Realistic facial animation is one of the most fundamental problems in computer
graphics. The applications of facial animation are very diverse, and include fields that
range from purely recreational to life enhancing. Perhaps the best known application of
facial animation is in the film industry. Their systems are traditionally based on keyframe
animation, with many parameters that influence the appearance of the face.
Another application of facial animation is computer games, where titles such as Full
Throttle and The Curse of Monkey Island used facial animation for their 2D cartoon
characters. This trend continued into 3D titles, where games such as Tomb Raider and
Grim Fandango used facial animation as the key tool to communicate the story to the
player. Facial animation is also being applied in medical fields like facial surgery
planning and previewing the effects of dental surgery. However, these pre-operative
applications would require a very accurate anatomical model of the patient's face. This is
not very practical, because each face varies enormously from the next, and acquiring face
data can be tedious Facial Animation can also be used as a teaching aid. Talking Tiles is
an application of Hyper Animation that aids with the teaching of language skills. Facial
animation could also be used to teach the hearing impaired. A face model could
demonstrate how certain words are pronounced, while cut-away views show where the
tongue needs to be positioned to create the desired sounds.
The important issue to
remember is that all these varied applications, film, computer games, medicine and
teaching, use facial animation as a communications medium. That is, they utilise a
computer simulation of a human face in order to reach the audience more convincingly.
The MPEG-4 standard provides a set of technologies to satisfy the needs of authors,
service providers and end users alike.· For authors, MPEG-4 enables the production of content that has far greater
reusability, has greater flexibility than is possible today with individual
technologies such as digital television, animated graphics, World Wide Web
(WWW) pages and their extensions. Also, it is now possible to better manage and
protect content owner rights.