Faceshift Makes Your Mug Into a 3D Avatar

With Faceshift, facial motion capture technology is coming to the masses. This multi-national software maker recently launched markerless face animation software, which allows you to easily create a 3D model based on a human face. We went face-on with the latest version of the app at SXSW 2014, digitally immortalizing our mug in a number of humorous ways.

During the setup process, which takes about 15 minutes, Faceshift uses a consumer-grade depth camera (or RGB-D) to capture a handful of gestures, including a smile, a frown, a clenched jaw, and raised eyebrows. All you have to do is make each required expression and turn your head left and right for a few seconds, and the motion will be stored in the system.

MORE: Best 3D Printers 2014

Once your portrait is stored, the real fun begins. Your actual face will be joined on-screen by a digital avatar, which you can customize using Faceshift's built-in presets or any 3D model of your own.

During our time with the software, we turned our face into that of a lanky cartoon character, a "World of Warcraft"-esque ogre, and, our favorite, an adorable pug. Our facial motions were faithfully synced with our avatar, which replicated our blinking eyes, wide smiles and puffed cheeks.

Faceshift works with PC and Mac, with a Linux version on the way. You can export your digitized creations to any other 3D animation software. The Faceshift software works with RGB-D cameras like the PrimeSense Carmine 1.09, Asus Xtion Live Pro and Microsoft's Kinect.

Faceshift ships in two configurations, depending on how much you want to do with it. The Studio version ($1,500 per year) of Faceshift comes fully-featured, while the Freelance edition ($800 per year) sacrifices functions like real-time streaming, fast e-mail support and select plug-ins.

You can add a depth camera to the Studio package for an extra $300, and the individual cost of either version goes down if you're buying in bulk. A Faceshift rep noted that students and academies can receive a discount.

Follow Mike Andronico @MikeAndronico and on Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.