Disney Research Takes a Crack at Better Character Skinning

I’m sure every time someone proposes a new character skinning method, people’s ears perk up in piqued interest. Even though there are plenty of methods out there already, the holy grail of character skinning has yet to be seen. From linear, heat mapped, and all the way dual quaternion, each has benefits, but each leaves a lot to be desired. The “candy wrapper” effect, volume loss when bending joints, and bulges are still common issues.

Skinning algorithms that work across a broad range of character designs and poses are crucial to creating compelling animations.

Adding to the list of algorithms, Disney Research proposes their new method for direct character skinning that pre-computes the optimized center of rotation for each vertex from the character’s rest pose and skinning weights. Those centers of rotation are then used to define the transformation of each vertex.

Compared to linear and dual quaternion skinning, the Disney method greatly reduces the common artifacts, while keeping performance high. The method also allows for backyard compatibility with existing animations pipelines.