Welcome to Digital Domain’s Masquerade3

Version 3.0 goes markerless.

Karen Moltenbrey

Facial motion capture has evolved significantly over the years, giving us amazing character performances in high-end films, next-gen games, episodics, and commercials. Among the few helping to move that dial has been Digital Domain with its Masquerade in-house facial capture system.

Digital Domain
(Source: Digital Domain)

The VFX studio’s Masquerade 2.0 was an offline capture system that had been  available to Digital Domain clients as part of a full asset creation process. The fully scalable system delivered a photorealistic 3D character and dozens of hours of performance in a few months’ time. Masquerade has been trained by machine learning to accurately capture expressive details down to the wrinkles on an actor’s face, without limiting their on-set movement, by targeting minute facial motions. The technology was used to bring such iconic characters to life as Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. It has also been used to bring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to digital life for TIME. Now, Digital Domain has updated that revolutionary 2020 technology by introducing Masquerade3.

Masquerade3 builds upon its earlier technology and eliminates the use of tracking markers on performers’ faces during the capture process. The updated tech uses integrated gaze estimation, reducing animation and processing costs. As a result, actors spend far less time in makeup, streamlining the production process and saving valuable (and expensive) time for the talent, director, and on-set crew. It also leads to a more precise performance directly out of the box, as previously it was impossible to avoid minute placement differentials when adding the tracking dots over the course of the multiple-day capture sessions, which led to additional cleanup of the data, studio said. With the new system, integration and rigging costs per shot are reduced.

Top shows results using Masquerade2 with tracking markers. Bottom shows the results using the markerless Masquerade3. (Source: Digital Domain)