A 3D model with a MetaHuman rig and an iPhone

MetaHuman Animator: Revolutionizing Indie Game Development

In the competitive landscape of video game development, indie studios often grapple with the challenge of producing high-quality character animations on limited budgets. MetaHuman Animator, developed by Epic Games, is revolutionizing this space by offering a tool that enables the creation of AAA-quality facial animations, previously the domain of well-funded studios.

MetaHuman Animator simplifies the complex process of character rigging. Rigging, a crucial step in character animation, involves creating a skeleton that dictates how a character moves. Traditionally a complex and time-consuming process, MetaHuman Animator’s automated rigging system allows even small studios to achieve high-quality results. This advancement is significant, as detailed rigging is essential for creating realistic character movements and expressions.


The Role of Motion Capture in Game Animation

At the heart of MetaHuman Animator’s capabilities is its use of motion capture (mocap) technology. Mocap involves recording the movement of objects or people to create animated digital characters. This technology is particularly effective in capturing detailed human expressions and movements, translating them into digital characters with lifelike accuracy.

Facial motion capture, a specialized form of mocap, focuses on capturing the subtle nuances of facial expressions. This technology is vital for creating characters that can connect emotionally with players, allowing for the portrayal of complex emotions and reactions.


Integrating Advanced Mocap Solutions

The integration of MetaHuman Animator with body motion capture solutions like Rokoko and Xsens further enhances its capabilities. This combination allows for the creation of characters that not only have realistic facial expressions but also exhibit natural, fluid body movements. The synergy between MetaHuman Animator and these advanced mocap solutions represents a significant advancement in character animation, particularly for indie studios.

A motion capture setup
Credits: Lisha Dunlap

Addressing the Limitations: The MetaHuman Creation Process

While MetaHuman Animator excels in creating high-quality animations, it faces challenges in the realm of digital double creation, especially when compared to detailed portrayals like Norman Reedus in “Death Stranding.” Unlike this game, where the digital double was crafted with meticulous detail to accurately represent Reedus, MetaHuman Animator’s reliance on a predefined ‘face space’ system can limit the ability to replicate real-life individuals precisely.

This system, although efficient for generating a wide range of faces, may not capture the unique, specific nuances of an individual’s facial features, which are crucial for creating an exact digital double. For projects that demand a high level of authenticity and detail, akin to the digital portrayal of Norman Reedus, studios might find the MetaHuman Creator’s capabilities a bit restrictive. This highlights the need for additional tools or methods to achieve a true-to-life digital double, where every aspect of the person’s appearance is replicated with utmost accuracy.



Case Study: Freaky Hoody and the MetaHuman Animator



A prime example of the capabilities of MetaHuman Animator is embodied in the character ‘FreakyHoody.’ Created using Eisko’s proprietary scanning systems, which employ a hybrid approach of photometry and photogrammetry, FreakyHoody represents a full-body digital double that exemplifies photorealism with its highly detailed geometry and physically-based rendering (PBR) textures.

What sets FreakyHoody apart is the process of its creation. Unlike characters generated through the MetaHuman Creator, FreakyHoody bypasses this step, thanks to Eisko’s ability to create a MetaHuman-type rig directly from the scan data. This approach ensures that the appearance of the original subject is accurately preserved, without the limitations imposed by the ‘face space’ system of MetaHuman Creator.

This case study demonstrates how Eisko’s technology synergizes with MetaHuman Animator, offering a solution that combines the best of both worlds: the advanced animation capabilities of MetaHuman Animator and the precision of Eisko’s digital double creation process. The result is a character that not only looks incredibly lifelike but also moves with the realistic fluidity and expressiveness that MetaHuman Animator is known for. This breakthrough showcases the potential for studios to create highly authentic and engaging characters, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in digital animation.



Conclusion: The Future of Game Development with MetaHuman Animator

As the gaming industry continues to evolve, the demand for more realistic and emotionally engaging characters grows. MetaHuman Animator, with its advanced capabilities and integration with mocap solutions, is at the forefront of meeting this demand. For studios looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible in game animation, MetaHuman Animator offers an unprecedented opportunity.

For those aiming to achieve the pinnacle of realism in character animation, partnering with Eisko offers a unique advantage. Our proprietary 3D scanning technology, combined with a MetaHuman rig compliant with MetaHuman Animator, sets a new standard in the industry. We invite you to explore the possibilities with Eisko and elevate your game development to new heights.


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