FaceFX Studio Setup

Dragon Age Toolset
Cutscene Editor Tutorial
FaceFX Studio Setup Quickstart

This is the fast track to setting up and using FaceFX Studio in the Cutscene editor of the Dragon Age Toolset. (Or, basically, just what the title says! :P )

Part 1: Transitioning from the Cutscene Editor

1: Create a New Track; name it FACE (so you know you can’t put anything else in this track).

2: Add Action: Animate Face.

3: Type in “humanmale” as the FXA Override. There’s no drop-down list to select from. You’re supposed to remember this.
Lord Metrhid says, “there are other FXA overides that you can use besides humanmale :) humanfemale, child, elfmale and elffemale are available depending on the character used.”

4: You must save before editing the FaceFX. If you don’t, it will pop up and tell you. This generates the FFX ID number.

5: Then right click the Animate Face block and Edit. This will launch the FaceFX Studio.

Part Two: Setting Up FaceFX Studio

1: Preview: Adjust view of face (if needed).

2: Create New View. Check Fixed Aspect Ratio and use the default name.

3: Scroll to the Face Graph on the left. Click Node Name to alphabetize.

4: Workspace Tab:
Select Animate in the drop-down list. If you forget this part, you will be doing a whole lot of nothing!
Turn on Slider Labels. That’s the X:Y: button. This leave the labels visible on the sliders at all times, instead of only when you have the slider selected. Much easier to see what you are doing with all labels on! (More cluttered, though.)
Edit. Click the pencil button to go into edit workspace mode.

5: Click the viewport icon and load the new camera view you just created in the Preview tab. It’s next to the load background icon, in the middle.

6: Click Node Name on Right to alphabetize list. Notice how it looks a whole lot like the Preview list on the left. Because it IS!

7: Fiddle with sliders on left to Preview face. Add sliders you want from Right. Just drag and throw. You can skip all that make X axis and make Y axis and click this part to drag a slider stuff. Just throw the mohonkers in there. They’ll pop to a default size.

8: Stop editing, save Workspace with default name.

Note: You can re-open the Workspace at any time to add more sliders if you find your animation needs them.

Part 3: Animating the Expression

1: Start at Zero. Hit Key All. This will start your animation from a neutral expression and go into the expression you want. This prevents abrupt transitions — remember, you can’t squiggle-edit or X-fade Face Animations.

Note: Remember to see how long you need your facial expression(s) to last. Count how many frames it should cover in the Cutscene editor, then pad it about 10 on each side.

2: Go to about halfway (more or less), and animate your expression. Adjust all the sliders to where you want them.
Hit the Key All, or use Auto-Key. If you turn on Auto-Key, it should create a keyframe every time and everywhere you jiggle any of the sliders. I’m not too keen on using this, as I don’t think it keys zero points. That, plus I tend to jiggle sliders when I’m not exactly on the keyframe, and it makes a mess.

3: Preview. Use the rewind and play buttons on the lower left.
Use the Animation tab to tweak the timing. You can see an example of this in the video, where I end up with overlapping keys that zero out the eyebrows.
If your expression is crossing the face too slowly, drag the first keyframes closer to zero. If it is leaping onto your character’s face too fast, drag them further along the timeline. If one part of the face jumps as if it has a muscle twitch (and you didn’t mean to do that :X ), adjust the keyframes and their handles to smooth out the line and values between them.

4: End at Zero: Go to end time minus 5 frames. Key All.
Go to end time. Right click each slider to zero it out. Key All.
This is to zero out the facial expression at the end of the animation. If you fail to do this (at least on conversation lines), your character’s face may get stuck in one expression. As fun as that sounds, it really isn’t.

5: Animation Tab: Flatten out expression hold time. If you keyed the (end – 5) frame first, then zeroed the last frame, the lines should be flat. If they’re not, adjust the last keyframe to be on level with the previous one. (The last non-zero one, of course!)

6: Post to Local. When you’re satisfied (or when you want to see it live on your actor), hit the Post to Local button up top.
Remember to also hit F5 back in the Toolset, to refresh the cutscene.

Note: You must keep the Studio open if you want to go back and edit the FaceFX again. Once you close it, your facial animation is locked in. I’m working on a tutorial that explains a workaround for this. In the meantime, get used to setting up and using the Studio as in this tutorial.