CARY — Epic Games says it is committed to creating “believable digital humans” in its games. That’s why it’s acquiring UK-based Cubic Motion, a provider of automated, “performance-driven” facial animation technology and services for video games, film, broadcast, and immersive experiences.
The move, the company added, builds upon its earlier acquisition of 3Lateral, a Serbia-based developer of digital humans technology and creative content.
“Digital humans are not only the next frontier of content creation, but also the most complex endeavor in computer graphics,” said Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games, in a statement.
“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.”
“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.”
“Facial animation that conveys the slightest nuance of human expression is essential to crossing the uncanny valley,” added Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri. “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.”
Founded in 2009, Cubic Motion has already partnered in several noteworthy Unreal Engine real-time demonstrations, including the first “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” live character performance at GDC 2016, followed by “From Previs to Final in Five Minutes,” which earned Best Real-Time Graphics and Interactivity at SIGGRAPH 2016.
Cubic Motion also collaborated with Epic, 3Lateral, and other partners on the “Meet Mike” (2017) and “Siren” (2018) photorealistic digital humans animated by real-time performance capture.
Cubic Motion’s facial animation technology has also been used on many notable AAA titles including Sony Interactive Entertainment’s “God of War” and Insomniac Games’ “Marvel’s Spider-Man.”
Cubic Motion’s Persona system, launched mid-2019, provides an end-to-end hardware and software solution for capturing and translating an actor’s performance onto their digital counterpart in real time, and enables immediate character facial animation in Unreal.
Cubic Motion will continue to support its customers and industry partners while also accelerating efforts around Persona and Unreal Engine real-time facial animation.