What happens when you cross 3D tutorial, machinima animation, and Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman Creator human capture tools? Well, a bunch of stuff, but maybe the most promising is a how-to show hosted in the tools.

If you’re thinking this sort of thing could transform live – hybrid – virtual performances, especially with another few months of lockdowns ahead again on Earth, but also things like music videos, you’re thinking like I’m thinking.

Unreal Engine joins a host of recent developments in augmented reality, VR, and 3D modeling that make these technologies easier and – very often, cost nothing. Epic like to call this stuff “Meta-” – think metaverse and Neal Stephenson‘s Snow Crash, only now it’s real, whereas in 1992 we were playing 2D games and BBSing. Wait – that was a lot of fun in 1992, so onto the part where we make 2021 better and not, uh, depressing.

But yes, thanks to introducing MetaHuman Creator, you may already have seen a bunch of automated production of humans and creatures from the tranquil foothills of the Unreal Valley.

MetaHuman Creator is an insanely easy way to create photorealistic characters for inside Unreal Engine, and it’s now free in Early Access. The hook – you have to use these in Unreal. Have at it:


Unreal have some great tutorials there, but part of getting this to look different from the demos is adding some other ingredients. And that’s where Blu the alien, the made-up character in the Xanadu show, comes in.

Unreal Valley.

There’s no pricey motion capture stage here like back in the day. Instead:

The face stuff alone is cool, and you can try it out with a free app (Live Link Face) and a free download of Unreal, provided you have a recent iPhone. “Recent” is pretty forgiving though – you might get better results with an iPhone 12, but you don’t need one. Here:

Recording Facial Animation from an iPhone X

Anyway, we only have the teaser of Xanadu, but I love the idea of a Mr. Wizard – but he’s a Guardians of the Galaxy character – but he’s teaching you Unreal. And as it happens, I’ve been talking to various folks about what might be possible with hybrid environments and teaching. Why not use the virtual environment to also teach the virtual technology.

Oh, come to think of it – we’ll be doing exactly that next week using an early-access/pre-release VR tool for modular music making, so stay tuned.