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|What Is FaceRig?||FaceRig Features||Stretch Goals||The Team|
|FaceRig Technology||Why Indiegogo||Risks And Challenges||FAQ|
|FaceRig Vision||Ways You Can Help||Future Plans||In The Press|
FaceRig is a program enabling anyone with a webcam to instantly embody any character they want. The output can be streamed to Skype, Twitch or any service that uses a webcam. It can also be instantly recorded as a movie. For now we're focusing on the portrait and the audio, but we aim to do more in the future.
It is currently in development, but we're already having lots of fun with it. We, the developers, would love to have the chance to finalize it and keep it indie to make it available at a low price for everyone to enjoy; that's why we're on Indiegogo. We hope you'll join in and help us create something fresh and fun.
We won't bore you with "techno-babble" (we'll post it on our website soon enough) but we will share with you that FaceRig uses state of the art real time image based tracking technology provided by Visage Technologies from Sweden, and combines it with a cross-platform real-time animation and visualization framework developed by indie-powered Holotech Studios and its partners from the games industry. A lot of research has been put into FaceRig by top level academics and professionals to create the current results, and if the interest is high and we keep at it, it will get even more amazing.
FaceRig began as an evenings and weekends passion-fueled project for us, five veteran game developers; we were wishing that there was some way for us to keep using the game characters that we create, customize and grow attached to, even after we've moved on to playing new titles. From our discussion a lot of 'what if's were born, not necessarily related to games, that got us really excited.
- What if we could webchat on Skype , Google Hangouts, etc, or create video clips at the press of a button with us starring as fantastic characters, with their complete expression and emotion palettes? Something like instant digital cosplay?
- What if we could also have some real-time voice pre-processing, so that we can tune our voice to be more like that of the character? And also could mix-in music or trigger funny sound cues at the press of a button?
- What if we could have professional physics simulations, particle effects and complex lighting. What if the characters were rendered in real time as close as we possibly can to (ideally) Pixar movie quality?
- What if folks without any knowledge about 3d rendering and animation could record at the press of a button karaoke performances, funny (or emotional) clips as their chosen characters, to joke around with friends and post on Facebook or YouTube?
- What if this would be really affordable, so that anyone who has a PC could jump right in. Why should becoming a fantastic digital persona be available for only for mo-cap actors working in studios with their yearly multi-thousand dollars software license and expensive mo-cap gear?
- What if anyone could design and build their own crazy or cool characters, and share them with the world? How awesome would such a creative community be?
- ... and there are probably more ways to use this that we're not even thinking of, like unconventional game input, or maybe collaborating with other game devs to standardize real time user expressions and integrate it into popular multiplayer games?
And finally ...
- What if a few experienced game developers (who have built most of the above features for big publishers) could go indie, build this and make it available as an open creation platform, for indie prices, like 5 to 15 USD tops, for everyone at home to chat, stream, create and generally have fun as they see fit?
So here we are, about to put that last 'what if' to the test. If FaceRig is something you'd like then help us. We really need your help to make this happen.
FaceRig core features are:
- real time expression tracking in an input video stream, (also with audio analysis).
- combining tracked data with additional virtual puppeteer-ing input (if available).
- on-the-fly animation re-targeting for the tracked data and applying the animation on a user selected 3d model, with audio processing (voice alteration).
- rendering and lighting the animated model in real time, in a user selected background.
- encoding the output (video and audio) and streaming it as output from a virtual webcam device (it basically intercepts webcam input, and swaps the images captured by your real webcam with the fantastic content before sending it further)
- provide the interface for tuning the parameters of all operations above.
Of course, different people have different needs so right now we envision five versions ( read carefully so you know what perks to pick :D ):
FaceRig (or FaceRig Classic if you prefer), with web-cam based tracking and real time rendering, for home non-commercial use on PC. This will be our main development focus in the beginning and we want to make this available at crazy low prices. Non-profit use for any hobbyists, role-players, streamers, web casters or YouTubers : this is most likely enough for what you want.
FaceRig Pro, which is almost identical to Classic feature-wise, still for home use, or indie studios and it can be legally used by people who make revenue (direct or ad-based) off the place on the Internet where they showcase their video creations. This license will be more expensive than Classic. If you are a pro gamer streaming on Twitch and accepting donations, or you want to do some on-line promotion of your website, or if you are making 'Let's play' videos on YouTube and your channel is making ad-revenue then Pro is the way to go. The FaceRig content you create must not be gated behind a pay-wall (except in the case of indie game developers and their cut-scenes) , but you can still make money off it.
FaceRig Studio, targeted at established businesses, private practices and small game development studios. You will need this if you will use FaceRig at your job. Here we will provide numeric mo-cap tracking, destined to be used with professional software such as Maya or 3DSMax. Also destined to be used in more exotic ways (as in not just on the Internet, like entertainers for kids could use it at birthdays). This version will have to be expensive, like most professional software. We don't want big established companies to send their lawyers at us thinking that we want to wreck the professional market pricing scheme. It is not the case. Also FaceRig Studio is quite low on our priority list right now, but if you contributed and got a perk with a studio license, until it is ready you may use the provided lower-tier licenses for the exotic uses like the ones mentioned above.
- FaceRig AudioLite - a version with just the audio/voice mask/voice cues/audio mixer functionality. This will be cheaper than Classic, but it will have no expression tracking capabilities, and it will be for home, non-profit use only.
- FageRig Mobile for iOS and potentially Android - basically a mobile version of FaceRig Classic- though the avatars and background specs for the mobile version will be different than the ones for the desktop.
Later on (depending on what funding we secure past the initial goal) we plan to support more sensors (even combine them) in order to read torso/waist movement, arms hands and fingers, and even track brainwaves for excitement to drive detailed aspects such as pupil dilation, or blushing on the digital actors.
Limitations: You are not allowed to provide as a service direct use of your FaceRig license to others who are unaffiliated to you (no sub-leasing your license through services like fiverr.com or through a web server, by using coin operated fixed installations in public areas or other similar means - of course exceptions can be made for uses such as children entertainers during their entertaining acts). If you want to do that you'll have to get a FaceRig Service Reseller License or a custom FaceRig Enterprise license. These will not be available during crowd-funding. If in doubt, reach out to us to discuss your use-case before committing to a perk.
Of course you can do that for your friends and family and even acquaintances, we're not going to send ninjas after you if you let other folks you know use it for fun, just do not systematically sub-lease your license to people you don't know. It is illegal for apartments and it is illegal for software licenses.
Important limitation - for large businesses: The licenses present in the perk rewards are for personal/independent studio/freelancer use. If you want to use FaceRig the 'big company way', such as on national television, on public interactive displays, on stage during public real life performances, in physical kiosks, restaurants, bars, showrooms, airports, shops or shopping malls, for institution-wide academic use or for setting up any form of web server/service (that will resell/redistribute the FaceRig functionality), none of the licenses in the perks will be acceptable directly out of the box. If you want to do that you'll have to get a FaceRig Service Reseller License or a custom FaceRig Enterprise license. These will not be available during crowd-funding. Of course there may be exceptions for small fan conventions, or non-profit use, so please talk to us about your use case. We are not that uptight about it but as a general guideline if your business is for-profit and employs more than a handful of people (let's say 15 or more), and you typically can afford software like 3DSMax or Maya, odds are you will have to talk with us for an Enterprise FaceRig license at retail time.
If you are a large institution or business and have backed this campaign with specifically one the 'big company' uses in mind before 02 January 2014 (when the use limitations have been announced) but feel you are not prepared to deal with Enterprise licensing, please get in touch with us through our contact form on our website www.facerig.com , write 'exotic FaceRig use' in the subject and we will work with you to find a solution that you will be perfectly happy with (we won't rest until you are 100% content with the result).Without the above limitations we won't be able to use the Visage Technologies SDK at an approachable price point. We have to do this in order to keep the professional market untouched and to be able to keep the price low for individual users/small business. This concludes the limitations section :).
Digital Actors Availability. Initially the program will launch with at least ten digital actors and backgrounds, and with the infrastructure for anyone to be able to build new ones. If we get enough budget from the early access, we will also commission more actors from outsourcing studios. We will need outsourcing because we cannot ramp up production to make a hundred actors in a short time with just us five devs (two programmers, one technical artist, a 3d artist and a 2d artist).
Then we'll be releasing periodically new official digital actors and backgrounds (individual, and packs of probably 10). They will not typically be free, but we aim to price them in the same manner that we are doing with FaceRig: very low for home use, and more for businesses. There will also be community created content, so you won't have to rely only on the official packs, you will be able to commission custom content from freelance artists, or create it yourself.
Note: Avatars and backgrounds created for mobiles will stay on mobiles. Avatars and backgrounds created for desktops will stay on desktops. The spec sheets for creating custom content for mobiles and desktops will be different.
To let you in on a little secret: our long term goal as an indie company is to research and provide an affordable head to toe digital actor driving and visualization engine, with bidirectional feedback. We know it is a bold endeavor and pretty revolutionary, but that's a super long term goal; right now we're here just for FaceRig, a webcam-based product, because it is affordable for everyone.
One of the most important things right now for us is to find all the people out there who are as excited as we are about FaceRig, and to make sure we are building the right product for them. By holding an Indiegogo campaign we can find like-minded people and with the help and feedback of our early adopters we’ll be able to tailor the feature set to make FaceRig the best it can be (and hopefully revolutionize the way we interact online).
We brought FaceRig as far as we could on our own resources and effort. To make it as awesome as we want it to be, we now need to professionally focus on it full time. The funding target set in this campaign will allow us to begin doing that. It will also allow us to bring more people on board and create a stable, fully functional Beta with all core features in about 8 to 10 months.
To some of you the set target may seem too much, to others it may seem too little. We've done the estimates and that's what the numbers add up to for a proper PC Beta. That's why the campaign is "Fixed Funding": either the goal is met, and we know that we have enough to build and release the Beta, or the goal is not met and those of you who contributed get your money back. This way the risk is minimal for all participants, and none of us have to take part in a half-funded crippled endeavor.
The rest of the funding past Beta we'll secure from an early access program. Of course when the final version of the program is ready, all Beta licenses given to our backers will automatically upgrade to final product licenses without any additional cost (the Indiegogo backers, being the early birds, will thus get FaceRig at an incredible discount).
We are on Indiegogo because it gives us the chance to keep the project fully independent. We do not want corporate investors to take control and jack up prices for the home version because 'Marketing thinks people would pay more'. Right now we don't have any stakeholders pressuring us for large returns on investment, we don't have to maximize our profits. We just want to develop things that many will enjoy, in a sustainable manner (and to be able to pay all our contracts and bills).
Back our campaign!
By backing our campaign you’re telling us that
you’re as excited as we are about this project and you’ll help us get closer to our goal. Also we've made the home version available at an insanely low price so that you may get extra licenses for your friends and colleagues (who may not be as forward thinking as you, but we believe they will thank you later).
Share our campaign!
It may seem like a small thing, but sharing our campaign on Facebook, Twitter, etc, will allow us to see the response of our intended audience and hopefully get us closer to getting the project funded.
The more people know about it, the more feedback we get and the better FaceRig will be.
Get rewards for spreading the word.
Indiegogo has some awesome tools that let us (and also you we think) know how much your referrals have contributed to our campaign (Look in your Indiegogo account menu, under My Contribution -> My Impact)
These are registered every time you share our campaign using the share buttons on the campaign page underneath the video, while being logged in, and people use those links to come here and contribute. By sharing this way, everyone with an Indiegogo account gets perk credit for FaceRig worth 5% of your referrals' total contribution.
For instance: If your referrals have contributed 100 USD total you get 5 USD perk credit for FaceRig (that you can use for a Free Explorer Perk when the campaign ends).
If your referrals contribute to our campaign 1000 USD total, you get 50 USD perk credit for FaceRig, and so on.
Give us your input!
Help us develop FaceRig! The end goal of FaceRig is to be something you want to use so please comment, email us, join the forum on www.facerig.com and send us your ideas.
Note: Before we had our forums up, we had created a Steam Group and forum at http://steamcommunity.com/groups/FaceRig/discussions. We still visit there every now and then, but definitelly not as often as we visit the official FaceRig forums.
Here is the first part of our stretch goal list (yes we have more of them floating in our heads, but it would have been cheeky of us to post them all in one go).
A reminder: we may list them as stretch goals, in the same manner that all the others crowd-funding campaigns do, but remember, these where never optional for us, we were always planning to do them anyway with the money from the early access program.
Now we can try to secure the budget for them earlier. That does not necessarily mean we will build all of them faster, before Beta, because this money will not turn us into Uberdev able to code/build in a month what normal humans code/build in two (well, not unless we expand the team - but we can do that only if we find really outstanding people and that is not under our control), but it does mean that building them will be funded, no matter what happens at the Early Access. That being said, some of them (not all of them) are quite possible to do and will be done before Beta.
To get their individual estimated value, just make the difference from the Goal on the current line to the Goal on the previous line. Also we will not commit to this particular order before asking our backers' opinion by holding a few polls (as soon as our forums go live). We will still update the campaign text and write "funded" as the total rises, just keep in mind that the backer votes (not necessarily the Google Form open votes, even though those count too) will have a heavy say in the order we shall tackle them in.
Total: 120 000 USD. FaceRig Windows early access (that means the fully functional core features open Beta for Windows) - This is funded :D. It was the base campaign.
Total: 130 000 USD. Hybrid sensor setup for seated position: VisageSDK for head and face + Kinect for shoulders torso. Also funded :).
Total: 135 000 USD. Adding more hardware (camera models, video cards) to the basic set of hardware that we aim to use for compatibility testing. Funded as well :D.
Total: 140 000 USD. Dedicated fur comb/trim tool for Windows so that it can load a model, generate the proper fur direction and length data for our fur tech, and save the model - first iteration. Funded :D.
Total: 150 000 USD. Visual shader parameter tuner for Windows, with real time output. Will be able to detect and reload disk texture changes in real time. Can be used for characters and also as a background light environment tuner. Funded too :D.
Total: 200 000 USD. Infrastructure for mask-based custom color tweaking (ability to easily add various spots/patterns and colors for those patterns that combine with the base texture) for any materials, taking advantage of video cards with support for DirectX 10 and 11. Will probably not work on Windows XP. Funded! xD
Total: 250 000 USD. (Techno-babble warning!:) )Advanced texture compression and pre-processing tools with script driven batch processing (so that the source data is always uncompressed and the scripted adjusting iterations are non destructive, also with infrastructure in place for multi platform output so that the same source data can be compiled with different rule-sets and be output for more than just one FaceRig platform). Funded! :)
Total: 260 000 USD. A second iteration on the entire common format import process (for models, materials and animations), to be made more user friendly (the first iteration will probably have glitches/edge cases that need to be treated on a case by case basis once they are discovered). Funded too :D.
Total: 360 000 USD. Simple humanoid (male/female) character creator ( with sliders).
Total: 400 000 USD. Enhanced voice processing audio engine (at Beta we expect to have an OK audio engine, but a really good one will take more resources, proper voice processing is not trivial).
Total: 700 000 USD. Funds are also secured for the next roadmap platform iOS, and its starter pack of mobile avatars.
Total: 710 000 USD. Web infrastructure for community avatar library.
Total: 750 000 USD. 10 extra cinematic quality avatars we estimate a 4000 USD cost per avatar may vary depending on what outsourcing deals we may find).
We’re already at an Alpha stage so we have the basic functionality in
place (the campaign video is made with FaceRig Alpha). We know it works, it is not a resource hog, (runs fine on laptop integrated video cards, and we haven't even started with performance optimizations). Also, we're having a blast using it.
- finalize the software, and optimize for performance,
- make its interface user friendly, we want our grannies to be able to operate it.
- make it compatible with various hardware,
- get it though a proper QA process, with dedicated testers/test machines
- build up the avatar library
- create the basic infrastructure for adding your custom models
- add more functionality, improve on the current algorithms according to the feedback/funding we receive
...and then get it to you folks so you can have fun with it.
Forgive us for re-iterating, but we don't want anyone to feel tricked: We've set the goal of this campaign to just what we need to bring FaceRig to an open Beta, with webcam tracking, so you can start getting creative with it, while we launch an early access program to fund the rest of the development. If the funding goal on this campaign is not met then we don't see a cent (you all get your money back).
Ultimately we want to enable anyone to become any digital character they wish, head to toe, with Hollywood/Pixar quality, during any real-time online interactions, video and audio (and maybe some haptic feedback too). That's why we've named our start-up company Holotech Studios. But this is super-long term. Right now we're starting with emotions/expressions on FaceRig.
Another long term goal is to have FaceRig track more than the head and expressions. In the future we intend to support all popular sensors: Neurowear that monitors brain activity, L.E.A.P. motion that tracks your hands and fingers, Kinect 1 and 2, Asus Xtion, Carmine PrimeSense, in short any sensors that make sense; in the end however it will all come down to what development budget we can secure. We are starting with the webcam because that is the most prevalent and the most accessible.
Details about the Holotech Studios team:
- We are five developers, with help from friends whenever possible, and with some connections in the game development world.
- We have been working in the console and PC games industry, building games for almost any major platform out there, some of us since the start of PS2.
- We are not household names and we did not work on super high profile titles; we did however build world-class assets and technology.
- We have a lot of experience with software development and management; we know how to wisely spend a development budget so that we get the best mileage out of it.
- We've posted a video with three of us on our YouTube channel (called FaceRig), it includes using FaceRig alpha in real time. If you like it , we'll make more after the New Year :).
- You'll meet us on the forum if you decide to join up.
How much is FaceRig going to cost?
Surprisingly little. For non profit, home use it is going to start around 5 US dollars during crowd-funding. During early access it will probably be 10 USD, and when it launches it will be 15 USD.
Is FaceRig going to require a subscription?
No, it is a one time purchase. Major program updates (from version 1.0 to 2.0) will require an upgrade fee though. Minor upgrades will be frequent but they will be free to registered users.
Will there be an early access stage?
Yes. This campaign's funding goal is just enough to get us to a public, stable Beta version, with all the basic functionality in place so the backers can start having fun with it. To get a final product with all the bells and whistles we will need more than this; we plan to get there though our early access plan. From that point on, depending on the amount of orders we get, the product will either grow fast, and appear also on mobiles, or grow slowly.
Have you considered working with other companies to build interesting features together?
Yes, once we get the ball rolling we plan to approach many potential partners and ask them if they are interested in collaborations. We are super excited about FaceRig: both about what it currently does, and what it can lead to. Imagine for a second League Of Legends webcasts done by League heroes, or imagine a collaboration with the Occulus Rift people: the expression sensors mounted on the Rift would increase expression tracking quality even more without being an extra hindrance. The possibilities are many and they got us to jumping from our seats in excitement more than once.
What happens if you get more money than what you asked for ?
Depending on the over-fund margin, we may skip the early access stage, do the full polished feature set and launch directly the 1.0 version, or launch the Beta with more then just the core features, and with a larger avatar library.
We have an extensive feature road-map (and the community will of course be involved in this), and we also know how to wisely spend development budgets (even medium to large budgets, that are more than ten millions of dollars). We won't do something stupid like get over-excited and scale up the team too fast with inexperienced people, get an expensive office space or try to “dial in” features that make no sense. Slow and steady wins the race in this case. Measure three times, cut once.
Can I get multiple perks?
Yes! You can back our campaign as many times as you want, choosing as many perks as you want.
When will I get my perks?
We plan for the open Beta (and Early Access) to start in August 2014.
The release versions for FaceRig Classic and Pro will probably be ready around December 2014 or January 2015.
FaceRig Studio is estimated to be done in the Summer 2015.
Will you be on Steam?
The Steam Greenlight Project for FaceRig was extremely well received, so yes, we'd say that's a VERY safe bet (just look us up on Steam Projects).
Are you going to support Kinect as an input sensor?.
We are planning to support depth sensors, including Kinect, in the future. However at this time we feel that asking our audience to spend money on Kinect would have been unnecessary, because of the good quality of the tracking that is possible on regular webcams.
What if the crowd-funding campaign does not get you as much as you ask for?
In this case it depends on the public reaction. If there are enough people that are as excited about this as we are, we can still bring it in a functional state and launch it, but it will take a lot longer, and we may have to give up some of the rights to our investors. If however there's no successful crowd-funding campaign and also are no significant amount of fans, we'll just build it for ourselves in our spare time, and move on professionally to other projects.
What if the campaign gets successfully funded, and you build the Beta, but after the Beta you don't get any more customers and can't sustain FaceRig any further?
The possibility to have a successful crowd-funding campaign, and then absolutely zero customers is very very slim. Still assuming that does happen: You'll still have a functioning program developed using the money from the campaign. The perks are for the Beta keys that upgrade to full licenses at release date and they will all be honored. The release date itself can be pushed indefinitely back if we go out of business (in this case so the product remains a Beta forever), but it will be fully functional and as long as there is interest, we'll keep supporting it.
What happens after the finalized 1.0 version?
We keep supporting and improving it of course. The ultimate goal is head to toe virtual presence and performance capture with bidirectional feedback. Also community events, tools, tutorials, and so on.
What platforms will be supported?
We are starting on Windows PC, then iOS, Android, Mac and depending on our Technology partners also Linux.
We will not launch FaceRig for a new platform if we do not have enough funds and resources to finalize and properly support the previous one (out of respect for our user-base).
Of course we will hold community polls and if it turns out more people want Mac rather than Android for instance, we will switch the order.
Your website is incomplete. What's up with that ?
The web developers we've contracted are taking their time with it, because they want it to be secure and responsive and of course to have dedicated mobile layouts too - all with support for multiple languages. We are constantly bugging them to finish it as soon as they can, but seeing that they loved FaceRig and gave us a heavy discount on the web project cost, we can't really fault them for not getting it done faster. It is the quality vs time vs cost triangle, something had to suffer, and it was not cost and it was not quality, so it had to be time. We had hoped it would be done by the time the campaign started, but alas it was not.
I chose the wrong perk and I want to swap, or I want to upgrade my perk. How do I do that?
As far as we can tell Indiegogo does not have this feature explicitly, so we'll have to perform that change on our end once the campaign ends, by hand. We seen this performed by other Indiegogo campaigns and it seems to be common practice for correcting mistakes.
For swapping perks for another one of equal value simply mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and state the name and email under which the contribution was made, and what is the desired change.
For upgrading perks things are a bit more complicated. Let's say you got an Explorer for 5 USD and you want to upgrade to a Monarch that is 50 USD. In this case you need to make a contribution for the difference (45 USD), pick the Thumbs Up perk, then mail us using email@example.com stating the name and email under which both contributions were made and the desired upgrade. Put 'perk upgrade' in the subject of the message.
Please don’t treat perk changes like a normal Indiegogo feature and change your mind too often. It is meant to help people who have made mistakes. Indiegogo does not allow this (as far as we know), so we will be doing this ‘by hand’ on our end, and it is going to take time away from other development activities. Please be deliberate with your choices :).
I've changed my mind. Can I get a refund?
Sorry, Indiegogo's policy is No Refunds. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about this. Please see Indiegogo's rules.
Where does the money go?
It goes into development (salaries, software licenses, web presence- in short: operating costs). We are not a money-hungry corporation that has to generate revenue for shareholders, we just want to build awesome stuff that everyone can enjoy, and do so in a sustainable manner, in accordance to the law. Also we don't have large administrative overhead costs, as we are all developers (even those that have gained business administration knowledge, are still directly involved in development).
During our campaign, aside the support we got from you awesome people telling your friends and sharing our campaign, and also after the initial attention boost coming from Ray William Johnson liking our YouTube video (thank you Ray you absolutely rock!) we have also appeared in the press in a few places, and we have given quite a few interviews. We want to thank everyone who has taken the time to contact us and write about us, we love you all.
We won't fill this place with links, because they are many and a Google search on FaceRig will list all the results, up-to-date, in the order of their Internet significance, also with dates and everything and will do so way better than we ever could.
Because we do not want you to think we are lazy, we will list here the top 3 that have brought most backers to our campaign, (while at the same time deeply apologizing to all the others, but the full list would simply be too long). We love all journalists for writing about FaceRig, please do not take this short list as a sign of lower appreciation for the other articles, we appreciate each article equally, no matter the size, reach, or country of origin.
Traditional press top three:
Also the top six social sites who have brought contributors to our campaign are: YouTube, Imgur, Fur Affinity, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end :). Please let us know what you think about FaceRig.