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Recreating a 10,000-Year-Old Shaman Using MetaHuman

The MetaHuman technology helped archeologists bring a 10,000-year-old shaman back to life.

Epic Games has unveiled its amazing new project which brings a 10,000-year-old shaman back to life reconstructing not only his appearance but also his facial expressions providing a quick glimpse of how this person could look in real life.

For this new project, a research and development company 3Lateral, which is a part of Epic Games, teamed up with Sofija Stefanović, Professor of Physical Anthropology at the University of Belgrade, and her team as well as with Cubic Motion, also a part of Epic Games family, and the Unreal Engine team to develop the MetaHuman framework that helped reanimate the shaman.

MetaHuman's latest release brought a new Mesh to MetaHuman feature in Unreal Engine that enables users to make their own custom facial mesh and convert it into a MetaHuman, fully rigged and ready to animate. This new feature shares the same core technology that was used to bring the shaman back to life.

The shaman's skeleton that was found by the archeologists in Lepenski Vir settlement in Eastern Serbia helped the scientists to determine the man's height, weight, gender, age, and ethnicity and was used to begin the reconstruction of his appearance.

Using a Peel 2CAD-S scanner that captured hundreds of 2D images, the team was able to restore the shaman's facial features which were then stitched together using RealityCapture so that eventually the team formed a 3D virtual model of the shaman's skull and 3D printed it to produce a physical model.

This model was then used to create a forensic facial reconstruction during which the experts added muscle and skin layers using clay. This clay reconstruction was later again scanned using the Peel scanner and reconstructed with RealityCapture to create a digital model. 

After the team applied basic skin and eye textures, they put the mesh through the Mesh to MetaHuman process.

"Using automated landmark tracking in Unreal Engine 5, Mesh to MetaHuman fit the MetaHuman topology template to the shaman scan," the team explained. "This new mesh was then submitted to the cloud, where it was matched to a MetaHuman with similar facial geometry and proportions to the shaman, and automatically bound to the MetaHuman facial rig."

When this process was complete, the character could be opened in MetaHuman Creator – at this stage, the team already was able to see the shaman come to life, using several preset animations in the application. Then, inside MetaHuman Creator the team created a more realistic skin, hair, teeth, and wrinkles based on the analysis of available DNA. Once the character's appearance was complete, the team could finish the traditional 3D reconstruction and animate the shaman.

You can learn more about this incredible project here. Also, don't forget to join our new Reddit pageour new Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we are sharing breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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