A longtime Epic Games partner, with whom it has cooperated to create photorealistic digital humans first revealed at GDC 2016, Cubic Motion is now part of the company behind the Unreal Engine.
Cubic Motion is a longtime Epic partner and has been integral to numerous notable Unreal Engine real-time demonstrations, including the first “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” live character performance at GDC 2016, followed by the expanded “From Previs to Final in Five Minutes,” which earned Best Real-Time Graphics and Interactivity at SIGGRAPH 2016. Epic and Cubic Motion have continued to collaborate, showcasing high levels of quality and believability in photorealistic digital humans in “Meet Mike” at SIGGRAPH 2017, and “Siren” at GDC 2018.
Cubic Motion’s facial animation technology has also been used in the production of many notable AAA titles, including Sony Interactive Entertainment’s “God of War” and Insomniac Games’ “Marvel’s Spider-Man” titles where the frontier between what is a videogame and cinematic animation is blurred to extents that were not imaginable a few years ago.
The company also worked on HBO and Survios’ new virtual reality experience, Westworld Awakening, and many other titles. Cubic Motion’s intricate facial capture and animation technology, was also used to allow League of Legends fans to see the character Akali dance, talk, and react like never before. For China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) finals in September 2019, live broadcast K/DA heroine Akali was brought to life both for a dance number and real-time interview.
Persona, a new era for digital characters
A leading provider of automated performance-driven facial animation technology and services for video games, film, broadcast, and immersive experiences, Cubic Motion is also the company behind Persona, which paves the way for a new era in live digital facial performance, one where human actors, digital characters and audiences can co-exist and interact. Persona captures and translates an actor’s performance onto their digital counterpart, in real-time. Designed from the ground up for live performance, Persona enables immediate character animation in real-time engines such as Epic’s Unreal 4.
Announcing the acquisition of Cubic Motion, Epic Games says that “by joining forces, our teams are solidifying our commitment to advancing the state of the art in the creation of believable digital humans for all Unreal Engine users.” Cubic Motion’s talent will work hand in hand with 3Lateral, developer of innovative technologies that enable digitization of human appearance and motion at unprecedented levels of realism. 3Lateral joined the Unreal Engine team in January 2019 to lead development of the state of the art in real-time capabilities for the creation of virtual humans and creatures.
Crossing the uncanny valley
“We are delighted to be joining Epic Games and look forward with excitement to this next chapter in our story,” said Cubic Motion CEO Dr. Gareth Edwards. “Together, we are uniquely positioned to push the boundaries of digital human technology, bringing ever more realism and immersion to all forms of visual entertainment.”
“Digital humans are not only the next frontier of content creation, but also the most complex endeavor in computer graphics. With Cubic Motion bringing their computer vision and animation technology and expertise to our digital human efforts, Epic along with our team at 3Lateral are one step closer to democratizing these capabilities for creators everywhere,” said Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games.
“Facial animation that conveys the slightest nuance of human expression is essential to crossing the uncanny valley. We believe that holistically combining Epic’s Unreal Engine with 3Lateral’s facial rig creation and Cubic Motion’s solving technology is the only way to answer this challenge, and ultimately, to reach the pinnacle of digital human artistry with Unreal Engine,” said Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri.