Stumbling Toward 'Awesomeness'

A Technical Art Blog

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Crysis Technologies

In 2006, the team at Crytek was hard at work trying to come up with ways to ship Crysis –we had definitely bitten off more than we could chew. I found some videos that are now a decade old when cleaning out my HD, but it’s interesting to see –that’s for sure!

Facial Editor

We didn’t have a clue how we would animate all the lines of dialog that were required for the game.  3D Studio Max, which we used to animate at the time had nothing as a means of animating faces, now a decade later, Max and Maya still have zero offering to help with facial rigging or animation.  So.. we decided to write our own. Stephen Bender (Animation Lead) and I worked with Timur Davidenko and Michael Smith (Programmers) on this tool. Marco Corbetta wrote the 2.5D head/facial tracker. Here’s a video:


The user would feed into the system a text file, an audio file, and a webcam video of themselves. It would generate the mouth phonemes from the text/audio, and upper 2/3rds of the face from the video. The system would generate this animation on the same interface the animators used to animate so it was easily editable. It shipped with the MS speech DLL, but you could swap that for Annosoft if you licensed it. Crysis shipped with all characters having 98 blendshapes, driven by Facial Editor curves/animation using non-linear expressions. Imagine shipping a game today without having animators touch a face in a DCC app!


click to enlarge


Many people know that Crytek released the first commercially available normal map generator: PolyBump, but rarely has anyone heard of it’s companion: PhotoBump. This was Created by Marco Corbetta around the same time, but released only to CryEngine licensees in 2005. It was probably one of the first commercial photogrammetry apps, and definitely one of the first uses of photogrammetry in games. Much of the rocky terrain in Crysis was created with the help of  PhotoBump! Marco also stamped/derived high frequency details from the diffuse, which I hadn’t seen others do until sometime after.

SIGGRAPH Best Realtime Graphics 2007

Here’s the SIGGRAPH ET reel from the year we released Crysis. I still can’t believe some of this stuff, like the guy pathfinding across the bridge of constrained boards and pieces of rope! I actually cut and edited this video myself back then, rendering it all out from the engine as well!

posted by Chris at 10:25 PM  


  1. Dear god Bender looks young there Chris!

    Automated LipSync from Annosoft was the backbone to Homefront’s facial, batching something like 30,000 lines of dialog in 6 languages, all be it done in a standalone build of Maya, but the foundations of the Crysis stuff was crucial for the fsq pipeline. Not sure if they ever finally killed the FacialEditor, I know there was talk about it.

    Hope things are going well mate!

    Comment by Mark Jackson — 2017/06/07 @ 3:59 AM

  2. Things are going well! happy belated birthday (I think?) I miss working together. Tell Franco I said hi. Yeah it’s a shame the whole Crytek thing, even today, other engines are just catching up, we had a pretty great team.

    Comment by Chris — 2017/06/08 @ 8:02 AM

  3. Glad to hear it mate, yeah I miss working cross studio like we used to, pity how things turned out. Still, neither me or Franco would have made this jump had things carried on well at Crytek and it’s so much better not having to deal with big company politics! 😉

    Comment by Mark Jackson — 2017/06/15 @ 7:14 AM

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