We’ve heard about the power of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in creating large, open worlds and modelling realistic effects. Though the PS4 has had a leg-up over the Xbox One in terms of games that can run at 1080p/60 FPS, the power of both next gen consoles dwarfs that of current gen easily.
However, how do both consoles fare when it comes to realistically modelling facial animations and expressions, especially compared to PCs? Considering that increased realism is a hallmark of the next-generation, GamingBolt got in touch with OC3 Entertainment’s Doug Perkowski, whose team is behind FaceFX. The company’s middleware solution has been used in a number of blockbuster titles including Thief, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Battlefield 4, Grand Theft Auto V and many more.
When compared the power of next gen consoles to a high end PC, who’s hardware is constantly evolving, what kind of challenges does the team face in developing the right tools for the PS4 and Xbox One? Perkowski stated that, “A high-end PC with the latest GPU/CPU gives you the most graphics horsepower, but ultimately I think iPads and tablets are a greater competitive threat/opportunity for consoles. High end PC games will always be a niche market that appeals to the graphics enthusiast, but the average consumer will choosing between a console game and new gaming app on their tablet, or perhaps some hybrid.
But what about the overall clock speed? With CPUs logging higher clock speeds over next gen consoles, does that hold the latter back in any way with regards to FaceFX? After all, there’s no denying that so much more could have been accomplished with higher clock speeds on consoles.
Perkowski responded, “Are you talking about the speed of the CPU or the GPU? It doesn’t matter because facial animation technology is not constrained by either really. But with a faster graphics card, you could potentially have higher polygon characters, but even in that case, you would probably use the same skeleton rig. And FaceFX calculates transforms for the skeleton rig, and the engine will then use the graphics card to drive the polygons with the bones, so FaceFX’s calculations would be the same.
“At the end of the day, you just don’t get better facial animation with faster CPUs. You can get better physics, particles, explosions, and simulations, but facial animation can only get better with more animator hours or better technology. That’s what makes it such a hard problem.
“And just an additional clarification, there are many facial animation methods that are definitely limited by the CPU and GPU like skin solvers and light simulations for the skin. FaceFX could even drive those systems, but most games (regardless if they are targeting high-end PC’s or consoles) will use more traditional animation techniques that are not bound by the CPU or GPU.”
So regardless of their differences with a high-end PC, much less their differences with each other, the PS4 and Xbox One are both fairly well off in terms of facial animation. It will be interesting to see what happens when games start relying on the above mentioned skin solvers and light simulations in the distant future, which will require more CPU/GPU power but for now, all is hunky dory.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.