Epic launches iOS app to provide live facial animation for Unreal

Today Epic launched its Live Link Face for Unreal Engine app for iOS. Announced as part of Unreal 4.25, the app allows developers to stream facial animation in real time onto characters in Unreal Engine. And you can have a play with it now.

It’s an unusual move for the engine builder to release software outside of the engine, but for ease of use it makes perfect sense. The app uses Apple’s ARKit and the depth-sensing front camera on recent iPhones to track your (or your performers) face. Unreal hopes that the app will find use both in motion capture studios and in simply desk-based scenarios.

Unreal also notes that the app has robust timecode support and frame accuracy, in order to play nicely with other capture data. It also features Tentacle Sync integration to work with a stage master clock via Bluetooth.

“The Live Link Face app harnesses the amazing facial capture quality of iPhone ARKit and turns it into a streamlined production tool,” said Addy Ghani, Director of Animation Technology at Verizon Media. “At RYOT we believe in the democratization of capture technology and real time content and this solution is perfect for a creator at home or a professional studio team like ours.”

And it’s that democratisation of development that Unreal is really keen to press here: “We aim to make facial capture easier and more accessible to creators going forward.”

While the excitement may be around Unreal Engine 5, UE4 that continues to see new features added and refined, we’re expecting a much smoother transition between the versions this time, with new rendering and lighting technologies added on top of the existing UE4 feature set, preserving the huge amount of work that’s gone into the tool, and the even greater developer familiarity with it.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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