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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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Yeah 2021, digital people: Meet The MetaHumans

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Okay, so Elon Musk had a point about Fear of AI, but luckily there’s a tell to these new “MetaHumans” from Unreal Engine dropping by your eyeballs in 2021. That tell? Well, their teeth for example, kind of cookie cutter, as well as the mouth cavity. Where’s the tongue movement, geniuses?

Kidding aside, you may want to check for these subtle tells on your mobile screen, tablet, or even ye old Desktop PC in the coming year. Because Unreal Engine has these MetaHumans locked and locked to deploy into advertising, movies, or even your favorite new Twitter follows.

But what's not to like? They are exceptional gaming denizens, coming back to life from their Westworld AI Heaven (or lower). You can pick from 30 different hairdo's, 18 body types, eight layers of humanoid functionality.

Unreal has got the Tyrell Corp. on the run with mega MetaHumans

Unreal on the uses of Pixel People and their potent Pixel Possibilities

Creating truly convincing digital humans is hard. It takes a huge amount of time, effort, and skill, not to mention costly equipment and staff. There have been some great examples running in Unreal Engine over the past few years, from fictional characters like Senua and Siren, to digital copies of Andy Serkis and Mike Seymour. Companies like 3Lateral and Cubic Motion have led the field in creating performance capture-driven 4D animation; we’re proud that both of those companies are now part of the Epic family.

Creating one high-quality digital human is difficult and time-consuming. Scaling that effort to create many diverse digital humans of the quality required by next-gen platforms and high-end virtual production is a formidable task indeed. That’s why today, we’re incredibly excited to offer you a first glimpse of MetaHuman Creator.

MetaHuman Creator is a cloud-streamed app designed to take real-time digital human creation from weeks or months to less than an hour, without compromising on quality. It works by drawing from an ever-growing library of variants of human appearance and motion, and enabling you to create convincing new characters through intuitive workflows that let you sculpt and craft the result you want. As you make adjustments, MetaHuman Creator blends between actual examples in the library in a plausible, data-constrained way. You can choose a starting point by selecting a number of preset faces to contribute to your human from the diverse range in the database.

You can select from around 30 hair styles that use Unreal Engine’s strand-based hair, or hair cards for lower-end platforms. There’s also a set of example clothing to choose from, as well as 18 differently proportioned body types. When you’re happy with your human, you can download the asset via Quixel Bridge, fully rigged and ready for animation and motion capture in Unreal Engine, and complete with LODs. You’ll also get the source data in the form of a Maya file, including meshes, skeleton, facial rig, animation controls, and materials.

Once you have your asset, you can animate it using performance capture tools—you can use Unreal Engine’s Live Link Face iOS app, and we’re also currently working with vendors on providing support for ARKit, DI4D, Digital Domain, Dynamixyz, Faceware, JALI, Speech Graphics, and Cubic Motion solutions—or keyframe it manually. Animations created for one MetaHuman will run on any other MetaHuman, enabling you to reuse work across projects.

MetaHuman Creator will be ready for test-driving as part of an Early Access program within the next few months. Sign up to get all the news and updates straight to your inbox. 

Can’t wait that long to meet the MetaHumans? To give you an idea of the quality of the digital humans you’ll be able to create, we’ve made two fully finished sample humans available today for you to explore, modify, and use in your Unreal Engine 4.26.1 or later projects. You can download the project from the Learn tab of the Epic Games launcher, or get it from the link below.

Unreal Engine

We are leaving the Uncanny Valley in 2021, real humans. Watch your six!  ;)

# # #


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About Quendrith Johnson

Johnson Quendrith

LA Correspondent for

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