Epic Games’ Siren demo is both amazing and super-creepy

Eric Abent - Mar 22, 2018, 3:15 pm CDT
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Epic Games’ Siren demo is both amazing and super-creepy

Epic Games is no stranger to incredibly detailed motion capture technology. 2017’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was based on Unreal Engine’s motion capture capabilities, and it received a lot of praise for just how detailed the in-game character of Senua was. Now Epic is looking to take what it learned with Hellblade one step further, creating a new digital personality called Siren who is as impressive as she is unsettling.

For this demo, Epic partnered with four other companies: Vicon, Cubic Motion, 3Lateral, and Tencent. What sets Siren apart from other digital personalities similar to her is that she relies on real-time motion capture. Using technologies from all five companies, Unreal Engine is able to render Siren in real-time based on the actions of an actress who seems to be moving in tandem with her.

That’s impressive enough on its own, but the level of detail in Siren’s model takes this to a completely different level. In an interview with VentureBeat, Epic Games chief technology officer Kim Libreri discussed how Siren’s model has improved over Senua from Hellblade, noting that facial detail has drastically improved. For instance, Libreri says that Siren actually has 300,000 tiny hairs all over her face – something that graphics technology couldn’t support back when Hellblade was being created in 2016, but can now.

Add to that improvements to shading, reflection, and refraction, and we have Siren, taking us one step closer to CGI that’s indistinguishable from the real thing. There are still some spots that need work, Libreri admits, and for as advanced as something like Siren is, it’s still somewhat easy to tell that she’s a CGI character. Even then, this represents a pretty big jump in quality over what we saw in Hellblade, and it’s going to keep getting better from here.

While we may not see motion capture on Siren’s level make it into video games any time in the immediate future, this has pretty big implications for the industry as a whole. Outside of video games, the ability to create a digital personality in real time can be applied to a lot of different industries, especially when you consider the rising popularity of live streaming, so Epic and its partners are definitely onto something special here. Check out the demo above and then head down to the comments section and let us know what you think about Siren.


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