Activision’s Facial Character Animation Tech Demo Is Freakily Realistic

One of the best things about any Game Developers Conference is that it's where much of the interesting tech soon to hit our video games is first shown off. It's no surprise, then, that it's been the place to be for advanced character rendering and of course, the Holy Grail of them all, facial animation. While facial animation has come a long way over the years (L.A. Noire was an outstanding example), we've hardly seen a perfect example. In our opinion, though, Activision's demo at this week's GDC could be the closest we've ever come to that. It's again not perfect, but at certain points in the demo video, you may just be freaked out by the realistic reactions of the character.

This demo was crafted by Activision's R&D team, which it showed off during its GDC presentation called "Next Generation Character Rendering". "Demo" implies that it was actually shown in real-time, and it was. According to Activision, the entire thing ran at around 180 FPS using a GeForce GTX 680. Impressive, but bear in mind, it's easier to show demos like this off when there's virtually nothing to render around the character. I'd love to see a company someday show off tech demos like this but actually create a scene out of it. I haven't played a game that involved just looking at a face before, and I am not sure I have great interest to.

The face data was acquired from USC Institute for Creative Technologies, and was then converted to a 70 bones rig, with some polish applied with the help of DirectX 11. For even more examples of what's possible with this technology, I'd recommend hitting up this blog. Some of the models are simply mind-blowing - easily mistakable in some cases for a real photo.

Who wants to guess when we'll first see this tech appear in a video game?