CSC2529S: Modelling and Animating Human Faces

CSC2529S: Modelling and Animating Human Faces

Lectures: 10-1pm, Mondays (starting 10 January)
Location: Bahen Centre for Information Technology, Room B024
Instructor: Chris Landreth.

From the moment we were born, we have been hard-wired to see the minute details of human faces. We recognize a friend we haven't seen in 30 years, we know when someone is faking a smile, we sense something is wrong when a person breaks eye contact for a half second. We know when a face is 'right' or 'wrong' within a moment of looking at it. For these reasons, mastering the human face is one of the most important kills of CG artists in the field of character animation, and it also poses some important scientific and technical challenges.

This course will explore the art, as well as the science, of the human face. We will focus on observing human faces, and recreating and animating the faces of CGI human characters. For this course, a solid background in computer graphics is essential, but an artistic curiosity about the form and movement of humans and CG characters is just as important.

The course format is 13 weeks of one meeting per week. The first third of the course (4 sessions) will focus on observing and drawing faces from different views, and exploring the biomechanics of the face through the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), created by Paul Ekman in 1978. The middle third of the course (4 sessions) will focus on using these principles to build (rig) an expressive, animatable CG face in the animation program Maya. The final third (5 sessions) will focus on animating--'acting out'--faces in Maya. Here you will learn about recreating the expressions of eye movement, emotional subtext in facial muscles, and 'microexpressions' in facial acting.

Each course session will include exercises that will account for 5 to 10 percent of the total grade. By the last session, each student will have sufficiently mastered the art of rigging and animating a CG face model to create a short sequence of facial animation, using film or captured audio dialogue of his/her choosing. This exercise will cover 25% of the total grade.

The final component of your grade will be a technical project on a mutually agreed upon topic that models, simulates or controls some aspect of facial animation or workflow.


Lecture Schedule.

Additional Content

  1. Lecture 1 slides.
  2. Lecture 2 slides.
  3. Lecture 3 slides.
  4. Lecture 4 slides.
  5. Blockheads quicktime video.
  6. Valley Girl video.
  7. An assortment of skulls.
  8. Genevieve making faces.
  9. Angela Face Scene Files (zip format).