25 Aug 2016


Blendshape 3D scans are a useful way to get accurate record of facial movements. With this information, you can rapidly produce a rig that has believable deformations, showcasing the specific subtleties of any given actor’s performance. This removes the need to rely on a potentially inaccurate manual interpretation.


Due to budget and timing constrains, getting scans like these for the specific actor is not always possible. In this case, it can be useful to have a generic blendshape library for anatomical reference. This allows the artists to study actual facial deformations in 3D.

Studios can also use these blendshapes to develop a robust generic rig, that can be used to speed up production of the hero character facial rig.

“3D scans contain an incredible amount of information. When properly managed it is possible to ‘rig by example’ achieving more accurate photorealistic deformations. The same information, sampled at different resolutions can also be transferred to different assets for easy reusability and retargeting.”

– Andrea Arghinenti (Senior Rigger)

The problem with standard generic blendshape sets is that they are designed more for anatomical reference rather than the the specific needs of the production team. For example, specific placement of tracking markers, and well as very specific expressions (FACs) for rigging poses.

We’ve been helping Vancouver VFX studios with this problem by offering a package deal on custom blendshape 3D scans. This allows them to pick their own model, place the markers where they like, and pick the exact expressions they want scanned.

The package we offer is scanned with our cross polarized photogrammetry rig, and includes:

  • High-resolution textures, showing differences in skin movement and blood flow between expression
  • The original raw photos, in organized folders
  • Macbeth charts, for grading the photos
  • Camera alignment reference scan
  • Stabilization (we use a head brace to reduce actor movement)

Studios can build the scans in-house, or we can build them for an additional fee.  For more information about costs, contact us at info@pixellighteffects.com.