Sofien Bouaziz, Mark Pauly (Dir.)


Realtime Face Tracking and Animation

EPFL PhD Thesis No. 6666


Capturing and processing human geometry, appearance, and motion is at the core of computer graphics, computer vision, and human-computer interaction. The high complexity of human geometry and motion dynamics, and the high sensitivity of the human visual system to variations and subtleties in faces and bodies make the 3D acquisition and reconstruction of humans in motion a challenging task. Digital humans are often created through a combination of 3D scanning, appearance acquisition, and motion capture, leading to stunning results in recent feature films. However, these methods typically require complex acquisition systems and substantial manual post-processing. As a result, creating and animating high-quality digital avatars entails long turn-around times and substantial production costs. Recent technological advances in RGB-D devices, such as Microsoft Kinect, brought new hopes for realtime, portable, and affordable systems allowing to capture facial expressions as well as hand and body motions. RGB-D devices typically capture an image and a depth map. This permits to formulate the motion tracking problem as a 2D/3D non-rigid registration of a deformable model to the input data. We introduce a novel face tracking algorithm that combines geometry and texture registration with pre-recorded animation priors in a single optimization. This led to unprecedented face tracking quality on a low cost consumer level device. The main drawback of this approach in the context of consumer applications is the need for an offline user-specific training. Robust and efficient tracking is achieved by building an accurate 3D expression model of the user's face who is scanned in a predefined set of facial expressions. We extended this approach removing the need of a user-specific training or calibration, or any other form of manual assistance, by modeling online a 3D user-specific dynamic face model. In complement of a realtime face tracking and modeling algorithm, we developed a novel system for animation retargeting that allows learning a high-quality mapping between motion capture data and arbitrary target characters. We addressed one of the main challenges of existing example-based retargeting methods, the need for a large number of accurate training examples to define the correspondence between source and target expression spaces. We showed that this number can be significantly reduced by leveraging the information contained in unlabeled data, i.e. facial expressions in the source or target space without corresponding poses. Finally, we present a novel realtime physics-based animation technique allowing to simulate a large range of deformable materials such as fat, flesh, hair, or muscles. This approach could be used to produce more lifelike animations by enhancing the animated avatars with secondary effects. We believe that the realtime face tracking and animation pipeline presented in this thesis has the potential to inspire numerous future research in the area of computer-generated animation. Already, several ideas presented in thesis have been successfully used in industry and this work gave birth to the startup company faceshift AG.