AMD has announced that it collaborated with software company Mixamo in the production of the newly launched 'Face Plus' plug-in application for Unity games developers. Mixamo's Face Plus is designed to make 3D character facial expression animation fast (in real-time) and realistic using just a standard webcam and a computer that supports OpenCL 1.1 or newer, like a PC powered by an AMD A-Series APU or GPU.
Face Plus facilitates markerless facial capture and animation in real-time. Mixamo says it is "the world’s first facial capture and animation technology delivered directly inside a 3D game engine". Appealing to thrift and convenience the firm says users can cut out expensive equipment and the to-and-fro of importing and exporting 3D models. A developer who is capable of facial expressions can act out and 'record' any expressions he/she wishes the in-game character to exhibit. This process cuts out a plethora of studio requirements such as "armies of animators and riggers" says Mixamo.
This software plug-in, as mentioned above, is targeted at Unity (4.2) game developers and writes .anim files which are directly editable within the Unity environment, to tweak and to get the results you want. Mixamo intends to help "democratize 3D character art" by helping game and film developers create realistically moving facial expressions to people with even basic setups.
AMD talked about how well Face Plus works upon its processors; "It runs optimally on AMD APUs and GPUs; a system powered by an AMD A10-4600M APU was capable of up to 42 frames-per-second captures in real-time with GPU-acceleration enabled, a 13X performance improvement when compared to using CPU processing alone," read yesterday's AMD press release. The chipmaker also thought this technology could make its way into video games and video conferencing via real-time avatar animations.
The Maximo CEO and co-founder, Stefano Corazza, said he was excited to bring Face Plus to the Unity developer base of nearly two million customers. He talked about how mainstream AMD hardware and an off-the-shelf webcam could be all that is required by a game maker to "deliver real-time high-fidelity facial capture and animation for 3D characters". Also he reiterated the company aim, to "democratise 3D character art."
Unity Game Engine gets advertising and 2D games support
In related news TechCrunch reported yesterday that Unity "is going 2D". While 2D games production was previously possible with the Unity "build once, run anywhere" game engine, it was said to be not as straight forward as it could be. With the Unity 4.3 release this autumn there will be a completely new 2D workflow and associated set of tools. New 2D additions will include a sprite animation editor, a 2D renderer and parallax scrolling functions.
Unity will also introduce Unity Cloud which is a cross platform advertising solution. Developers can then easily set up advertising to help monetise their game. Ads will be able to be controlled via a web interface so, for instance, you could disable all ads until the game becomes popular or you could create ads for the sequel once it has been developed.