As of this morning. Epic Games has acquired game studio 3Lateral, a team recognizes for designing realistic computer-generated human characters. The Serbia-based team of over 60 people will continue to work on existing projects and founder Vladimir Mastilovic will "lead Epic Games' worldwide digital human efforts."
The video above features a digital performance by Andy Serkis, an actor with a lengthy history of roles powered by computer graphics, and was shared by Epic Games Senior PR rep Nick Chester on his twitter account. In it, you can see a realistic model of Serkis himself along with that same performance mapped to a non-human creature. The demo is showing off 3Lateral's new Meta Human Framework, which "merges volumetric capture, reconstruction, and compression technology" to produce a digital replica.
“Creating digital humans requires deep understanding of every aspect of our appearance and motion, both of which portray our inner self and tell stories around us. We read all these visual cues with great precision as instinct to analyze an image of another human being is deeply embedded in our DNA,” said Vladimir Mastilovic, founder and director of 3Lateral, in the Epic Games blog about the acquisition. “Observing, analyzing and reconstructing these mechanisms has always fascinated us at 3Lateral, and we are excited to have joined a like-minded team at Epic Games with such strong desire to solve this near impossible problem.”
3Lateral assisted in the creation of the models for Horizon: Zero Dawn, Batman: Arkham VR, and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Dom Matthews, the Commercial Director for Ninja Theory, described 3Lateral as the "perfect partner" for bringing Hellblade to life and stated that "it is in their blood to achieve the very best and that is what they did for us on Hellblade."
Here's a list of 3Lateral services, taken from the official website:
- Character concept
- Character rigging
- Face rigging
- Character modeling
- 3D Scanning
- Pipeline and consulting
In the official Epic blog post revealing the new deal, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said this regarding the new acquisition:
“Real-time 3D experiences are reshaping the entire entertainment industry, and digital human technology is at the forefront. Fortnite shows that 200,000,000 people can experience a 3D world together. Reaching the next level requires capturing, personalizing, and conveying individual human faces and emotions,” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in a statement.
3Lateral and Epic Games have worked together in the past, including the Unreal-built animated short A Boy and His Kite, but we'll have to wait and see what new projects will spring up from this new deal. Stay tuned to Shacknews for additional updates.