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Unreal Are Creating 'MetaHumans', Says "Digital Humans Are The Future"

Unreal Are Creating 'MetaHumans', Says "Digital Humans Are The Future"

The tool will “empower anyone to create a bespoke photorealistic digital human.”

Imogen Donovan

Imogen Donovan

To err is human, but Epic Games is chucking that old saying out of the window with its MetaHuman Creator toolset, which uses the Unreal Engine to create lifelike humans that look and act extremely real.

"Bringing compelling real-time digital humans to life is incredibly challenging and time-consuming. It can take months of research, costly scanning equipment, and an army of tech artists," said the company in the announcement. It's true: most humans that we make, either in video games or as robots or even dolls, have something that isn't quite right about them. This is the uncanny valley, which is a relationship between the degree of an object's resemblance to a human being and our emotional response to that object.

As an object looks more and more lifelike, we relate to it on an increasing scale. You'll be able to understand the emotions conveyed by a stick man if you slap a nose, mouth and eyes on their face, essentially. But, once a certain threshold in humanness is surpassed, then we don't like it at all, and it triggers feelings of fear and unease. That's known as the "valley."

Why do we have this response? There are a number of possible explanations. The worst one is that in the past, humans were visited by things that could mimic our own visages and were able to infiltrate our groups to attack us, pretending to be our mother, uncle, son, whoever. It is also the most outlandish explanation, but I've got your brain working overtime now, haven't I?

"What if we could make the process radically simpler, faster, and more scalable-without compromising on quality?" asked Epic Games, et voila. The MetaHuman Creator will "empower anyone to create a bespoke photorealistic digital human, fully rigged and complete with hair and clothing" in a tiny fraction of the time that it would have required through traditional means.

In its intricacy, MetaHuman Creator "sets a new benchmark for both the believability of digital humans." Users will be able to "directly manipulate facial features, adjust skin complexion... even edit your character's teeth!" I'm curious, to be honest. I want to give it a go so I could make myself in the program and see how much it creeps me out. Seriously though, this could cut development time frames down for studios creating photorealistic games in Unreal Engine, and it offers the tech to teams that otherwise wouldn't have gotten a look in.

MetaHuman Creator /
Epic Games

Sure, lots of places are already achieving this: Naughty Dog, Ninja Theory, Quantic Dream. But it's the ability of these digital humans to, for example, squint their eyes and you can see the tiniest "muscles" contract under their "skin." There are going to be some very interesting advancements in immersion over the next couple of years, thanks to Epic Games' new toy. Just before anyone gets carried away, let's not use the MetaHuman Creator for world domination and/or any nefarious deeds. Thanks.

Featured Image Credit: Epic Games

Topics: epic games, News