Computer Laboratory

Technical reports

Automatic facial expression analysis

Tadas Baltrusaitis

October 2014, 218 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted March 2014 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam College.

Some figures in this document are best viewed in colour. If you received a black-and-white copy, please consult the online version if necessary.


Humans spend a large amount of their time interacting with computers of one type or another. However, computers are emotionally blind and indifferent to the affective states of their users. Human-computer interaction which does not consider emotions, ignores a whole channel of available information.

Faces contain a large portion of our emotionally expressive behaviour. We use facial expressions to display our emotional states and to manage our interactions. Furthermore, we express and read emotions in faces effortlessly. However, automatic understanding of facial expressions is a very difficult task computationally, especially in the presence of highly variable pose, expression and illumination. My work furthers the field of automatic facial expression tracking by tackling these issues, bringing emotionally aware computing closer to reality.

Firstly, I present an in-depth analysis of the Constrained Local Model (CLM) for facial expression and head pose tracking. I propose a number of extensions that make location of facial features more accurate.

Secondly, I introduce a 3D Constrained Local Model (CLM-Z) which takes full advantage of depth information available from various range scanners. CLM-Z is robust to changes in illumination and shows better facial tracking performance.

Thirdly, I present the Constrained Local Neural Field (CLNF), a novel instance of CLM that deals with the issues of facial tracking in complex scenes. It achieves this through the use of a novel landmark detector and a novel CLM fitting algorithm. CLNF outperforms state-of-the-art models for facial tracking in presence of difficult illumination and varying pose.

Lastly, I demonstrate how tracked facial expressions can be used for emotion inference from videos. I also show how the tools developed for facial tracking can be applied to emotion inference in music.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Baltrusaitis, Tadas},
  title = 	 {{Automatic facial expression analysis}},
  year = 	 2014,
  month = 	 oct,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-861}