Unity Technologies released a new “cinematic teaser” last week showing just how detailed graphics can be that are made with its platform. The company makes the cross-platform game development engine named Unity.
The demo, called “Enemies,” opens on a woman sitting behind a desk at the center of a lavish, light-filled room. As the “camera” creeps closer to the woman, the floor surrounding her desk opens. It reveals a complex gear system that looks like something straight out of the steampunk subgenre. Sunlight reflects off of the surface of the desk and her hair as she considers her next move in a game of chess. Despite her focus, the pieces have mainly been toppled.
To the untrained eye, the demo looks like it could be a trailer for a live-action movie. Only as the woman’s background transitions to outer space does it become obvious there’s some sort of digital trickery involved. Even then, the level of detail in the woman’s skin and hair begs the viewer to believe she’s real. The woman’s lips move like a real person’s, and the bishop in her hand smolders under a lifelike flame.
This isn’t the first time Unity has tried its hand at creating a realistic virtual person. When the company released its nearly 8-minute short “The Heretic” in 2020, it was to show off its ability to create natural-looking human characters. This was made possible with Unity’s High Definition Rendering Pipeline and VFX Graph. Since then, Unity says it has introduced an improved 4D pipeline, a Skin Attachment system allowing for high-density meshes like peach fuzz, more realistic eyes, a brand-new skin shader, and tension tech that facilitates easier blood flow simulation and wrinkle maps. Unity’s Webby award-winning Demo and R&D teams also collaborated to create a new system for creating and rendering strand-based hair specifically for “Enemies” and plans on releasing this system after it’s been validated with Weta Barbershop.
Unity played “Enemies” at the Game Developers Conference late last week. While many improvements used to create “Enemies” are already a part of Unity 2021.2, Unity plans for features like its new hair system to become available alongside an updated Digital Human 2.0 package in Q2 of this year.