Faces of the Metaverse: Personal Identities in the New Digital Realm

What is the metaverse?

The ‘M word’ seems to be on everyone’s lips these days – especially in the creative industries. But what exactly is the metaverse? The metaverse is defined as a digital space of interconnected virtual worlds, visualized through the use of virtual or augmented reality headsets. Although still a concept, there is considerable excitement about the possibilities that this new space will unlock, both creatively and commercially. 

The metaverse will be somewhere that we will be able to work, socially interact, play and even create in real-time: a parallel world to our real lives. We have already witnessed how digital spaces have become a part of our daily life – from social media to video calls, online shopping to games. This shift to the metaverse will be powered by real-time 3D graphics technology,  with game engines such as Unreal Engine 5 and Unity making it possible to create rich and detailed 3D environments that thousands of users can inhabit and explore simultaneously.

A key aspect in our extension into the online world will be the creation of avatars as  a means of establishing an online identity to act as our digital representative in the virtual world.  We will require avatars to represent us as we shop, socialize, learn and work in the interconnected online environment of the metaverse.

Personal identity will play a huge part in representing ourselves in the metaverse, and the options for how we may want to appear will be many and varied. In many applications, users will likely want an avatar that looks completely different from their real-world self. However, in some applications, users may prefer to use a digital double: an avatar  that imitates their exact appearance in the real world, takingform as an animated version of themselves. Some platforms like Meta have already adopted a simplistic stylized form of online avatars. Others may use photorealistic avatars that are more lifelike.

Avatars already exist within many modern online multiplayer video games – for example, Epic Games’ Fortnite requires players to choose an avatar to represent them in the game. Fortnite also often features virtual celebrity appearances, with pop stars performing virtually to an audience of user avatars on the platform. Some celebrities, like Travis Scott, are represented by digital double avatars that have been specially created to look like their real life self. 

Further expansion of the metaverse will also lead to the growth of virtual storytelling and digital celebrity culture. We’ve already seen artists embracing the virtual shift, with Snoop Dogg debuting his metaverse-inspired avatar in a recent music video. Celebrities will want to lock down their virtual identities, which no doubt is driven by the massive earning potential in the new and evolving metaverse economy.

What is the metaverse?

It is a perennial challenge to capture and deliver the essence of a real human face. Getting the complexities of a human face right is not easy. In order to truly surpass the uncanny valley when animating digitalfaces it is essential to capture the key micro-expressions and subtleties of the face – if you want to create photorealistic avatars or characters for your metaverse project. Creating and animating ‘true to life’ faces for digital humans will pose a challenge for developers planning to launch characters into the metaverse. 

Faces matter in online communication because they are crucial for conveying emotion — something that is fundamental to human interaction. And it is game engines that will be able to drive the transformation from simple avatars to realistic digital humans with their ability to render  increasingly photorealistic characters. 

DI4D’s Solution: Creating Faces for the Metaverse

As an industry leader in facial capture for digital double characters, DI4D is ideally placed to support the growing demand for realistic faces in the metaverse.

Our proprietary facial capture tools streamline the creation of digital doubles, by precisely capturing facial performance using an advanced stereophotogrammetry pipeline that faithfully reproduces intricate facial details. We have played a key role in the creation of realistic faces for many AAA video games including Call of Duty and F1 2021.  Our technology is poised to support metaverse projects by helping create realistic digital doubles for this evolving space. Want to know more? Get in touch! 

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