Fortnite creator Epic Games has released a new tool that’s designed to capture an actor’s facial performance using an iPhone and apply it to a hyper-realistic MetaHuman within Unreal Engine in minutes.
Epic calls the feature its MetaHuman Animator which was first showcased at the Game Developers Conference held in March. While the tool is currently available for developers to try out, Epic has released a new video that shows what it’s capable of.
The company’s short film highlights nuanced facial animation, but the primary advantage emphasised by Epic is the speed at which MetaHuman Animator produces results. The company says, “The animation is produced locally using GPU hardware, with the final animation available in minutes.”
Adding that this capability has the potential not only to enhance cost efficiency in studios by streamlining performance capture but also to enable them to engage in experimentation and foster more creativity.
Next-level animation tool
“Need an actor to give you more, dig into a different emotion, or simply explore a new direction?” The company asks. “Have them do another take. You’ll be able to review the results in about the time it takes to make a cup of coffee.”
Epic says that facial animation can be applied to a MetaHuman character, “In just a few clicks,” and the system is even smart enough to animate a character’s tongue based on the performance’s audio.
As of 2020, the Unreal Engine has allowed for performance capture using iPhones through the introduction of Epic’s Live Link Face iOS app. However, the recent integration with Epic’s MetaHuman technology brings a new heightened level of detail.
In addition to its compatibility with iPhone 12 and newer models, Epic states that MetaHuman Animator can also be utilised with, “Existing vertical stereo head-mounted camera [systems] to achieve even greater fidelity.”
Epic says the recently released Blue Dot short film created by its 3Lateral team serves as a demonstration of the capabilities of its animation tool. The film features actor Radivoje Bukvić delivering a monologue based on a poem by Mika Antić.