Face Animations?

cluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

One of my interests is animating photographs of faces.  I've been using CrazyTalk and Morphage (mac only) so far, and love them both.

I see that Unity is now offering a face animation feature they call Natural Front.  The main pitch seems to be ease of use. Here are a few links if you're interested in such things.


The Unity website seems to be loaded with broken stuff, which is making it challenging joining their forum etc, so I thought I'd run this by you guys.

- I don't want to do 3D. 

- I'm only interested in tools that are relatively easy to use.

- I am interested in animating face photos.

Anybody here have experience with Unity?  How about the NaturalFront plugin? 

Any discussion of face animation in any software is welcome.  Thanks!


  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    I now have Unity and the Natural Front plugin installed.  So far the thing crashes each time I try to create an animated head.  My machine may be too old, the software may be junk, don't know, researching further.

  • CleverTagline
    CleverTagline Moderator Las Vegas, NVModerator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,241 Ambassador

    I haven't used Unity before, but have seen lots of really impressive things that it can do in the right hands.

    IMO, this isn't one of those.

    That auto-generated head is flat-out ugly, as are the expressions. I found another video on their YouTube channel that shows the final auto-animated product, and it's just abysmal. And yet the voiceover spins this product to be something awesome: "All animation will be successful the first time and every time, without any need for manual intervention from you." Nope. Not in this version, anyway. I've been a stickler for facial animation ever since I started animating myself many years ago, and I haven't yet seen an auto-animation system that looks the slightest bit appealing.

    My advice re: Natural Front: run fast, run far.

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    @jsbarrett - I'd try to be open minded, if I could get it to work at all.  I've contacted the developer of Natural Front to see if they have a solution.  I'm guessing they won't, so this thread will likely soon be over.  I still have an old version of CrazyTalk which I find more than useful, so no big loss. 

    Perhaps this thread can be a place for us to keep up to date on other face animation solutions. 

  • CleverTagline
    CleverTagline Moderator Las Vegas, NVModerator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,241 Ambassador

    @PhilTanny I do try to be open minded, and perhaps I was a bit harsh in my comments. Still, my assessment stands. I would not recommend using Natural Front if you want to create a quality end product. It needs a LOT more work to get to the point where I'd even recommend it to a hobbyist.

    I have no interest in this kind of tool for my own use, but I took a quick look at some demo videos of the other two applications you mentioned. Compared to Natural Front, CrazyTalk looks like a much better tool for this kind of thing. I've still got issues with it, but don't have issues recommending it.  For straight morphing, Morph Age looks like it does the job well.

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    @jsbarrett - I hear ya, I don't have any argument with what you said.  I'm just trying to learn what I can about face animation. 

    CrazyTalk is surely worth a look for anyone who is interested in face animation.  This is particularly true given how cheap the base version is, $30 if I remember, and the features delivered.  It's worth what they're charging.  They even gave me an old version for free, which was generous of them. 

    However CrazyTalk does have some significant limitations.  For instance, in the 2D version you can't use any photo where the subject is smiling, teeth are a deal killer.  That rules out about 90%+ of all photos, kind of a big deal.  The 3D version can't deal with hair, you have to add that later from one of their few and not so great hair options.

    Point being, although I love CrazyTalk, I'm still on the lookout for anybody who can raise the bar, and/or offer features I don't currently have access to.  I thought Natural Front would merit a look, but unless I can get it to do anything at all, obviously I was wrong about that.

    On another pet rant subject...

    Although Natural Front may fail to live up to it's sales pitch, the pitch is worth observing for itself.  Whoever created Natural Front seems to get that there are FAR MORE people who want easy access than who want a complex feature rich environment requiring advanced skills etc.  I think they have the right idea, even if they can't yet implement it in a convincing manner.

    We shall see.  When I learn whether I can get Natural Front to work at all, I'll file a report here.   It's entirely possible the problem is not with Natural Front so much as it is my 7 year old Mac.  Trying to ride the cutting edge with old tools, not always such a great plan.

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    Ok, the conclusion.  The developer feels the issue is that my Mac is just too slow.  I see now he's offered this same advice to a number of other users.  Some users report that if you let the process run for an hour or two (on old Macs) it does eventually create the requested head.

    Well, all I can say is that CrazyTalk works fine on Macs and OSX versions considerably older than what I'm using.  I used to use it on a ten year old laptop with only 2GB of RAM, no problem.  So I'm guessing the author of this software is a Windows developer who doesn't quite get the Mac yet.  

    Perhaps I will let the Natural Front process run while I'm taking a nap just to see what I wind up with.  If yes, I'll file a report.  For now my conclusion is, this might be worth taking a look at if you're on Windows, otherwise probably not.

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Website User Posts: 476 Just Starting Out

    Ok, this pointless thread is now officially over.  I did finally get a 3D head to load in Natural Front.  It took a half hour, but it did work.  Sadly, Natural Front doesn't appear to offer a fraction of the functionality I already have with an old version of CrazyTalk, which is up and ready to work in a few seconds.  Someone will probably find this software useful, but it's proven to be a waste of time for me.  Sorry to clog this thread with a big bunch of nothing.  I'm off to uninstall Unity and get back to useful work.

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