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Chapter 12. Character Animation > Blend Shape Animation

Blend Shape Animation

Sometimes, using skeletons to animate can cause problems, particularly in facial animation. Hundreds of different muscles are required to arrange the human face into the positions that people use to communicate nonverbally. Trying to emulate this arrangement with dozens of bones strewn throughout a character's face doesn't make for easy animation. A better solution is the Blend Shape deformer, sometimes known as a “morph.”

Blend Shapes can work on any NURBS or polygonal geometry, warping the source object to the shape of the target. In general, you copy the base object and modify the copy into a new shape. For example, you could copy a character's head and arrange its facial features for one of the phonemes used for human speech—the “ooo” sound. You could then use this copy as a Blend Shape target for the original neutral face. Animating the percentage of blend makes the face gradually change from the neutral pose to the “ooo” pose. You can apply any number of targets to the base object, allowing you to mix percentages of all the targets into the base object. With enough phoneme poses, you can simulate speech.


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