Unreal Engine tech demo show’s Hellblade 2’s Senua in real-time action

Epic Games showed off new animation technology during its State of Unreal presentation at this week’s Game Developers Conference, illustrating how developer Ninja Theory is using Unreal Engine 5 to bring Senua to life for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. While the talk was primarily game developer-focused, the takeaway for most people will be “Damn, this looks pretty good!”

Melina Juergens, performance capture artist for Ninja Theory, and the actor behind Senua, showed how Unreal 5 can take footage of a performance using little more than an iPhone camera and turn it into usable facial animation. Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman technology processes that simple footage to apply detailed facial animations to a 3D model, expressing fear, anger, and more subtle looks without a human needing to finesse it.

But using a more sophisticated performance capture rig, it can also apply highly detailed facial animations in real time to Epic’s MetaHuman models. That’s what you can see in the video above — which also serves as a fresh, albeit brief, look at Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, a title we haven’t heard from in a while.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is coming to Windows PC and Xbox Series X. Ninja Theory’s sequel to 2017’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice does not have a release date.

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