Meet Emily. She's a spokesperson for California-based animation company Image Metrics. She's here to tell you about an animation technique that's not only faster than keyframe or motion-capture animation, but also a lot less expensive. So what's so special about this revolutionary system? Well, just watch the video:
Didn't expect that, did you? Yes, what you were seeing for most of that clip was CGI, at least in terms of the face. Emily herself is the tech demo for the Image Metrics system, which allows CGI animators to simulate human facial expressions in a way that pretenders like Actroid F can only dream of, if androids really did dream more than electric sheep.
Now the first thing you might ask after recovering your higher brain functions is, why in the world haven't I seen this before? Well in reality, you have. Image Metrics made this video over two years ago, and it's helped them bankroll a ton of clients, both in the movie industry and videogames. Remember that sci-fi horror Splice? Yep, that's Image Metrics. Better yet, try Halo Reach. All of the facial animations in that game are created with this system.
The proprietary technique may not be perfect; there are still some vestigial remnants of the Uncanny Valley about Emily. However, she's still the closest we've come to crawling out of that creepy place populated by Japanese gynoids and CGI Tom Hanks. And all she needs to do this is a regular camera and proprietary software. Not bad at all.