In the animator Utopia there would be a tool that makes a custom 3D model from 2D images of someones face. That will cut down hours if not days in 3D modeling getting the digital model to look a like his real world counterpart.
Let me start with explaining the task in hand i.e. work chores of a 3D face animator. The facial animation process is separated in 2 areas: the first one are techniques to generate animation data, and the second one are methods to apply such data to a the targeted character.
To generate the animation data we need a way to capture it or to mimic the real world movements of the face and put them in the digital format. This can be achieved with things like motion capturing i.e. getting the real world movements and put them in the digital world or with key-framing i.e mimic the needed facial expressions on a digital model as a starting point.
When we have this as input we can move on the next task which connects the data we have from the first process and blends it in one coherent and real world looking sublimate. Creating and adjusting the face skeletal animations along side morphing the targets aka blend-shape animation are the things which takes most of the time on the people behind the screen doing this.
Depending on the project that can be anything from games to short films or educational videos, commercials, scientific simulations or 3D custom customer support avatars (think chat-bots with faces). The team size can be from one man show to full blown AAA studios with 400+ riggers on site. If you think about it in numbers with average annual salary of the 3D face animator position around $75k then we can come to a conclusion that the industry that started in early 1970’s is mature for disruption with new technologies and breakouts that cuts both time and cost.