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The Heretic

Our award-winning Demo team, the creators of Adam and Book of the Dead, completed a new short film, The Heretic.

Watch The Heretic

Visual quality out of the box

The Heretic was created on stock Unity 2019.3 and pushed Unity’s graphics features to the limit, including every possible aspect of the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) with the integrated Post-Processing stack, and the Visual Effect Graph.

HDRP now ships with built-in Shader Graph master nodes for realistic hair, eyes, and fabric. The production team used Visual Effect Graph throughout the project for various effects, including for the design and creation of a complex VFX-based character.

The challenge of creating a realistic digital human

Creating photorealistic digital humans is a complex technical challenge. The Heretic is our first attempt to tackle this. We aimed to establish a pipeline and a bar of quality appropriate to this challenge.

Our pipeline combined 3D and 4D scanning to obtain high-quality textures and poses and believable, realistic movement. It’s based on the services of commercially available vendors: Infinite Realities for high-quality scanning, Russian 3D Scanner for highly accurate data pre-processing, and Snappers for facial rigging.

The 4D scanned data, which preserves the realism of the actor’s performance, is supplemented by bringing back the micro surface details, wrinkles, pores, etc., obtained from 3D scanning. This approach gives better results than using the two techniques individually. We completed the pipeline for the reconstruction of the digital human by attaching the eyelashes, eyebrows, stubble, and hair with the help of dedicated attachment tools.

The Demo team is preparing a package with the tech and shaders used for the digital human in the film so you can use them in your own projects.

Discover the technology behind “The Heretic”

Watch programmers Robert Cupisz and Lasse Jon Fuglsang Pedersen Digital Dragons 2019 talk to learn more about how The Heretic was created, including a detailed breakdown of our Digital Human 4D data pipeline, and the creation process for the character Boston.

At Unite Copenhagen, Technical Artist Adrian Lazar and Unity Evangelist Andy Touch explained how the team used the Visual Effect Graph to bring the Morgan character to life. By creating the simulation with GPU particles, the artists can change the shape, gender, appearance, and behavior of the character and see their adjustments in real-time.

Watch Unite talk

Previous demos

Our high-fidelity demos showcase Unity’s continuous advancements in real-time rendering. Our Demo team has won two Webby Awards and is much lauded at film festivals and online.

About Unity’s Demo productions

Focusing on graphics, the Demo team explores what is possible with Unity and pushes its limits through autonomous creative projects. The team consists of experienced game professionals led by Creative Director Veselin Efremov, who writes and directs the demos and is responsible for their final look.

They are willing and able to take the risk – and absorb the pain – of basing entire productions at the bleeding edge of technological innovation.


Demo Team

Writer, Director

Veselin Efremov


Silvia Rasheva
Aleksander Karshikoff

Technical Director

Robert Cupisz

Senior Programmer

Torbjorn Laedre
Lasse Jon Fuglsang Pedersen

Art Director

Georgi Simeonov
Veselin Efremov

Animation Director, Tech Animation Lead

Krasimir Nechevski

Technical Animation

Christian Kardach

Lead 3D Artist

Plamen “Paco” Tamnev

Technical Art

Adrian Lazar
Robert Cupisz

Sound Supervisor

Aleksander Karshikoff

Systems Programmer

Malte Hildingsson

Junior Programmer

Dominykas Kiauleikis



Jake Fairbrother

Morgan VO

Charlie Sinhaseni

Additional Art

Music Composer

Fredrik Emilson


Nikolay Toshev

Environment Art

Treehouse Ninjas
Julien Heijmans


Cyril Jover

Additional VFX

Vlad Neykov

Additional Rigging

Frederik Bjerre-Hyldgaard

Additional Shading

Nicholas Brancaccio

3D and 4D scanning

Infinite Realities

4D data pre-processing


Motion Capture

Aneta Spasova

Additional Animation

Sticky Brainz
Hugo Garcia
Anders Brogaard Jepsen
Take One

Camera Motion Capture, Color Grading

Mihail Moskov

Additional Simulations

Zdravko Pavlov

Audio Production

Pole Position Production

Sound Designers

Eric Thorsell
Max Lachmann

Casting Agency

Side UK

Advanced Facial Rig


Scanned Environment Assets

courtesy of Quixel

Unity Technologies R&D

Sebastien Lagarde, Thomas Hourdel, Kuba Cupisz, Jesper Mortensen, Tim Cooper, Yibing Jiang, Marie Fétiveau, Jean Blouin, Julien Fryer, Paul Demeulenaere, Sean Thompson, Rune Stubbe, Julien Ignace, Francesco Cifariello Ciardi, Tobias Alexander Franke, Aras Pranckevičius

Special thanks to Natasha Tatarchuk

© 2020 Unity Technologies ApS

“The Heretic” in the press