Metahuman, a new artificial face by UnReal

Temps de lecture: 2 min

“MetaHuman creator” is the name given by UnReal Engine to its new creation. A 3D creation software that is able to generate ultra-realistic human faces. The result is disturbing, intriguing and questions the limits of human representation

UnReal Engines 1as a reminder, the company is a well-known player in the video game industry since it provides the graphics engine for games like Fortnite or Street Fighter V. unveiled its latest tool called MetaHuman creator 2Meet the MetaHumans, UnReal Engines, 2021, a 3D design software that allows creating hyper-realistic human representations. The software will mainly allow video game creators to produce realistic faces at a lower cost and faster, which was previously the opposite.

The realism of the faces is astonishing. With the high-resolution output, we can distinguish the pores of the skin, the blood vessels around the pupils, the base of the hairs that stand up. Sometimes, we still miss this sparkle of life that slips into each of us and makes our facial expressions perfectly alive, but we are closer than ever to close the uncanny valley. So much so, that we really can question this search for ultra-realism in our digital world.

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The metahuman creator

It is understandable that to immerse gamers in a video game narrative, hyperrealism is an extremely important factor, especially for certain games such as Red Dead Redemption, Tomb Raider, or Uncharted, whose main characters have reached iconic status in the community that some celebrities could envy them.

This search for hyperrealism in artificial characters directly echoes the rise of deepfakes and the trend towards synthetic human representation. A still small but growing part of human representations are generated by computers 3we think of the completely artificial influencer Lil Miquela who has 3 million followers on Instagram or the avatars of Soul Machine whose objective is to give a “safe” representation. Deepfakes like these synthetic humans have the power to deceive the viewer, to create a false visual relationship based on illusion, making the line between the representation of the real and the fictional even thinner and blurrier than it has ever been.

One can wonder about the long-term cumulative effect of synthetic representations in the public space, representations that are in many ways comparable to photoshopped images of models and movie stars (or even political representatives) and that have created many psychological disorders in some adolescents or adults.

Of course, with each new type of representation, new tactics are developed on the spectator’s side to understand its meaning and to appropriate it in order to integrate it into a coherent cultural field. What we perceive as deception will thus perhaps be perceived by other generations as alternative representations of our humanity.

Notes :

Notes :
1 as a reminder, the company is a well-known player in the video game industry since it provides the graphics engine for games like Fortnite or Street Fighter V.
2 Meet the MetaHumans, UnReal Engines, 2021
3 we think of the completely artificial influencer Lil Miquela who has 3 million followers on Instagram or the avatars of Soul Machine whose objective is to give a “safe” representation
Author avatar
Gerald Holubowicz
http://geraldholubowi.cz
Ancien photojournaliste et web-documentariste passé chef de produit spécialisé en innovation éditoriale, j'étudie l'impact des médias synthétiques (deepfakes) sur la fabrique d'une culture visuelle numérique. Après 10 ans d'interventions régulières auprès de différentes écoles de journalisme (EMI, CFJ/CFPJ, INA, Sciences Po Grenoble), j'interviens désormais à l'École de Journalisme et au Centre des Médias de Sciences Po Paris.