Epic releases MetaHuman DNA Calibration Library
The updates expose the ‘DNA’ of MetaHumans – the sets of parameter values that define the shapes of the 3D characters’ heads, and the structure of their facial rigs – making them easier to share, and to customise.
Part of Epic Games’ framework for creating next-gen digital humans for real-time applications
Released in early access last year, MetaHuman Creator is a free browser-based, cloud-streamed tool for designing MetaHumans: realistic digital humans for videogames, CG animations and visualizations.
Users blend between presets to generate new characters, customising the proportions of the face with MetaHuman Creator’s Move and Sculpt tools, and adjusting skin and eye textures with slider-driven controls.
Alternatively, a free Unreal Engine plugin makes it possible to generate MetaHuman characters with faces matching 3D scans of real people, or existing character sculpts.
Users can customise characters’ hair and clothing by picking from libraries of customisable strand- or card-based hairstyles, and recolorable clothes, including tops, bottoms and shoes.
The characters generated can be exported for use in Unreal Engine or Maya via Quixel Bridge, the free asset-management tool for Quixel’s Megascans library, now integrated into Unreal Engine 5.0.
The animation rig includes both facial and finger controls, and is compatible with facial animation data captured using Epic’s free Live Link Face app.
MetaHuman Creator 1.3: share MetaHumans with collaborators as lightweight binary files
Characters created in MetaHuman Creator are tied to a user’s Epic Games account – until now, making it difficult for multiple artists to contribute to the look of a MetaHuman during the initial design phase.
MetaHuman Creator 1.3 improves that collaborative workflow, making it possible to export the data defining a MetaHuman character as .mhb file – a lightweight binary file format.
Other users can then import the .mhb file into MetaHuman Creator and iterate on the design.
As well as making it easier for teams to collaborate on MetaHumans, particularly when working remotely, the change should make it easier to track changes to MetaHumans in version control systems.
Epic Games’ free MetaHuman DNA Calibration Library makes it possible to edit the ‘DNA’ of MetaHumans. (Left) A MetaHuman rig being visualised in DNAViewer. (Right) The edited MetaHuman inside Unreal Engine.
Free MetaHuman DNA Calibration Library lets tech-savvy users edit the ‘DNA’ of MetaHumans
More fundamentally, the update exposes the ‘DNA’ of MetaHuman characters: the set of parameters defining the shape of the character’s head, and the structure of its facial rig.
Users can now download MetaHumans’ .dna files via Quixel Bridge alongside the 3D characters themselves.
Alongside MetaHuman Creator 1.3, Epic Games has released the MetaHuman DNA Calibration Library: a free set of tools for viewing and modifying MetaHuman DNA data, aimed at technical artists.
DNACalib is intended for editing MetaHuman DNA: for example, to rename character meshes or parts of the rig; remove joints, facial blendshapes or LODs; or to change blendshape delta values.
It is a C++ library with Python bindings, making it possible to modify DNA files using either language.
DNAViewer reads a DNA file into Maya, generating a 3D head with a functional facial rig inside the software. Users can export the rigged head model from Maya in FBX format.
As well as making it easier for studios to integrate MetaHumans into production pipelines, the new tools will let them “customise [MetaHuman characters] in ways that go beyond their original constraints”.
Pricing, availability and system requirements
MetaHuman Creator 1.3.0 is available in early access. It runs in the cloud, and is compatible with the Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari browsers, running on Windows or macOS. It is a free for use with Unreal Engine.
The MetaHuman DNA Calibration Library is available as compiled binaries for Windows and Linux. The source code is available under a custom licence. Its Python wrapper supports Python 3.x only.
DNACalib and DNAViewer are compatible with Maya 2022+.