A recent patent filed by EA suggests the company is looking for new ways to handle facial animations.
EA Files Patent For Next-Gen Facial Animations
Despite being a common controversial topic, EA does sometimes push the boundaries in terms of technology in regards to games. Its latest patent hints the company has improved character rendering techniques. No doubt this will help take full advantage of newer, stronger consoles.
As reported via Game Rant, the patent includes what is described as “universal facial expression translation and character rendering system.” Several previously released titles emphasize realism including Madden 21 and FIFA 21. In addition, these also debuted on next generation hardware with upgrades. Within next gen version of the games, players have noted vastly improved lighting and rendering. This new system appears to aim to bring that same improvement to the characters and facial expressions.
The system allows facial animations and expressions to be more sophisticated when translated to 3D face models. Facial shapes would be “associated with a facial shape identifier,” which “indicates a type of adjustment of facial characteristics.” These facial shapes are then stored in a database. From there, animators will link them to a specific character. Then, a character’s 3D face model could be rendered with characteristics based on their associated shape identifiers.
Looking towards the future
With visual examples, it’s hard to say how well this will improve character expressions. Given the term “universal”, the system may be bigger or rather not isolated to one game. EA has long since put most of their franchises on the Frostbite engine. If the databases storing facial data links to the engine rather than individual IPs at a given time, this could potentially cut down mass amount of time spent on building face animations. Artists could then use a pool of ready made animations across all teams, improving on them as needed.
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