Tuesday, April 1, 2008

facial animation...eyes, brows (mouth)


My new favorite blog of movie screenshots is really handy. This week's theme is what the eyes and brows are doing during facial expressions. I pulled from a variety of sources. Note the smiles. They're all over the place - some, like the elizabeth shue shot, feel very natural and convincing. Others seem a bit more forced. But these aren't just happy and sad, or happy and really happy. Some are completely disconnected from the emotion and a bit surreal. Some seem a bit mad. Some barely react at all and are only partial smiles. I don't have a ton of these up, but my point is to note what the eyes and brows are doing to indicate a state of relaxation. When the eyes don't connect wit hthe expression, like in the second pic over, it feels a bit creepy.
Speeking of creepy, the two on the bottom right are fright or terror, or madness. Only here do you show tons of white space above the eye. Look at all the other shots to see the relationship of the upper and lwer eyelid to the iris/pupil. So avoid the classic norman bugged out eye thing.
Joe asked the question this week about 'micro expressions'. I still don't have a great answer for you on that, as it's a challenging question to answer. Really, microposing has a lot to do with extremely subtle moments, and adding the tics and details that come from really well observed moments and really understanding why the face does what it does in emotional moments. Read Desmond Morris' manwatching for some specifics on human behavior and some facial information. Really, this was popularized by Paul Eckman who came up with his Facial Action Coding System.
Emotions are what "make life livable," writes psychologist Ekman in this unique hands-on volume that flirts shrewdly with psychology and anthropology. His 40-odd years of research have led him to the conclusion (originally presented by Charles Darwin) that emotions, and their 10,000 facial expressions, are largely universal.
Really, though, I think this stuff is fantastic, but has to come after all your big moves are laid down.

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