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Fresh & Fast Blender Facial Animation Workflow


Free Blender AutoSetup plugin instantly sets up characters from Character Creator to Blender. 

Martin Klekner is a freelance director and CG artist from Prague, Czech Republic who is also a Blender specialist, an instructor on, and an Ancient Greece enthusiast.

Ever since Martin started creating his personal projects, he always dreamed of a possibility to create animations for believable CG characters, driven by a captured performance of actors. He got his first taste of such a technology at Warhorse Studios, working on cinematics for Kingdom Come Deliverance. However, the question he pondered the most was - “Can talking animations be done by one person, at home, using a software one can afford?” 

Martin found his answer in a new Blender Character pipeline combining the power of Blender with using Character Creator and iClone for the characters. 

Complementary Workflow between Blender, iClone and Character Creator

Easily generating believable, fully-rigged characters

Next-Gen Character Creation & Animation

Two iClone technologies in particular interested him - animating faces with Live Face tool and generating lipsync with the new AccuLips. And then of course, sending everything to Blender, ideally with just a few clicks. Fortunately, all the tools advanced enough in this area that this was now possible.

One-click transfer from Character Creator to iClone animation

The very first step was of course creating the human base meshes in Character Creator, with the new CC3+ character base capabilities, like more realistic eyes or the new realtime hair collection. Also, using the options provided by the SkinGen texturing tool was a must, layering great looking skin details onto the base texture. The simplicity and automation of the process was the key to making everything in a matter of mere hours. 

“Reallusion tools are allowing me to not only create great looking human meshes, but also to immensely speed up the entire workflow. With the new Skingen and Hair capabilities, CC3+ models now meet (and exceed) all my quality requirements!”, Martin Klekner

Precise auto lip-sync animation directly from voice input.

Once the character’s look was final, the next step was the seamless export to iClone. The fully rigged character was now ready to be animated, both using mocap data and facial animation from LiveFace app. The big new step Martin tried though was using the AccuLips option, generating automated lip movement based on a single voice clip. It provided a base for the rest of the facial animation. 

"Lipsync, something I've always dreaded, has become a simple and enjoyable task for me with AccuLips and LIVE FACE.", Martin Klekner

Using the iPhone LIVE FACE app, Martin followed with recording his own facial performance, layering animation tracks for eyes, brows, mouth and head movement, blending everything together and letting iClone automatically smooth the tracks with the new Smooth option, removing the jerky facial movements one usually gets. Finally, the extensive ActorCore library was a great source for choosing a body animation, to achieve a final animated result. 

Best of breed multi-pass iPhone facial motion capture

AutoSetup to Blender

With the animation done, it was time to export everything to Blender. The format he used was the FBX with Blender preset set. Importing to the 3D tool was as easy as using the freely available CC3 addon. With a single click, the FBX was automatically set up in Blender, ready to use both in Cycles and the realtime renderer Eevee, of course, with fully editable materials.

Adjustable digital human shader for Blender Eevee render

Eevee was in fact the renderer used to render out the final shot, which meant realtime preview and thus, speeding up the workflow again. All in all, thanks to the automated tools by Reallusion, Martin was able to make the shot in just a single day.

Learn more about Character Creator to Blender design, and download a free trial of Character Creator and iClone to create your own cinematic films. Reallusion has launched an animation challenge - 2021 iClone Lip Sync Animation Contest. Check out their webpage, and see how to win over $40,000+ in cash and prizes!

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

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