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In a nutshell: Epic's Metahuman Creator promises to make content creators' lives a snap when designing CG character models. The tool went live today in early access, but expect to wait a few days or longer to get into the application. Epic does not want to overwhelm the servers all at once.
Back in February, Epic Games unveiled a cloud-based Unreal Engine tool called "Metahuman Creator" that allows graphic designers to quickly create CG 3D human models for use in video games or movies. Words alone can barely do justice to the realism of the textures and animation. If you missed it, it's best just to let the characters speak for themselves, as you can see in the video from February below.
On Wednesday, Epic announced Metahuman is ready for early access. However, access is by request only for now—designers and the curious can signup through Epic's access portal. Interest in the app has been high, and due to its cloud-based nature, Epic is carefully adding people to early access. My confirmation email said it should take a few days for my account to be activated but noted that "wait times may vary."
That said, the Metahuman Creator looks user-friendly enough that even a novice can tinker with it and create unique CG characters.
"MetaHuman Creator is so easy to use, you may not even need to open the user guide," says Epic. "Simply select a starting point from the diverse range in the database, choose several more to contribute to your MetaHuman, and blend between them. Then, refine your character with sculpting tools and control guides, just by dragging on the asset."
The Unreal team released a new video today showing the tool in action, and it does indeed look pretty easy to use (above). I especially like the way you can use multiple faces to blend together into something more unique. Sculpting looks very easy as well.
Once you have created an avatar, you can animate it in real-time with no additional programming. Metahumans have default facial and body animation rigs. If you want to go beyond canned animations, Epic suggests using its Live Link Face app for iOS, which captures your facial gestures and translates them to your Unreal character.
I'm no game designer, but I am interested to see what I can do with it, if only just for curiosity's sake.