Blog Entry – Research and Project Updates 5

After months of working on Permadeath the opera, I was given the opportunity to work backstage during the performance. Prior to this, I had never worked in a theater. I signed on as manager of the real time facial animation system, Faceware live. Luckily, the system setup, that I originally help create, worked flawlessly. The system setup was:

  • 2 computers – 1 for each actor
    • 1 computer is for one actor which is passing the data over to the other computer
  • 2 cameras
  • Area lights
  • Unreal Engine 4
  • Faceware Live server

I had one day of training at the last day of rehearsals. Nothing was too different than what I remembered. There were only a few tweaks that the director had updated. Those updates solved most of the issues it originally had. So what did I have to do? I watched over the actors’ faces in the software. Sometimes, the face tracking would get lost and break. One actor’s nose would lose tracking. The other actor’s lips would lose tracking. I had to make sure everything was set before the CGI was called to be played. The actors wiggled or moved around to fix the issues. Besides those minor hiccups, the CGI ran smoothly. We did see one issue where the character, Apollo, mouth was weirdly flapping around. The next day, we suggested a different way to act that scene out and it was fixed. From what I was told, no one saw the issue. Only two of us that worked on the facial animations saw the problem. I say that is a win. The experience was great. I got to meet and work with many talented individuals. Something I would not have had the chance to do.


Project update

I got in touch with the developer who makes the custom wrapper ( . He kindly sent me the project assets to study and work with. So far, I had little time to dissect the inner workings but I am excited to get the chance too. At first, I couldn’t get the project examples to work but it was simply because I imported the original Kinect plugins. I created a new project and imported the wrapper and it worked. Now what I have to do is create a guideline or create sprints. Without having goals laid out, I feel it is hard to progress. The Kinect has so many things it can do! Once I get the ball rolling, I believe, the project will start to move forward.



Blog Entry – Research and Project Updates 4

As I progress with my research with using the Kinect in Unity. I come to realize how difficult it is to use deprecated devices. I struggle to find documentation on classes and setups.

I have found a few YouTube videos and some tutorials. The main issue is trying to understand each class and what they are doing and what are they are connected too. On the positive side, I did get the Kinect to register and run in Unity.

The Kinect fired up and worked with out a problem. One tutorial used the bodysourcemanger to detect and track a joint to make a 3d gameobject move. I am struggling with the face section, once again I am restricted to limited documentation, I did get a face to be detected.

This linked helped:

I haven’t figured out how to pull a basic expression result out. I am going to have to dig into the plugin classes to figure stuff out. I did find documentation ( but I believe it is for an examples that might use a custom wrapper ( . I am going to email the developer about it. If it is OK, I will research the examples and try to understand the basics before I start diving into the code.

Unfortunately, I will have limited time this week for research as I will be working a the Permadeath Opera. As the Techinical Assistant Director of CGI, I am over seeing the Faceware software during the performance. If anything goes wrong, I will be there to react and fix the issue. Prior to this, I was working on some technical work. I have been working on fixing some skin weights for some characters. One character , Aphrodite, has feathers on her arms as a shirt.

Aphrodite skin was poking through when moving around. I fixed this by simply adjusting some skin weights. Unfortunately, I could do so much since it was hundreds of planes so I tweaked her skin texture. I took the planes and baked it onto her skin texture. From there, I blurred the feathers to make an average color. Now, if there is some “skin” mesh poking through, it will be invisible to the viewer. Another character I adjusted the skin weights was Apollo.

Apollo had some weird skin weights in his face. He was the first Faceware rigged character so it is to be expected he was going to look rough. At first it was an easy fix by pushing and pulling the weights. Ultimately, I had to adjust the transform and rotations of the joints in the Unreal Engine. It took a little more time than I thought but the results show it was the right decision:

The last character I had to tweak was Adonis. The technical director decided the cape needed to be re-worked. Due to time limitations, the cape simulations were scraped for a shorter cape that was going to be bound to the skin. I modified the model to spec and worked on the binding. The bind was a little tricky as the cape supports on his shoulders float. If the characters shoulder joints move, it reacts and moves.

Next week, I will be spending more time researching and developing the Kinect in Unity. For the time being, I will be deciding what should be prioritized and what should be my starting point.