Animation R&D studio Kickstand has released StretchMesh, a breakthrough in character deformation technology for animation production. Kickstand's Core Deformation Technology StretchMesh calculates the local coordinates of polygonal vertices to achieve stretchy deformations that look and behave like skin without the need for complicated muscle systems or simulation.
"StretchMesh enables a whole new level of interactivity and realism in character technology," said Daniel Dawson, Kickstand Partner and StretchMesh creator.
Dawson added, "From complicated regions like the human shoulder to expressive regions like a character's face, StretchMesh provides a natural stretchy response that is quick to implement and easily art-directed." Oleg Alexander, Lead Technical Artist at Image Metrics, Santa Monica said, "StretchMesh is a blend shape artist's dream come true. Its unique ability to use attractors and collision objects in real time makes the blend shape modeling process extremely intuitive and enjoyable. It properly maintains edge spacing which reduces texture stretching. It can also be used as a skin relaxation deformer at render time."
As an Autodesk Maya plug-in, StretchMesh is currently being integrated into multiple feature film and commercial pipelines and Kickstand is investigating its use as a real-time deformer for next-generation gaming platforms. On the horizon is FaceLift, a collection of tools and templates that take the power of StretchMesh and apply it specifically to character faces.