Unreal Engine falls deeper into the uncanny valley with MetaHuman Creator

The new cloud-based app aims to streamline hyperrealistic character creations.

Unreal Engine has been pushing the envelope on gaming and programming graphics (not to mention Lil Yachty performances) for years, but its latest offering looks to be one of its most impactful yet. Today, the company unveiled its new MetaHuman Creator, an upcoming cloud-based design app it claims will allow users to create near-photorealistic character designs in less than an hour. Unreal rolled out two brief highlight reels, and judging from the couple minutes of footage, we're all about to fall even deeper into the uncanny valley.

Meet the MetaHumans — "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," reads Unreal's press release statement. That's where MetaHuman Creator comes into play.

The new app will allow users to build their own characters through integration with Unreal's consistently expanding design and motion variant libraries "in a plausible, data-constrained way."

Initially, programmers will also have access to 30 of Unreal's strand-based hair styles, along with 18 different body types. Once finished, you can download your new designs "fully rigged and ready for animation and motion capture" for later use with the Unreal Engine, alongside its Maya file that includes "meshes, skeleton, facial rig, animation controls, and materials." MetaHuman Creator is designed to work in tandem with Unreal's performance capture products, including Live Link Face iOS app.

More 'unreal' options to come — While MetaHuman Creator is currently marketed for near photo-realistic creations, Unreal has stated it plans to expand options to encompass more outlandish, cartoony possibilities down the line. "These assets will take a certain amount of stylization without breaking that’s for sure. But if you wanted to convert them into something cartoony, that’s not something we have done with this first version but it’s certainly something we’re looking at as a high priority for the future," Epic Games' Vice President of Digital Humans Technology, Vladimir Mastilovic, explained to IGN today.

Two MetaHuman designs are available now — For the impatient among you, Unreal has pre-released two complete sample MetaHumans for download to test out on any version 4.26.1 or later Unreal Engine project. The pair of creepily real digital people is available here, as well as through the Epic Games launcher. While no release date for the full app is available yet, early access is expected to begin within the next few months.