An Easy Way To Create 2d Facial Expressions In Maya

Nick Romick Turns UV Space Into a Sprite Sheet to Create 2D Facial Expressions for a Minifig Character in Maya.

Lego movies sport a mix of 3D and 2D elements together in one shot. Especially the lipsync and facial features of minifig characters have been improved with this technique, which was first used by Nick Romick as an After Effects plugin to create simple rigs for swapping out animation packages quickly on set or during post production time without re-rendering anything at high resolution formats like MP4s
One way that Lego has utilized good old fashioned creativity is how they created their own custom tool called “Spriter” so movie makers can more easily incorporate speech synthesisers into animated shorts instead relying solely upon computer generated sounds.

Romick says that keyed expressions can be used to drive UV coordinates and change both eyes, mouth movements all in one material. When moving the UV shells around different parts of space selects new 2D facial expression managed with driven keys that uses Maya’s polyMoveUV node for facilitating movement into UDIM (Units Per Intensity Map) volumes. -Alisha.

https://youtu.be/mamEj9TdkYU