Setting up a new model in
TA Facial Animation


TA Facial Animation greatly speeds not only the process of facial animation itself, but also of modeling and set-up for facial animation as well!

TAFA will split Symmetrical Morph Targets for you into left and right components for you!




Play Video


  • NOTE: Most character modelers work with the Symmetry Tool active so that what they do to one side of the model is automatically applied to the other. However, most Slider-based Morph animation systems, (such as Morph Mixer,) apply Morphs as one, complete unit. This means that if an animator wants to have asymmetry in their facial animation when using Sliders, the modelers need to manually split their morph targets into separate left and right halves.

In order to take full advantage of TAFA's ability to split Symmetrical Morphs for you, we need to plan to use the platform-independent .MDD (Motion Designer) file format to apply our animation to our model.

So, for this Tutorial, we'll be loading into TAFA, Objects/MrCool_Body'sHead_MDD.lwo from your Facial Animation Content Directory, (created within the "Facial Animation" program directory when you install the full and/or demo versions of TA Facial Animation).

You control up to 8 lights within TAFA:

  • Turn lights on and off by clicking on their numbered buttons at the right of the Icon Bar at the top of TAFA's Main Window.
  • Change a light's color and intensity by <ctrl>-clicking on a light's numbered button to open the color-selector.
  • Position a light by holding down <shift> and that light's corresponding number on your keyboard while you right-drag your mouse around the Main Window.

You can Export and Import Lighting Settings, Model Settings, Facial Palette Settings, Audio Settings, or all your Scene Settings to quickly carry-over work from your other scenes!

  • Choose File | Import | Lighting Settings and browse to FA_Scenes/Light_Settings.fa_lighting (within your TAFA Content Directory) to quickly apply a good 2-point lighting setting.


Getting Around TAFA's Main Window:

Left-to-right, the Icons at the top of TAFA's Main Window:

  • Show/Hide TAFA's Facial Palette, Surfaces, Morph File, X-Sheet, Curve Editor and Audio Control Panel windows.
  • Switch among your three, stored Window Layouts.
  • Set the Subdivision Level of your model, (Cage, Low, Medium and High).
  • Set the Background Color within TAFA's 3D windows.
  • Show/Hide the Guides that represent both the Capture Area and Blending Mode.
  • Turn on/off the eight lights available within TAFA.

You can rotate any representations of your model in TAFA, (big or small,) by right-dragging on that representation!

The Surfaces window lets you show any surface in your model (by clicking under the respective Icons, left to right,) as Textured, Surface Color, Gray Shaded or Wireframe. The far right Icon hides the surface and TAFA will zoom in or out to closely fit the new extents of your model's visible surfaces.

TAFA automatically creates an initial set of Facial Palettes by reading and interpreting your Morph Names. (In this way, you can already have most of your Facial Animation set-up already done for you, simply by naming your Morphs!)

Thanks to this intelligent, automatic Facial Palette creation, most of our work for setting-up Mr. Cool is already done for us! All we need to do is to Lock a preferred Blending Mode to each Facial Palette!


  • NOTE: We've found that there is no, one, perfect combination of mathematics to allow for the smooth blending among all kinds of facial Morph Targets. So, we've created eleven unique Blending Modes from which to choose which suits your needs best!

Choose a Blending Mode from under the Options | Facial Blend Modes menu, and activate Testing Mode by holding the <T> key while moving your mouse around the Main Window to see the results of that Blending Mode applied to your currently selected Facial Palette.

Clicking on the Lock button in the lower-right corner of the Facial Palette window locks your currently selected Blending Mode to that particular Facial Palette. With a Blending Mode Locked to a Facial Palette, whenever you select that particular Facial Palette, the Locked Blending Mode overrides your current Blending Mode selection. (Click again on the Lock button to unlock a Blending Mode from a Facial Palette.)


  • NOTE: The Curves/Radial Blending Modes offer the absolute smoothest blending between all four Morphs, however they still have a slight influence on the model even when the mouse is centered within the Capture Area. Diagonals/Linear Blending Modes do not influence the model when the mouse is centered within the Capture Area.

You can orient the Iconic versions of your character in both the Facial Palette and the Morph File by right-dragging on the character's Icons. (Changes to the orientation to the Icons in the Facial Palette window will be reflected in the orientation of the Icons that appear in the Main Window when you are Testing or working with a Facial Palette (Puppeteer) Track.


Getting Around TAFA's Morph File Window:

You can change the way your model is displayed in the Morph File (and Facial Palette) window. Left-to-right, the buttons show your model as: Textured, Surface Color, Gray Shaded, Wireframe, MIX (whatever settings you have applied to your Main Window via the Surfaces Window,) and Text Only.

On the right, is the New Track button, (currently inactive because we have not loaded audio for our scene). This button adds a new Track to your X-Sheet that can hold Morph File Keyframes.

You can change the size of the Icons within the Morph File by dragging on the separator-bar between the Icons!

Select from your Morph Groups, (created based on your Morph Name Prefix,) with the Drop-Down-List-Box at the bottom of the window, or from the arrows that flank it.

Once you have your Lighting, Facial Palettes, Morph File and Surface Visibility settings the way you want them, File | Save Scene As the base from which you'll start future scenes when working with this model!


  • NOTE: The Demo version of TAFA does not allow saving. You can still follow along by loading the pre-made scenes and files included in the TAFA Content Directory.