There were a lot of topics discussed, but the main focus was on getting all the facial animation for the dialogue to be generated by software, rather than completely hand-keyed. (If done by hand, it would take four animators TEN YEARS of work around the clock, 24/7, no breaks, solid work to get it all done for every bit of dialogue.)
More after the jump.
This system is useful for more than simply human faces, as Calithlin explains:
However, there were also some slides on aliens and how their animations for dialogue could use the same system with just some tweaks to their animation rigs. From the pictures I saw (one of them not included) there were Bith, Devaronian, Abyssin, Gamorrean, Nikto, Arconan, Weequay and two I did not recognize.
He goes on to give his impressions of the presentation:
The animations produced for the dialogue were very lifelike and well done considering it is mostly procedurally generated as opposed to hand-done. Every character canl be given a set emotion that determines their general mood, and beyond that every line they speak will be animated on top of that with another layer of animation (are they disgusted, sad? happy? Over 27 emotive facial expression).
It is certainly impressive that BioWare has developed a method to quickly generate facial animations for a wide variety of alien species with very disparate facial structures. Many games have fallen short in that regard, with facial animations on par with wooden puppets. Manually designing animations can overcome this limitation but is extremely time-consuming. From the information given in this session, it appears BioWare has put together the best of both worlds: accurate and life-like facial animations, and efficient production times. In a game with so much dialogue, this technology becomes even more important.
Thanks again to Calithlin for the great information. For photos taken by Calithlin at the session, visit his thread on the official forums. Hat tip to Gregthegen for the heads up on the story.