometry, group each joint singly naming it the offset group i.e left_corner_mouth_offset_grp. After every joint has been grouped singly parent each offset group to the neck joint of the character’s rig. This is so that when the character is moved the new joints created will not be left behind, along with the influenced geometry.

Now select the face geometry of the character and select the paint weights option under the skin panel bar

Before painting the weights for the new facial joints make sure that the other influencing joints that aren’t linked with the face geometry are locked. This is to make sure that there is no errors that pop up in the other skinned pieces of geometry.

Move the offset group of a joint into a desired position and then paint the weights to the geometry. Then 0 the translate and rotates to return the joint to its normal position.

After painting all the weights to the face the task now is to set up a control for different emotions and movements for the character by using the driven keys. Creating a circle from the NURBS Primitives and move it to where the eye look control is.

Name the facial control circle and then lock the translate and rotate channels and delete them. Now add attributes to the control circle ready to create specific facial movements and emotions.

Select the face control circle and add it as the driver and then select all the offset groups of the facial joints and add them as the driven. For each face circle control attribute key all the face offset groups in their current and normal position.

After keying all the joints offset groups at zero for each face circle control, select an attribute i.e smile, and change to 30. Now move the offset groups of each joints so that it conveys the correct emotion.

After moving all the offset groups into the desired position for their emotion corresponding to the rig key the offset groups of the joints. Now when the attribute number changes through 0 and 30 it will change into the emotion or desired facial movement and then back to its normal state. Repeat for all the other facial movements required for your character. Don’t forget to add the facial control into the controls section of your characters outliner so that when the character is moved and scaled the control will move with it.

And that is a simple and fast way to create a facial rig for a games character that cannot have blendshapes.

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