I think these were made by Mackinnon and Saunders (correct me if I'm wrong) Does Se-ma-for make this type of armature as well? Looks like Andy Gent created similar for Isle of Dogs and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The pros are that you can achieve very subtle organic animation.
The cons are that the expressions become quite limited because they are pretty baked into the faces. I was told they had a hard time getting many of the mouth shapes; like the oo's and m's. You can see what they are able to get in Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie. Also, very few people make them and they are expensive. A lot cheaper is to do a similar idea using wire inside the face instead of the mechanical parts and paddles.
Is that what you do Nick Hillagos?
Thank you, I'l check more about all the guys you mentioned.
We make wire armatures for facial expressions (not for lipsink yet..) like in this picture.
But I find it difficult to place them in the exact position inside the mold during casting. Somehow it always moves and after casting the wires are not exactly in the right place. Either they are too low or too high, too much inside the face or almost visible on the surface. And when I add teeth to it or more wires it's even harder to place them.
Also the amount of expressions that can be produced with it is limited, like you mentioned about the mechanical armatures.
Are there better techniques to make them? maybe something with more options of expressions?
I use wire in a block of wood for face movements, very similar to that photo.
I did have trouble placing the wires perfectly, until I started making a removable neck block to put the neck wires into, with the mould formed on that block as well as the clay sculpture. The head block is small enough that I can see into the face and tell when the wires are sitting right. I paint some silicone into the mould to make a skin first, then when that is set I pour a little silicone into the front half, just enough so when i place the head armature, using the chest block to locate it just right, the mouth and eyebrow wires are partly covered by silicone. When that sets, I can slip the neck block off, put the back of the mould on, and pour the rest of the silicone through the neck. The wires are locked into the silicone, so they stay in place. I'm getting the wires much better placed than when I was casting heads in foam latex. You can see the process in this video:
if you look in the armature section here I have some mechanical heads I made