Session details


Friday May 05
Virtual Humans Forum: Facial Performance Capture and Expressive Translation for King Kong

Mark Sagar, Special Projects Supervisor on King Kong , Weta Digital

To successfully convey and translate the most ferocious to the most subtle and soulful moments (often expressed purely through the eyes) from actor Andy Serkis’s performance to the face of King Kong required innovative motion capture and processing techniques.

Rather than directly driving facial puppet geometry with motion capture markers, the motion capture data is first transformed into an expression space (based on Paul Ekman's Facial Action Coding System), breaking the direct geometric connection. The contribution of eye gaze direction on expression is also solved for enabling indirect yet accurate tracking of eye movement.
The expression components are then mapped from human to their Gorilla equivalents defined (in a physically plausible but art directable way) by animation controls on the Kong creature facial puppet. A special GUI was created which allows both visualization and manipulation of the muscle groups directly in Maya.

In this way motion capture data is directly converted to intuitively simple facial expression animation curves which are easy to manipulate for motion editing and combining with animation if performance changes are called for.

Dr. Mark Sagar specializes in facial motion capture, animation and rendering technologies and is currently the Special Projects Supervisor on “King Kong” at Weta Digital in New Zealand.

Mark was R&D Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks for “Spider-Man 2” and “Monster House” (to be released in 2006) and prior to that was the technology co-founder of LifeFX Inc. which achieved breakthroughs in photorealistic digital actors for film and real-time interactive digital faces for internet applications.

Mark Sagar
Special Projects Supervisor on King Kong
Weta Digital

Weta Digital Ltd is an Academy Award winning visual effects facility based in Wellington, New Zealand.
Weta Digital offers world class visual effects for international feature films and commercials; providing a total in-house service from conceptual design right through to state of the art 3D animation.
The company is best known for its visual effects work on New Line Cinema’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Universal Pictures’ King Kong.

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