Digital photography has given us unlimited resources by which to try and capture that elusive perfect portrait. But try as we might, most portraits are never perfect. There are usually slight imperfections that we wish could be easily changed. Luckily, along with digital photography has come digital photo enhancement software. Most software of this kind can change color tones, remove red eye, etc, but now there is a product that can actually change facial expressions and much more. Itís FaceFilter Studio from Reallusion.
In their own words, Reallusion describes FaceFilter Studio: Ē With FaceFilter Studio's unique facial improvement technology, anyone can enhance expressions, reduce oily gloss, neutralize heavy shadow, remove facial blemishes, wrinkles and red-eye, enhance skin tone and automatically correct color in digital photos. The image editing tools of FaceFilter Studio are so complete, you can even use a "digital brush" to remove unwanted pounds from those you photograph. FaceFilter Studio also provides a greater degree of improvements to today's higher resolution digital cameras, supporting images up to 12 mega pixels in resolution. FaceFilter Studio also offers automatic sensing of a subject's facial features, removing the need of "fitting" the facial feature. FaceFilter Studio is perfect for individual images as well as group photos, allowing similar enhancements or corrections to be applied to multiple subjects from a clipboard. Improvements to your digital images now take only minutes and give you professional results every time.Ē Are these claims true? Iím happy to report that yes they are true! Although, as with all image modification software, subtlety is the key to success.
The enhancement process begins by loading in an image and selecting the facial area you would like to modify. You simply drag your mouse around the facial area to create a box surrounding the face. This feature allows you to work on pictures that have multiple subjects. The one caveat here is that the subject should be looking directly forward. Otherwise, results are not nearly as good. The next step is to fit the facial mask. FaceFilter Studio does a pretty good job of fitting the mask automatically, but Iíve found you still need subtle adjustments to get the best results. Fitting the mask is extremely easy, with a side-by-side comparison of your subject and a facial guide. You also see expression previews of how the current mask fitting will affect your subjectís facial expression. Very nice!
The next part of the process is skin enhancement and other color corrections (such as red eye). This area of FaceFilter Studio provides many of the same tools you might find in other image correction applications, including Paintbrush, Restore, Smudge, and Smooth tools. These can be used for manual corrections. But the Studio also provides many automatic correction tools, which I must say work quite nicely. Open the Filter Skin dialog box and you can apply smooth, shadow, gloss, and skin tone effects quickly and easily. There are also a number of skin templates to choose from so these changes can be as quick as a single click. One thing sorely lacking here, however, is the ability to save your own templates. There are also Red-eye Reduction and Facial Mask editing features. One very cool aspect of being able to edit the facial mask (which is simply painting onto the areas of the photo that you want masked) is that you can apply effects to other parts of the subject, not just the face. For example, one advanced application would be to change the tint of the subjectís hair. Want to see yourself with a pink hair tint? Now you can!
The most powerful aspect of FaceFilter Studio (and something that I have yet to find anywhere else) is the ability to change facial expressions. Again, itís important that the subject is looking directly forward, and subtle changes give the best results, but I tell you that it is simply amazing to see the subject with a normal expression one second and then smiling a second later. And using subtlety, the results are very natural looking! The easiest method of changing expressions is to simply click on a template. There are numerous templates to choose from and after youíve selected one, you can adjust the Expression Strength parameter to get that subtle adjustment for a natural look. If youíre so inclined, you can also create your own expression templates by making manual adjustments to the head shape, facial features, and facial muscles. FaceFilter Studio gives you an incredible amount of flexibility to get just the right look.
I can easily see FaceFilter Studio being used by professional photographs who take portraits for a living. This is especially true when working with children. And at a price of only $60, I can easily see this being used by consumers as well. As long as you get a pretty good base photograph to work with where the subject is looking directly at the camera and isnít making any kind of weird or wild expression, FaceFilter Studio will give you the power to get that perfect portrait that youíre looking for even if you didnít quite catch it during the shot.