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Digital Humans In Video Games Look More Realistic Than Ever Thanks To This Facial Rig

As rigging demos go this real-time facial rig demo by Snappers is an eye-popping display of technical prowess.

Snappers’ Advanced Rig is an adaptive rig that allows combining any number of expressions using an optimized list of blendshapes. The FACS-based rig logic simulates real facial muscle constraints and is compatible with all game engines and animation packages. The demo below runs real-time on Unreal Engine 4:

Snappers is hardly a secret in the gaming world. Their facial rigging tech is currently used to create digital humans for triple-A titles like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Mafia III, Injustice 2, and was also employed on Guillermo del Toro’s latest feature, The Shape of Water.

Snappers points out these additional features of the rig:

  • Advanced skin shader (for Maya and Unreal): holds up to 16 wrinkles maps and 16 dynamic diffuse maps with micro details and pores stretching.
  • Easy to manipulate using facial controllers and/or GUI.
  • Smooth transition between all the expressions.
  • Adjustment layer: freeform manipulation of multiple regions of the face to create unlimited variations of the same expression.

To get a sense of the progress that has been made in just the last few years, compare the rig above to this Snappers facial rig from 2014:

  • TalonsofIceandFire

    While it is impressive to see this level of detail in the facial expressions. It still doesn’t look realistic enough for me to not make any distinction between them and an actual human face. In fact, there is that uncanny valley vibe.

  • Mark

    They’re getting really close! Pretty soon they’ll be at the stage where they’ll be able to put actual real people right in front of the camera and have them act out the story and scenes. Once the safety protocols are in place so these real people don’t lose their soul while their pictures are being taken, the producers will be able to get this film processed and we’ll be able to sit down and really be amazed at how, like, real these real people are.

  • Jiff

    Still creepy.

  • GW

    I wonder what would happen if they tried to pass off a real person as an animated character test in front of a black background like this one. Would people say it looks realistic, realize that it’s a real person or say that it creeps them out and looks totally fake?

    • Dáibhí wotshissurname

      Damn, now you got me wondering