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Success for spin-out

Top game maker signs up animation software

game-4

More deals in pipeline

Speech Graphics, an Edinburgh university informatics spin-out, has licensed its ground-breaking animation software which generates facial animation from audio.

The Coalition, a Microsoft Studio, is the first company to sign up the SGX software, animating more than 35,000 lines of dialogue in the critically acclaimed game Gears of War 4 (featured above). 

A further three global studios are expected to license SGX in the new year.

SGX marks a step change in the games sector by bringing the quality of in-game animation close to the quality of handcrafted cut-scene animation.  

The result of five years of research and development by Speech Graphics, SGX makes it possible for video game studios to execute large batches of facial animation of thousands of lines of dialogue in-house, using only audio recordings, without needing to outsource to specialists.

Based in Scotland, Speech Graphics has an international reputation for extraordinary advances in audio-driven animation and motion technology, providing facial animation for the video games industry and working with multinational companies like Warner Brothers and global artists like Kanye West.

SGX delivers an immersive experience for the gamer.  SGX processes audio files and transcripts into facial animation, creating audio-generated facial animation that is high-quality and scalable across large volumes of dialogue.

Michael Berger, CTO and co-founder of Speech Graphics, said: “Automatic, accurate lip sync is one of the holy grails of computer facial animation.  Our task is to create the impression that the animated face you see is the source of the sound you hear.  

Speech Graphics founders

Speech Graphics founders Michael Berger (left) and Gregor Hofer

“This illusion is notoriously difficult to achieve: the movements of speech are fast, complex and subtle and the viewer is highly sensitive to any mismatch between face and the voice.”

David Coleman, animation director of Gears of War 4, said: “Speech Graphics provided us with a robust system for automatically creating quality facial animation for the many thousands of lines of gameplay dialogue in Gears of War 4. We found the people at Speech Graphics to be very responsive and helpful in us achieving our goals.”

“SGX goes beyond good lip sync. Speech contains energy and emotion, and that too can be decoded from the voice and synchronized in the face. Using all available acoustic information, our algorithms drive not just the mouth but the entire face from audio input, from syllables to scowls.”

Speech Graphics delivers accurate and expressive facial animation. Emotional impact comes through very strongly in both the upper and lower face. Speech Graphics technology captures the intensity of every syllable and animates eyebrows, eyes, lips, jaw, cheeks and even tongue. 

Speech Graphics has a unique fusion of expertise in speech technology and computer animation found nowhere else in the world.

The team brings together decades of research into machine learning, speech recognition, phonetics and computer graphics to solve what is an interdisciplinary problem.

Speech Graphics is on track to become the main provider of lip-sync and facial animation – a sector forecast to reach over $500 million (£375m) – to the global video game market. Speech Graphics currently employs eight staff and has plans to recruit three more in the year ahead. 

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