FACSGen 2.0 animation software: generating three-dimensional FACS-valid facial expressions for emotion research

Emotion. 2012 Apr;12(2):351-63. doi: 10.1037/a0026632. Epub 2012 Jan 16.


In this article, we present FACSGen 2.0, new animation software for creating static and dynamic three-dimensional facial expressions on the basis of the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). FACSGen permits total control over the action units (AUs), which can be animated at all levels of intensity and applied alone or in combination to an infinite number of faces. In two studies, we tested the validity of the software for the AU appearance defined in the FACS manual and the conveyed emotionality of FACSGen expressions. In Experiment 1, four FACS-certified coders evaluated the complete set of 35 single AUs and 54 AU combinations for AU presence or absence, appearance quality, intensity, and asymmetry. In Experiment 2, lay participants performed a recognition task on emotional expressions created with FACSGen software and rated the similarity of expressions displayed by human and FACSGen faces. Results showed good to excellent classification levels for all AUs by the four FACS coders, suggesting that the AUs are valid exemplars of FACS specifications. Lay participants' recognition rates for nine emotions were high, and comparisons of human and FACSGen expressions were very similar. The findings demonstrate the effectiveness of the software in producing reliable and emotionally valid expressions, and suggest its application in numerous scientific areas, including perception, emotion, and clinical and neuroscience research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Emotions* / classification
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Research*
  • Software Validation*
  • Young Adult