In this unit you are going to design a character focusing on its facial expressiveness.
The goal is to create a mask/avatar in which you can perform in real time.

This project relates to digital puppetry, motion capture, virtual influencers, and face filters.

Jim Henson Waldo C. Graphic 1989

The Waldo Moment Black mirror 2013

*Waldo comes from this short story 


Amy Yamato (2011)

Early virtual tuber, pre recorded, adopting the casual video diary style of the time

Pioneering the whole Virtual Influencer genre which is also related to vocaloids

…these computer-generated characters, on average, garner engagement rates up to three times higher than human influencers on Instagram. Virtual influencers have high “glance value” compared to humans, meaning they are easily distinguished from humans when scrolling in a standard social feed and, in turn, are more likely to draw you in.
Influencers already create versions of themselves on social media they hope fans will resonate with, leveraging luxuries such as fashion, makeup, possessions, and more. The opportunity of virtual influencers represents freedom for creators to craft an appearance and achieve connection without needing to alter their human selves or financial situations drastically. A virtual becomes a vessel for expression insulated from constraints typical of human social media.

-From this marketing site

Streaming avatars (real time)

Vtubers are typically manga styled but other styles are emerging.

Youna was a VR animator before she was laid off in the pandemic and created Code Miko.
Shows the mocap technology and presents her “real” self.
Stream clip


Transgender Vtubers (strong connection with identity experimentation in text based MUDs in the 90, and Second Life in the early 2000s)

“Before I started speaking, people thought of me as female, even though I never specified anything about myself,” says Artsy, who is 29 and based in the Netherlands. “It felt very, very nice to me, even though I didn’t identify that way at the time. I knew I needed to explore those feelings.” She continued creating content as a “femboy” until June of this year, when she began life as a trans woman. She credits her followers with giving her the confidence to come out.

-From inputmag

Furry at the cutting edge of full body VR animated avatars in VR chat, the only actual metaverse

I liked this furry content

AR filters

David OReilly It’s always you – Existentialist IG filter

Tears in the wind by nicoleruggiero (not real time but in dialogue with it)

The artist IG

IG filters here

Ruggiero’s instagram reminded me of this article Influencer Creep from Real Life Mag

“Artists […] are obliged to produce both art and a portrait of themselves as an artist.”


Assignment: Model an attention-grabbing virtual mask to be controlled with live capture. Record a short performance for it (eg: non verbal, skit, lip-sync). Post it on Tiktok.


Make a sketch of:

1- A face filter for a special occasion or a mask for a modern ritual




Brian Jungen’s fascination began in the ’90s on a trip to New York City, when he saw Air Jordans lined up at a Nike store in “museum-like display cases.
“I had actually that same day been at the Museum of Natural History and I saw … a lot of Indigenous artwork that’s kind of still in the realm of the science museum, and that was kind of upsetting to me… Seeing how … those objects became fetishized and held up as specimens of nature rather than being put in an art museum, that got me thinking about how other objects are treated in a very different way — like putting sneakers behind glass.”


2- A thing with a face that shouldn’t have it.
What would this character say/want/sing/complain about/advocate for? What’s their Myers-Briggs type (cw pseudoscience)?

3- A virtual influencer, starting from considerations like: what is your target? What kind of products do you want to promote?

Make sure that the design can express the basic emotions:

*Anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise are the basic emotions identified by Paul Ekman. You can read about this model’s issues and its problematic relationship with Silicon Valley in this review of Inside Out and in this article here.


If the character can speak make sure that the mouth can be lip synched
There is no universal standard for mouth charts but the visemes are generally overlapping


The viseme chart we are going to use – Oculus lipsync package