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Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
Having a hard time bringing emotions to your characters? Animating faces is really difficult. Ask the developers behind the brilliant animation of Injustice 2. Here is something that might help you solve the problem.
The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is a set facial muscle movements that correspond to a displayed emotion. The whole thing started in 1970 when Carl-Herman Hjortsjö described 23 facial motion units and then continued by Paul Ekman, and Wallace Friesen. The latest version of the FACS was first published in 1978 and updated in 2002.
Here are some of the units:
You can find other units here.
The system is used to determine the displayed emotion of a participant. In fact, it is the only technique that can help you assess emotions in real-time.
Researchers used to manually code video recordings of participants according to the action units described by the FACS, but now the process is now automated with tools like iMotions.
When measuring facial expressions within iMotions, the stimuli are paired automatically to the FACS analysis, allowing you to pinpoint the exact moment that the stimulus triggered a certain emotion. The FACS is also graded on a scale of intensity, which gives a measure of how strongly the emotion is displayed. These measurements can also be synchronized with recordings of galvanic skin response, which provides a measure of arousal. With this information combined, it’s possible to start drawing conclusions about how strongly an individual felt, and what those emotions consisted of, in response to a set stimulus.
Want to know more about facial expressions? Here is a free guide that might help you out.