Unreal’s new MetaHuman Creator (MHC) web-based tool looks great from what I can see on YouTube and other places. Nice, clear interface with fairly crisp imaging. Created to make human-looking creatures without falling into the uncanny valley and all that stuff.
Web-based tools are not new. I use them frequently and quite a bit lately testing services for use by our viewers and members. I rarely have a problem but high-end web-based services like MetaHumans is another story altogether. As good as it looks in articles and on videos, if you don’t have the bandwidth, you don’t get to play with the big boys and girls.
Not everyone lives in a city or even a large town. Not everyone has services like fast, reliable internet (c’mon Elon… get those satellites launched) or the bandwidth to use a high-end web-based service. While it is extremely rare that I cannot use such a service, apparently MetaHumans falls into that category. In fairness, this also happened with a high-end marker-less video animation service I tested.
Before I go any further let me say what does work. When I say not usable for everyone… what I mean is… I haven’t been able to successfully download and use a MetaHuman character and have been trying off and on for several days.
I can see the MHC interface but it’s barely readable at times. It’s like watching a digital movie with bad to poor reception. Blocky chunks of screen that are sometimes legible but most times not. I tried it on a wireless connection first and had a terrible time, so I went to a wired connection and fared a little better at first it seemed. Then things got blocky, and when you can’t read labels things go downhill fast and it became difficult to use.
I’m not familiar with the interface as it’s in beta and don’t know if I ever will be with the current situation as I’ve never had a completely clear screen when using MHC. I can guess easy enough at what a lot of things are and some of the menus have thumbnails so I see what is going on there, but changes can take an excruciatingly long time.
Some labels on the left are hard to read, the stats on right were impossible to read most times.
OK, maybe excruciating is a bit much, but I have little patience for anything digital coming down from the cyber heavens. I wanted it last week… not tomorrow or even later today. A reality of today’s “shop from home” pandemic life. I did develop a kind of fade-in-and-out rhythm as I squinted through digital blocks and slow speed.
Some screens just hung there … for what seemed like an eternity … waiting for something, anything, to happen. On the wired connections, it did spin up much faster and was a bit more responsive, but it still felt like I was viewing it through some kind of “drunk driving” goggles with the inevitable digital blocky-ness taking over.
Creating a character wasn’t that difficult. The Blend process is a bit different for shaping, but it gets the job done. The method is weird though… much prefer sliders… but you work with what you got. What I could make out of the GUI seemed confusing at times. There are lots of edit points on characters that were more confusing than they were helpful as it took a long time to react to changes.
As I said before this is probably all bandwidth-related as I see images and videos of a much sharper interface than I can get wireless or wired. That is the downside to living in a rural area with middling internet service and no incentive for companies to improve it. As to how this compares to Reallusion’s Character Creator… well… it doesn’t from what I’ve seen so far.
MetaHumans is in its infancy and Character Creator 3 is a mature product that continues to update and improve so it’s natural, at this state, that MetaHumans doesn’t have the ability to compete in terms of features, and ease of use, just to name a couple of things. For this user, it’s not a zero-sum game. I intend to use both tools if I need to. Most of you know I am a loyal user of Reallusion products but I still use other products, as long as they benefit me in some way.
I’m not giving up. I’ll keep trying to get a usable character downloaded and… gasp… dare I dream big… animate it!!! Time will tell.
To get a clearer look at this new tool, jump over to Nemirc’s review and have a read.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.