In advance of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), Faceware Technologies announced new software updates and pricing — including a free Personal Learning Edition (PLE) of its software — and debuted new turnkey facial-capture hardware, its first designed for use without the company's usual Headcam head-mounted camera systems.

Faceware's new Pro HD Tripod Camera System includes a Sony XDCAM, tripod, two LED lights with ballast, and a converter to get video out of the camera and into a PC running Faceware Live or Faceware Analyzer via USB. It's designed for customers that don't want to use a Faceware Headcam for whatever reason, such as when working in a voiceover booth. The less expensive GoPro Desktop System package (pictured, top of page) includes a GoPro camera, desktop lighting fixtures, and a video converter. 

Both hardware bundles will be available as standalone products or bundled with Faceware's software and an optional Headcam. Desktop Indie Systems will start at $2,475 and Pro Tripod Systems will start at $11,975. Prices top out around $35,000, depending on configuration options such as camera choice of wireless capture capabilities.

The difference between the two systems isn't so much in the quality of the result, but in the workflow aspects, Faceware VP of Business Development Peter Busch told StudioDaily. For example, he said, the GoPro camera names files purely procedurally, which can cause difficulty in post if hundreds of video files are being generated. Moreover, the more versatile lens on the tripod-mounted camera opens up options during the shoot, and it's easier to sync XDCAM footage to timecode.

Faceware Retargeter Studio Plus

Faceware Retargeter 5 Studio Plus

Also new at GDC are the latest versions of its Analyzer and Retargeter software programs. Analyzer 3.0 has been updated to support timecode, video in/out editing, direct capture, and localization. Retargeter 5.0 gets timecode support, a shared-pose retargeting feature allowing users to bring in data from a library of poses, various workflow improvements and localization. .

Faceware is changing the terminology used to refer to different software versions. The former Lite versions of its software are now known as Studio, and the free Personal Learning Editions will maintain feature parity with the Studio versions, the company said. What were previously known as Analyzer Pro and Retargeter Pro will become Analyzer Studio Plus and Retargeter Studio Plus. The changes are meant to reflect a significantly improved experience for users of the Studio software compared to previous Lite versions.

Additionally, a new rental option will allow users to license the software for a 30-day period, starting at $340/month.

Faceware Analyzer Studio Plus

Faceware Analyzer 3 Studio Plus

Faceware's stated goal with these new releases is to grow the presence of its markerless facial performance capture systems beyond the videogame market, which currently amounts to about 60 percent of the company's business volume, according to Busch. "It's a huge area of the animation market — freelancers, independents, and the research side — and we wanted to embrace that community by offering a free version of our latest releases of Analyzer and Retargeter," Busch said. "We think it is going to be a massive hit. There has never been a tool like this that is free for personal use, and we think it is going to make some waves."

It may also give Faceware leverage in emerging markets for facial capture. "We're seeing an uptick in the training space, both government and commercial," Busch said. "Any avatar-based training with a CG host. The theme park space is another one. A lot of people are doing interactive VR and AR with animated content. We are seeing a huge increase in VR and theme park customers as they build these pipelines."