Aug.15, 2012

Physical face cloning is a complex task that intersects with numerous research areas from computer graphics, applied mathematics, and material sciences. To deliver realistic performances, an animatronic character must produce a vast range of facial expressions with different deformations and wrinkles.

Researchers at Disney Research, Zürich, ETH Zürich, and Walt Disney Imagineering R&D have developed a new computational face cloning method they say could great simplify and speed up the process.

This new system not only automatically maps, reconstructs and removes facial hair, but also creates lifelike synthetic skin for animatronic characters.

(Left: photograph and scanned 3D geometry of a human face. We use a physics-based optimization process to design the geometry of a synthetic skin in order to best match given target expressions. Right: ?nal animatronic ?gure with fabricated skin.)

The process starts with measuring the elastic properties of a material used to manufacture synthetic soft tissue. As per the measurements, the physics-based simulation is used for predicting the face behavior while it is driven by the fundamental robotic actuation.

Next, various 3D facial expressions of the human subject are captured with an optical performance capture system. The data is used to make a composition of synthetic skin to best match the human subject. This processing improves the realism of the animatronic face.

"With our method, we can simply create a robotic clone of a real person," said Dr. Bernd Bickel, researcher at Disney Research, Zürich. "The custom digitally designed skin can be fabricated using injection molding and modern rapid prototyping technology. We 3D print a mold and use elastic silicon with properties similar to human skin as base material". Their findings were presented at ACM SIGGRAPH 2012, the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.


"Our research focuses on the creation of the silicone skin," explained Dr. Peter Kaufmann, researcher at Disney Research, Zürich. "We use computation to carefully modify the thickness of the skin across the face, leading to deformations that closely match those of the real human."


Prof. Markus Gross, director of Disney Research, Zürich, applauded the results, stating, "This innovative research builds upon our heritage in 'Audio-Animatronics' pioneered by Walt Disney himself. Physical face cloning enables us to create personalized animatronic figures based on real individuals with a level of fidelity and realism never before possible."

A research paper (PDF) on the new face cloning method can be found here.


Source: Disney Research


Posted in 3D Technology



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