2018 in REVIEW : Forget the overjoyed World Cup winners, scowling Winston Churchill, Martha Stewart's sugary smile and the angry Trump balloon. It was my commentary on the digital characters animated by media studios across the globe that captivated Faigin FACE BLOG readers, mostly professional animators, riggers and modelers. Here's the 2018 line-up of winners, in descending order:
The BEST of 2018
That Mysterious UNCANNY Valley
Figure 1. The charming and beautiful young Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia, alive and in the flesh.
"Avengers: Infinity War":
THANOS Artist Interview
Figure 1. Thanos, a CGI superhero character, stars in the "Avengers : Infinity War" film.
Robot FACES of the Future
Figure 1. Is it a plane? Is it a bird? Nope. It's the Trump Baby balloon, conceived by artist Matt Bonner and launched on July 13 in London.
This past July, a six-meter baby blimp, sporting President Trump's signature blond hair and holding a cellphone in its tiny hands, was launched into the skies of central London as part of a protest against the President's visit to the U.K.
Being HAPPY can be Complicated
Figures 1 & 2. Florian Thauvin, Player #20, inspired this blog. Take a careful look at Figure 2, the spectacular image of the emotion-drenched French Squad celebrating their victory in the 2018 World Cup. While nearly everyone laughs or shouts with joy, their happy faces displaying their upper teeth but not their lower (the textbook pattern with laughing), Thauvin stands out from the crowd. As you can see in Figure 1, his upper face is clenched in the pattern most associated with crying. For reasons that are not well understood, extreme joy can trigger reflexes associated with grief, as is obviously happening here. In such overwhelming moments, like winning a world championship, people experience a superabundance of emotional energy, and it finds outlets through a variety of channels – including physical action, like jumping for joy, and crying.
Defrosting Martha's SMILE
Figures 1 & 2. Domestic goddess and lifestyle maven Martha Stewart poses with painter Will Cotton for her portrait on the cover of her eponymous "Living" magazine's 25th Anniversary issue. Her smile in the photo is much better than the one in the painting. What went wrong?
The Imperial FROWN :
from 100 AD to the 21st C.
Figure 1: Churchill's bellicose scowl as captured by Yousuf Karsh during the dark days of WWII.
Emperors do it. CEOs do it. Politicians do it. Even, school mascots do it : they are all depicted knitting their brows in the Imperial Frown. Image makers for thousands of years have exploited the expressive power of scowling foreheads above an otherwise neutral face to create a sense of combativeness, authority, and stern self-possession, without escalating to out-and-out anger, which would require the addition of a frowning mouth. The Imperial Frown is an expression that never seems to go out of style, and it’s one that we associate with men rather than women, perhaps because, up until recently, the ranks of monarchs, prime ministers, and mercenaries were so overwhelmingly male.
A CRITICAL Look at Facial Expression
Figures 1, 2 & 3 from "The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression," by the author.
During an interview, written by Lisette Hilton for Aesthetic Channel, an on-line journal for cosmetic surgeons, I discuss various kinds of smiles, and the hazards of Botox for empathetic communication.
You can read my interview here.
"The Shape of Water" :
THE OPENING EMAIL : “Hey Gary! I absolutely love your book on facial expressions! Amazing work. It was incredibly helpful when I was working on FACS for the Shape of Water.” Nikita Lebedev
Figure 1: Meet the man/fish creature from "The Shape of Water."
I got a special kick out of the Academy Awards this year. I learned, through the above email, that my book, “The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expression,” was a key reference for the digital sculptor, Nikita Lebedev, who created the facial expressions for the fish/man creature at the heart of the movie “The Shape of Water." So, it was very fulfilling when this magical film won several Oscar awards, including Best Picture.
So many faces. So many ways to express emotions. Faigin examines facial expressions in movie stills, cartoons, fine art, illustrations and photographs and shares his insightful analyses in his monthly blog.