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Mixamo’s Facial Expression Capturing Technology Helps Indie Developers Speed Up Character Animation

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Unity Game Engine To Get Official 2D Game Support And A Built-In Ad Solution

Mixamo, a startup that helps game developers animate 3D characters in their games and apps, is launching something pretty neat today. Face Plus is a service that lets developers animate characters simply by recording their facial expressions through a webcam. Basically, you can just sit in front of a webcam and make faces, and your character will make those exact same faces back at you.

The video below explains it best. While they are just targeting this at developers, I could imagine a lot of consumer-facing games or apps that would appeal to kids based on this.

Face Plus cuts out the hassle of having to painstakingly animate each facial expression. And it comes at a time when developers are migrating from simple 2-dimensional games to richer 3-D ones as production costs for hit mobile games continue to rise. To use Face Plus, developers need a webcam, the Unity editor, plus a subscription to Mixamo’s service, which costs $1,500 per year per developer seat.

“We were using a Webcam like the kind you can find for $20 at Best Buy,” said Stefano Corazza, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “It doesn’t require any calibration.”

The service was built with the help of AMD, the semiconductor company that is also a strategic investor in Mixamo. They say AMD helped Mixamo with development of the tool through OpenCL, an open standard for parallel programming of heterogeneous systems.

To develop it, they had to train their software with hundreds of images and videos of people from different ethnic backgrounds, ages and genders all with many different facial expressions.

The company has raised about $11 million to date and has clients including Microsoft, EA, Sony, Blizzard and Gameloft.