Facerig: Avatar for $15
Real-time face animation for your mobile or PC, for gaming, chats, and film recording…
Facerig by HoloTech Studios
Yes, yes it is.
FaceRig, now on Indiegogo, is a real-time animation software application for your webcam or mobile device, which transforms the user’s facial into the actions of an on-screen character. We deeply respect the FaceRig’s team’s decision to go with a fuzzy red panda as their main example character, and will honor their wishes here. They use the term “Digital Alter-Ego Framework” to describe their project, which is a bit wordy but, useful.
Still shots don’t do FaceRig justice, because the product’s really about motion and voice, so…watch the video. Experience the panda. Because when the actress’s “digital alter-ego” wiggles its little nose, you’ll melt.
What else, what else…FaceRig’s main focus is on chatstuff, Skype and GoogleHangouts, the livestreaming channel TwitchTV, and such. FaceRig’s a general interaction tool, and that covers a lot of ground. It also records to video, and with the ability to add props, voice alteration, music and sound effects, and custom backgrounds (which, happily, affect the ambient and direct lighting on the digital avatar), provides a fair amount of utility for making films. Initially the program plans to launch with 10 characters–we’ve seen the red panda, Anime girl, some sort of devil, and a scary military fellow for narrating real-time shooters. Their ongoing business model assumes occasional new characters as purchasable add-ons at a reasonable price. Users can presumably develop their own, but your mileage may vary.
The big open question for this project is, “What’s next?” Unfortunately, as some of my friends pointed out, the dev team isn’t really working the stretch goals angle–and stretch goals aren’t just a cheesy way to get more money, they build energy and help your fans evangelize….”well, with just $4,000 more we could get PAWS!” sort of thing. The team talks a lot about where they’re heading, but with few seriously concrete details–expand to include input from LEAP Motion, Kinect, Neuroband, and other commercially available sensors, expand the what-all Facerig tracks. Neat stuff, and there’s talk of mapping out proper stretch goals, but at launch, no, not yet.
On the subject of the crowdfunding elements of the project–damn, this should have been launched on Kickstarter, it’s a solid product. It’s been pointed out to me that it’s an international campaign and seems to be launching a beta version instead of a final product, and Kickstarter doesn’t like to pay for salaries/overhead and test batches. And a minor note from a crowdfunding aficionado, nice navigation! I haven’t seen anyone use anchors to guide the reader like this, it’s a good touch.
Holotech Studios, the project’s developers, have some useful partners. They’re working with Visage Technologies, a team that helped create some of the current face and body digitizing standards. Check out their page for interesting wire-frame models and a fun aside about virtual eyewear modeling. They’re halfway to goal as of day 3, and currently the #1 “new project” on IndieGogo, so glad to see IGG’s mythical “GoGo Factor” is working for someone. Good luck!
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