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Unity's latest tech demo is a film I'd watch more of

Cor, this is pretty fancy alright

High-tech stubble, virtual eyebrows, and a rad-as-heck crowbot feature in Unity's latest tech demo showing off their game engine's shiny new features. The Heretic is another wee film, a mysterious mix of sci-fi and fantasy that's looking all sorts of fancy running in real time on what Unity call "a consumer-class desktop PC." Not a cheap desktop PC, I bet. If you enjoying cooing over pixels, coo on, my friends.

That's only the first part of the short film, Unity say, with more to follow.

Unity say that was rendered in real time with real-time lighting at 30fps in 1440p. There's a difference between a cinematic tech demo running like that and a game doing the same, obvs, but it's still real fancy.

The Heretic's page gets into the technical nitty-gritty, throwing around terms like "colour grading" and "Panini projection." When someone's naming technical features after a sandwich you know they're pulling your leg, but let's go along with it. Unity's Demo also said more about the making of their fancy man. Here comes the science bit - concentrate.

"The Demo team's pipeline combines 3D and 4D scanning in order to obtain both a high-quality set of textures and poses, and believable, realistic movement. It is based on the services of commercially available vendors: Infinite Realities for the high-quality scanning, Russian 3D Scanner for highly accurate data pre-processing, and Snappers for facial rigging.

"The 4D scanned data, which preserves the realism of the actor's performance, is supplemented by bringing back the micro surface details, wrinkles, pores, etc., obtained through the 3D scanning. This approach gives better results than using any of the two techniques individually. The pipeline for the reconstruction of the digital human was completed by attaching the eyelashes, eyebrows, stubble and hair with the help of dedicated attachment tools. The shaders for skin, eyes, teeth, and hair are based on HDRP."

They plan to release a package of yon fella's tech and shaders so we can all inspect and use them ourselves too.

No word yet on when we'll see the rest of The Heretic. I'm well up for more of that shadowy cybercrow.

All engine creators love showing off their tech, but Unity do go the extra mile. That's probably partially because Unity's accessibility have made it popular among developers who don't have the multimillion-dollar budgets and mega-realistic art of yer EAs and yer Activisions, unfairly earning the engine a bad reputation amongst Internet weirdos. There's definitely a gatekeeping element too, with 'Unity' almost used as a cuss by dafties with strong ideas about "proper games." But look, evidently Unity can put in a strong showing with the apogee of the medium: stubbly gruff men.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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