12th September 2011: For immediate release
MANCHESTER, UK. Cubic Motion, a leading supplier of advanced facial animation services to TV, film and video game developers, today launched a new service for the production of high-quality facial animation without the overhead of facial capture. Cubic Motion has continued to build on its capture-free animation technologies to deploy this revolutionary system capable of handling extremely large projects, priced at just $200 per minute for high-volume work.
The new service is intended to address a growing problem in game development, where price and time constraints force developers to use low-quality facial animation for the bulk of a game, only using highly produced animation for selected shots.
Dr. Gareth Edwards, Cubic's CEO explained: "The variation in the quality of facial animation within a single game is a serious flaw when it comes to sustaining a coherent immersive experience. Gamers will become far less tolerant of poor animation, no matter how much effort studios put into 'hero shots'. In any other art-form, repeated switching from high to low quality would be unacceptable,
but game developers are forced down this path due to the time and expense of producing high-end work. This problem is only going to get bigger; we see regular announcements of new ideas for creating great high-end content, but what's really needed is the ability to bring a whole game up to a high standard. Not everyone has the budget of say, L.A.Noire, or the same amount of development
time, so we've set out to smash the existing pricing models and turnaround times for high-volume, high-quality content."
The service doesn't require the client to perform any facial capture, ensuring that there are no additional costs beyond recording the dialogue. Cubic Motion only requires audio and performance notes, from which they deliver final quality animation curves on the controls of the developer’s own facial rigs, or on rigs built by Cubic themselves. Since the output is just normal animation data it can
be integrated with any pipeline and easily combined with body motion capture. In addition to this new low-cost service, Cubic Motion soon plans to launch an animation compression system, compatible with all game engines, to allow highly-efficient storage of very large volumes of content without loss of integrity.
Cubic Motion claims that despite the low cost, the results can be as good as, or sometimes exceed, those achieved with performance capture, as Mike Jones, Head of Production explained: "Facial performance capture has a role in this industry, and it’s something we're pretty good at, but the idea that it’s the only way to achieve high-quality animation is just wrong. Performance capture can be very powerful, but is not without challenges. One of the most often overlooked points is that you can get incredibly powerful voice performances from artists who are not necessarily great facial performers - why should great VO artists be excluded from contributing to great animated content?
Moreover the overall cost of performance capture - not just the animation, but the studio time and direction - means in many cases it’s too expensive and time-consuming to use across an entire game. We urge developers to take a look at what we can do - an understanding of the low cost, and the
massive volumes available can transform people's thinking. We don't expect people to take our word for it - Cubic always runs free tests on client assets."
An example of the standard of facial movement delivered for $200 per minute can be seen online at: http://bit.ly/nnZ076
Cubic has commenced a partnering scheme with audio studios around the world to provide a fully integrated solution for VO and animation - in many cases, offering next day turnaround from audio recording to delivery of final animation curves.
About Cubic Motion
Cubic Motion www.cubicmotion.com is a unique studio specializing in products and services for world-class facial animation, providing large volume solutions to many of the world’s leading game developers and VFX studios. Cubic is run by a group of scientists, artists and producers - all with extensive experience in movies, video games and television. The studio uses advanced technical processes and expert artists to accelerate animation production from any data source, including video, audio and motion capture.