MetaHuman Creator, a new animation design tool developed by Epic Games, brings us closer to the creation of characters that can fool us into believing that they are real. The tool allows artists to easily create and animate extraordinarily realistic computer graphics characters. MetaHuman Creator uses AI techniques in several steps of this creation process. Once MetaHuman characters are created, they go “downstream” to the films, games or other applications for which they were intended. They are most often “non-player characters” (NPCs), the equivalent of extras in a film. But as the AI programs that animate these characters become more sophisticated, the NPCs can demonstrate a wide range of believable interactions with other characters and their environment.
The idea of creating a synthetic human goes back to antiquity—for example, Pygmalion in Ovid’s Metamorphoses—and is a rich and persistent trope in the world of artificial intelligence. From 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL 9000, to the orcs in Lord of the Rings, and the fluid bodies of Scott Eaton's figure studies, we strive to bring the appearance of sentience to the machines we make.
The MetaHuman Creator editor is designed for fast creation and editing of highly realistic human synthetic characters. These videos offer a sample of the various editing modes available. New characters can be created and altered by blending pre-existing characters; facial and body features can be sculpted with a cursor; and specific details such as skin tone, texture and eye colour can be controlled with a high degree of precision.
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Epic Games, MetaHuman Creator (excerpts), 2022, Courtesy Epic Games