The LIFESTUDIO:HEAD by Lifemode Interactive offers unique high-end software for creating innovative heads and mastering facial animation including automated lip-synch. LIFESTUDIO:HEAD can help integrating your processes in one streamlined workflow from artwork production to the real-time execution on multiple platforms.
LIFESTUDIO:HEAD technology was specially designed for effective facial animation in real-time applications. Computer games are just one application, but LIFESTUDIO:HEAD can be used for various other functions such as creating video presentations, talking heads and computer secretary. These are a few genre examples of the applications where the tool kit can be used.
In almost no time at all, an artist can easily produce very quick results within the LIFESTUDIO:HEAD environment with the help of a comprehensive set of model prototypes, texture constructor and animation libraries. The tool kit is also extremely open-ended, so you can master your specific head models in 3ds max or Maya, as well as customize almost every other component like animation libraries or textures. An artist can create talking humans, animals, aliens, creatures, or even a talking soap box within the same technology.
One of the most remarkable features of the technology is cross-compatibility of all graphical assets (models, textures and animations) so that any character could play any animation. The result can be output as an AVI or set of OBJ files in the Editor tool, or rendered in 3ds max or Maya, or it can be used by the LIFESTUDIO:HEAD API – in a facial animation engine, which may be included into user applications.
Bricks of emotions
Artists dealing with facial animation mostly create head morph targets with emotions and lip-synch. LIFESTUDIO:HEAD technology makes it possible for AI routine to do some work for the artist. The system was made well balanced and smart enough: human intelligence can create a set of parameterized emotions - Macro-Muscles, and dull artificial intelligence can use them in real time. Thanks to LIFESTUDIO:HEAD software, mixing different Macro-Muscles gives a visually recognizable effect; instead of making the whole animation an artist creates bricks of emotions, and the whole animation can be generated later in real-time. This is a key to non-linear animation. Of course to get the best results an artist may create the whole animation instead of AI - this process becomes easy being based on the comprehensive library.
To create a head, an artist can start with a prototype and sculpt a head model changing its mesh form with the help of about hundred sliders. A hierarchy of sliders cascades from general features like gender, race or age to subtle features like lip thickness or nose bridge length, this makes creating process smooth and fast. If you do not like the slider set, then add your own slider or modify the existing one. Select from a giant texture library and built-in texture constructor to create an appropriate texture. Simply get a base texture and add make-up, wrinkles, scars, moles, moustaches etc. You can add more features by exporting the resulting texture, fine-tune it in any 2D editor and load back into the LIFESTUDIO:HEAD program. As a result of the whole process you will get a head model - with up to four LOD produced automatically! To save more time, use head generation facility and select the head you like from an unlimited range of different heads.
To animate a head, you load facial expressions to the timeline using the animation library with dozens of predefined emotions and animation fragments. Add sound files and generate tracks with lip-synch data. If you add a smile, your character will speak while smiling. You do not need to change lip-synch tracks. By adding eye tracking, your character will follow the target while head turns. You may even animate the pupil size, and of course you may update the animation library - add your own items or edit the existing ones.
At any time after you finish animating, you may change lip-synch tracks keeping other animations untouched, for example for localization to another language. With a proper game data structure you may use the benefit of a console converting routine that generates lip-synch tracks for a new language in batch mode and drastically reduce time for localization.
Integrating into 3ds Max and Maya
LIFESTUDIO:HEAD Muscles Setup plug-ins for Autodesk® 3ds Max or Maya brings the technology to custom heads not based on predefined prototypes, while Import-Export plug-ins allows rendering animations in full-featured 3ds Max or Maya's scenes.
Real-time applications on different platforms
LIFESTUDIO:HEAD SDK allows you to incorporate all the power of the technology into your own application on PC, Playstation 2, Xbox or Xbox 360. You get the benefit of cross compatibility and non-linear animation. If the player of a game pushes the button and something blows up, exactly at this moment the AI can force the game character to react and get frightened.
The currently used speech recognition method cannot generate lip-sync in real-time. It is not a strong limitation for games because if you have a collection of pre-recorded speech sound files you can easily pre-render lip-sync. And if the application is using some of text-to-speech packages which can generate phonemes on-the-fly then lip-synching can also be done in real-time.
When porting an application its code and data should be highly optimised to get the best of a game console. The porting pipeline with the LIFESTUDIO:HEAD SDK is smooth enough: all optimisation is performed by converters in batch mode so no additional manual work is needed.
In addition to facial animation the SDK allows head constructing and even head generation - you may create a character in real-time or generate a crowd of people with different faces for each scene.
Sophisticated but easy
LIFESTUDIO:HEAD is sophisticated in depth but easy to use. The interface is intuitive and many templates are supplied so it is easy to get the results based on ready-made assets. If you want to customize some of the assets it will take more effort, but a step sequence can be easily explained. If you desire, you may even create all libraries from scratch, but you may have to do a lot of work on structuring and setting a good balance between well-defined components.
Now with LIFESTUDIO:HEAD, game developers and 3D artists can push the boundaries of facial animation and lip-synching realism and can create truly amazing character animation for the best games in the World.