Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

FACSGen: A Tool to Synthesize Emotional Facial Expressions Through Systematic Manipulation of Facial Action Units

  • Etienne B. Roesch
  • Lucas Tamarit
  • Lionel Reveret
  • Didier Grandjean
  • David Sander
  • Klaus R. Scherer
Original Paper


To investigate the perception of emotional facial expressions, researchers rely on shared sets of photos or videos, most often generated by actor portrayals. The drawback of such standardized material is a lack of flexibility and controllability, as it does not allow the systematic parametric manipulation of specific features of facial expressions on the one hand, and of more general properties of the facial identity (age, ethnicity, gender) on the other. To remedy this problem, we developed FACSGen: a novel tool that allows the creation of realistic synthetic 3D facial stimuli, both static and dynamic, based on the Facial Action Coding System. FACSGen provides researchers with total control over facial action units, and corresponding informational cues in 3D synthetic faces. We present four studies validating both the software and the general methodology of systematically generating controlled facial expression patterns for stimulus presentation.


Emotion Facial expression Software Research material Facial action coding system FACS 



This work was partially supported by the following sources: HUMAINE, 6th Framework Programme IST Multimodal Interfaces, The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) in Affective Sciences financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (n° 51NF40-104897). A grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (105311-108187/1 to David Sander and Patrik Vuilleumier). The “Programme d’actions intégrées Franco-Suisse Germaine de Staël” in collaboration with the Swiss Academy for Technical Sciences (to Lionel Reveret and David Sander).

The authors would like to thank Prof. Susanne Kaiser, Dr. Marc Méhu, Katia Schenkel, Birgit Michel, and Stéphane With (University of Geneva) for their expertise and guidance about the FACS, and Dr Mina Vasalou (University of Bath) for comments on drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Etienne B. Roesch
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Lucas Tamarit
    • 2
  • Lionel Reveret
    • 3
  • Didier Grandjean
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Sander
    • 1
    • 2
  • Klaus R. Scherer
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Centre for Affective SciencesCISA, University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.INRIARhône-AlpesFrance
  4. 4.Department of ComputingImperial College LondonLondonUK

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