Late last year EPFL approached me with an intriguing project. What they needed was a new, high quality avatar which was to be driven by the excellent facial capture software Faceshift.
The way the system works is the Faceshift plugin is directly connected to an XBox Kinect camera. This then reads the facial data and applies it to the character in Maya, in realtime. So as you talk and emote, so does the avatar. Its an impressive piece of software and you should visit their site and check out the promotional videos to see it in action.
My role was to work closely with both EPFL and Faceshift to design, build and texture Annabelle initially before adding skin shaders and hair dynamics. I then moved on to generate a complex facial rig consisting of 48 blendshapes as well as a full suite of controls.
The final stage was to prepare the scene with the correct lighting and settings so she could also be rendered once the animation was eventually baked onto the rig.
I hope at some point to have some footage of her in action which I can share, so please come back to see Annabelle in her first staring role.