Epic Games have been firing on all cylinders for a while now and the latest news from the company saw them acquire Serbian company 3Lateral, who've been working with Sweeney and Co and specialise in human character modelling and animation.
You're probably already familiar with 3Lateral's work, as their portfolio is quite a hefty one. If the animated short A Boy & His Kite or the scarily accurate Andy Serkis animation don't ring a bell, then the likes of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice and Until Dawn, to name but a few, surely will.
3Lateral have been featured in many of Epic's highlights from the Game Developer's Conference back in March 2018. The company presented some jaw droppingly realistic faces being rendered in real-time in Epic's Unreal Engine 4.
Vladimir Mastilovic, founder and director at 3Lateral stressed that creating digital humans is a nuanced but important task, one that's of crucial importance in storytelling.
"Observing, analysing and reconstructing these mechanisms has always fascinated us at 3Lateral, and we are excited to have joined a like-minded team at Epic Games with such strong desire to solve this near impossible problem", he added.
Epic's CEO Tim Sweeney said, "Real-time 3D experiences are reshaping the entire entertainment industry, and digital human technology is at the forefront. Fortnite shows that 200 million people can experience a 3D world together. Reaching the next level requires capturing, personalising, and conveying individual human faces and emotions."
As was the case with the purchase of Finnish anti-cheat specialists Kamu, 3Lateral will be free to do business as normal without Epic meddling with their business too much. Now, however, the company will also be tasked with advancing "the state of the art in Unreal Engine's support for virtual humans and creatures.
Epic Games, Unreal Engine
At the same time, 3Lateral will serve as a recruitment point for Epic as the region obviously doesn't lack in talented developers. Ultimately, it seems like a win-win scenario for both. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to watch that Andy Serkis video for the 50th time today.