Some people live and die by the mantra that you can master any skill in 10,000 hours. Epic’s newly released courses for using MetaHuman with Faceware Retargeter and Analyzer think you can become an earthly god of character emotional expression in about three hours and 10 minutes.
Let’s look at a realistic scenario: In Batman Begins, Christian Bale took five minutes of screen time to have Liam Neeson teach him how to swordfight on a mountain hockey rink and scare ninjas with exotic boom boom beans. So, compare that to your aspiring VFX artist learning to navigate Unreal Engine 5, and absorbing the intricacies of two separate programs in a single afternoon is completely doable…right?
Beginners to Unreal might not get it all at once but Epic’s learning course partnership with Faceware motion capture solutions is a pretty good place to start. Epic often produces online learning courses to back up its complex creative tools. Their latest detailed course is geared towards beginners in Unreal Engine and MetaHuman, those unfamiliar with Faceware, or maybe just the artists who want to get better at one of the coolest aspects of animation:
Creating characters who realistically emote.
The courses are partnered together – one teaches Faceware Analyzer and one travels through the logistics of Faceware Retargeter. The course is led by Simon Hibab, the Lead Cinematic Animator at Nesting Games.
The Faceware Analyzer tool allows the creator to track facial movement from video at a near-lifelike level. Human facial microexpressions are completely mirrored by Analyzer’s pixel-tracking technology that captures the real-time shifting flow of a human gaze.
The Faceware Retargeter tool gives the artist the power to digitally apply nuanced human emotion to any character. The tool utilizes a two-part character set-up where a creator first adds their rig controls into the character setup, and then creates an Expression Set, which is a pre-defined grouping of facial expressions. Once the user has implemented their character setup, they can work efficiently on their character with polishing, animation smoothing, and setting keys on attributes like joints and bone structure.
Epic released Mesh for MetaHuman in June, the first major feature of the MetaHuman Plugin. They continue to tactfully showcase their digital human technology and the Metahuman facial animation course is free for Unreal users who have Unreal version 4.27 or above. Viewers can learn unique character setup, tracking data on facial rigs, and how to correctly capture and edit a facial performance video.
The sibling courses are available in the Epic Online Learning Community. Access the Faceware Analyzer course here. Continue exploring the facial animation dark arts by then heading over to the Faceware Retargeter course.