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Avid Introduces Face Robot

Avid Technology is showcasing its new facial animation technology, Softimage|Face Robot, for the first time publicly this week at SIGGRAPH, where attendees can preview the system at the Avid Computer Graphics booth #1401. Blur Studios, which is using Face Robot, will be at the show exhibiting some of the work it created with the software. Face Robot uses a facial soft tissue computer model that mimics a humans full emotional range, allowing 3D artists to create life-like facial animation for high-end films, games and post-production. The company describes the package, which was years in the making, as a new category of computer graphics that offers artists an intuitive way to interact with CG characters and, at the same time, gives them precise control over details such as flaring nostrils or wrinkles.

The soft tissue model allows artists to work with an optimal number of control points and eliminates the need to manually create dozens of 3D shapes for different expressions. Softimage|Face Robot supports both keyframe animation and motion capture.

"On our projects, digital acting is important and the face is the most critical piece," said Tim Miller, creative director/co-founder of Blur Studio in Los Angeles. "There were no tools on the market that could get us close to the quality we wanted, so we began to work with Softimage on a solution. Face Robot has made a huge difference in the quality of the facial animation of our characters. For the first time, I look forward to the moment when the characters stop beating each other up and have a little chat!"

Jeff Wilson, animation supervisor at Blur Studio adds, "Creating believable facial animation is very important because the face is fundamental in understanding emotion. It is also very difficult because facial expressions emerge primarily from deformations of the soft tissue on the face, which is nearly impossible to capture with existing 3D software. Face Robot removes the cumbersome, repetitive work of legacy approaches and allows us to focus on bringing a character to life.

SOFTIMAGE|XSI (www.softimage.com) is a complete 3D modeling and animation solution for the film, broadcast, post-production and interactive entertainment industries. Softimage is a subsidiary of Avid Technology Inc.

Avid Technology (www.avid.com), headquartered in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, is a world leader in digital nonlinear media creation, management, and distribution solutions, enabling film, video, audio, animation, games and broadcast professionals to work more efficiently, productively and creatively.

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