Epic Games has announced a new, browser-based software tool powered by its Unreal Engine, called MetaHuman Creator, which can create highly realistic human faces and help more powerful realistic body movements and face animations. Epic took a sneak peek at the platform today in a couple of YouTube videos showing examples of creations built with MetaHuman Creator, and “metahuman” seems to be the term the company uses to describe this brand of virtual, non-real individual.
Epic says that MetaHuman Creator can be used in conjunction with modern motion capture and animation techniques to create real-world motion and human interaction scenes built for video games, movies, TV and other formats. The company says that these photorealistic people can be generated in minutes and equipped with unique hairstyles and clothes, and then they can be further tailored to meet the needs of a production. And these “metahumans”
“So far, one of the most difficult tasks in 3D content creation has been to construct truly compelling digital people. Even the most experienced artists require significant time, effort and equipment, just for one character, “said Vladimir Mastilovic, Epic’s Vice President of Digital Human Technology, in a statement. “After decades of research and development, and thanks to bringing companies like 3Lateral, Cubic Motion and Quixel into the Epic family, this barrier is being erased through the Unreal Engine, and we’re excited to introduce MetaHuman Creator.”
The humans created with Epic’s new tools do not approach photorealism to, for example, the digitally rendered photographs of fake humans produced by generative opponent networks, which is the AI technique underlying projects such as “This person does not exist.”
But as a kind of super-charged tool for creating video game characters, MetaHuman Creator seems able to create some shockingly realistic people who can easily pass for an actor who is taken in real life. Although we may have to wait to see what the tool is really capable of in the hands of third-party creators before judging whether it escapes the eerie valley.
It is not clear when Epic intends to release MetaHuman Creator outside of a broad release window for 2021, but interested developers and artists can sign up for updates on the Unreal Engine website.