1st March 2010.
Cubic Motion has announced that its pricing range for facial animation in video games will start at $7 per second for low-complexity characters, rising to a maximum of $32 per second for the most complex characters currently possible in games. For low-volume projects there is usually a small per-character setup charge. Mike Jones, Cubic Motion's Director of Production explained: "We feel it's important for potential users of performance-based animation to know that the process can be extremely affordable."
The UK-based animation consultancy creates custom software for clients but also builds in-house pipelines for clients who wish to outsource their facial animation directly to Cubic Motion. Dr. Steve Caulkin, Cubic's Chief Scientific Officer explains: "The key to offering such low cost, high-quality animation for games is that we don't rely on a single pipeline or any particular technology - instead we have a scientific team who rapidly identify the appropriate technologies based on the particular project. Facial animation is far more diverse than many people appreciate, and what is right for one client may not work for another. A lot depends on the choices the client makes about rigs and their chosen game engine. The client also has to think about whether a marker-based approach is best for them and whether audio-based animation may be an appropriate addition to the overall approach. As for specific technologies, a few years ago, choices were very limited, but now things have changed. For example, you only need to scan recent SIGGRAPH proceedings, to see just how many excellent techniques are available in the public domain. This fact, alongside the growing maturity of powerful open-source machine vision libraries such as OpenCV, is great news for all in the industry, but with this choice, navigating the space and identifying the 'best' solution has actually become more difficult. We're not tied to any single technology - instead we're trying to provide an expert-led gateway into custom solutions. The result is pipelines that are tightly crafted to a particular project, resulting in much lower overall costs."
Cubic Motion was founded in 2009 by Mike Jones, Doug Tate and Dr. Steven Dorning. The scientific team includes Dr. Gareth Edwards, co-inventor of the Active Appearance Model, and Dr. Steve Caulkin. The company's advisers include Professor Chris Taylor FrEng OBE, Associate Vice President of Research at Manchester University, and Andy Wood, a games industry veteran and director of Peter Gabriel's Real World. The company's future plans include a range of standalone products, particularly in the field of real-time animation.