Avid has released Softimage|Face Robot, the facial animation technology it showed off at last year's Siggraph show in Los Angeles. The standalone application was created in tandem with Blur Studio, the animation studio behind the Oscar-nominated short film, Gopher Broke.

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Avid claims that the software is the first to allow artists to achieve realistic, lifelike facial animation for high-end film, post and games projects. It

Softimage|Face Robot supports both keyframe animation and motion capture, which are the main two ways of creating ‘digital acting’. Avid says that the soft tissue model at the core of the technology removes the need to manually create dozens or even hundreds of 3-D shapes for different facial expressions and allows animators to work with an optimal number of control points. It also claims that keyframe animators can gain very direct, intuitive access to facial expressions, while motion capture animators can work with fewer markers to reduce setup and cleanup time.

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Its features include an integrated facial soft tissue solver, direct manipulation of face controls, a visual animation interface, iterative performance refinement tools, and animation retargeting. It supports point caching with all of the major 3D applications, according to Avid, with the import and export of Maya .mb and .fbx, 3ds Max .max, Point Oven .psc, LightWave .lwo2 file - plus .C3D Motion file import.
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Softimage|Face Robot will ship this month in two configurations. Softimage|Face Robot Designer costs $94,995 (around £55,000) and includes a full toolset for rigging and animating faces. Face Robot Animator costs $14,995 (around £8,690) and allows faces created in the Designer version to be animated using keyframe and motion capture data.
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