Fast and Deep Deformation Approximations
Character rigs are procedural systems that compute the shape of an animated character for a given pose. They can be highly complex and must account for bulges, wrinkles, and other aspects of a character's appearance. When comparing film-quality character rigs with those designed for real-time applications, there is typically a substantial and readily apparent difference in the quality of the mesh deformations. Real-time rigs are limited by a computational budget and often trade realism for performance. Rigs for film do not have this same limitation, and character riggers can make the rig as complicated as necessary to achieve realistic deformations. However, increasing the rig complexity slows rig evaluation, and the animators working with it can become less efficient and may experience frustration. In this paper, we present a method to reduce the time required to compute mesh deformations for film-quality rigs, allowing better interactivity during animation authoring and use in real-time games and applications. Our approach learns the deformations from an existing rig by splitting the mesh deformation into linear and nonlinear portions. The linear deformations are computed directly from the transformations of the rig's underlying skeleton. We use deep learning methods to approximate the remaining nonlinear portion. In the examples we show from production rigs used to animate lead characters, our approach reduces the computational time spent on evaluating deformations by a factor of 5x-10x. This significant savings allows us to run the complex, film-quality rigs in real-time even when using a CPU-only implementation on a mobile device.
Stephen W. Bailey, Dave Otte, Paul Dilorenzo, and James F. O'Brien. "Fast and Deep Deformation Approximations". ACM Transactions on Graphics, 37(4):119:1–12, August 2018. Presented at SIGGRAPH 2018, Los Angeles.