Half-Life developer looks to raise the bar with new 'expression capture system'

Valveâ??s Gollum animator lauds expression-tech deal

Indie giant Valve is set to partner with renowned UK-based ‘facial expression modeling’ firm Dimensional Imaging to develop games using cutting-edge animation tech.

Valve’s senior animator Bay Raitt – who built Gollum’s facial system for The Lord of the Rings trilogy – welcomed the new deal, confirming that the developer is looking to use Dimensional’s tech with future game projects.

“Running pre-release tests of Dimensional Imaging’s new expression capture system at Valve has shown great promise for reducing the time needed to create next generation character animation,” said Raitt.

“Valve is looking to integrate the use of this exciting new technology in future products.”

He added that the challenge for today’s game developers is the “huge amount of effort” required to build an expected level of detail in game worlds and in game characters.

Dimensional Imaging – based in the Scottish city of Glasgow – has hitherto focused its technology for use in the health sector. The groups’ 3D facial animation tech helps surgeons reconstruct patients’ facial features – a task which evidently requires a remarkable degree of precision.

However, the Glaswegian company is looking to expand its services further, showing the newest version of its “expression capture” system to game developers and film producers.

The tech is designed to capture high-definition models of different facial expressions, before blending the images into shapes to integrate into a game’s facial animation system.

“The level of detail and realism required by today’s video- games presents a huge opportunity for Dimensional Imaging,” said company CEO Dr Colin Urquhart.

"Several leading game developers have already completed projects that used our facial and head capture systems to instantaneously capture that required level of detail and realism,” he added.

“We’ve been working with Bay Raitt and Valve for some time to create a super efficient pipeline for blend shape creation and we’re delighted that our new expression capture system promises to make such a huge difference to their process. We are also very excited to see the incredible detail and realism of game character that our systems and software will help Valve to achieve in future games”.

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