Unity’s award-winning Demo team, the creators of Adam and Book of the Dead, is working on a new short film called The Heretic. It’s a real-time cinematic running at 30 fps at 1440p on a consumer-class desktop PC. The first part of the project was revealed at GDC 2019.Watch The Heretic GDC reveal
Visual quality out of the box
The Heretic uses a broad range of Unity’s graphics features, including every possible aspect of the High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP). In 2019, it is possible to achieve close to cinematic visuals in real-time with the help of Unity’s built-in area lights, high-quality shadows, volumetrics, reflections, advanced materials and more. HDRP is now a fully featured, production-ready working environment.
The cinematic look of The Heretic demo was achieved with the latest version of Unity’s post-processing features: motion blur, bloom, depth of field, film grain, color grading, and Panini projection. In Unity 2019.1, they have been upgraded to be more physically correct and are now deeply integrated with HDRP.
The Visual Effect Graph is used throughout the project for various effects, in order to achieve increased volumetric ambience and to augment existing code-driven VFX.
Extending Unity’s Lighting solutions
The Heretic is lit entirely by real-time lights. This meant super fast iteration for the artists, while maintaining a high quality bar and performance.
The Demo team is working on a probe-based lighting solution to solve use cases currently not covered. A first iteration of the new system solution was applied in the Megacity demo and is being extended for the full version of The Heretic.
Get early access to some of the latest Unity features in our 2019.1 beta.2019.1 beta
Taking on the challenge of creating a realistic digital human
One of the biggest artistic and technical challenges is creating photorealistic, animated humans. The Heretic is Unity’s first attempt to tackle this, and is scoped very conservatively with the primary purpose to establish a pipeline and a bar of quality.
The Demo team’s pipeline combines 3D and 4D scanning in order to obtain both a high-quality set of textures and poses, and believable, realistic movement. It is based on the services of commercially available vendors: Infinite Realities for the 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 through the 3D scanning. This approach gives better results than using any of the two techniques individually. The pipeline for the reconstruction of the digital human was completed by attaching the eyelashes, eyebrows, stubble and hair with the help of dedicated attachment tools. The shaders for skin, eyes, teeth, and hair are based on HDRP.
The Demo team is preparing a package with the tech and shaders used for the digital human in the film so you will be able to use them in your own projects.
Discover the technology behind “The Heretic”
In this session, recorded at GDC 2019, Unity Evangelist Andy Touch shares insights into how the team used the latest features in the High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), with powerful customizations enabled by the Scriptable Render Pipeline (SRP), to showcase how Unity can power the high-end visuals in The Heretic.Watch now
Our Demo team has produced many visually strong and narratively compelling demos in high fidelity that show our continuous advancements in real-time rendering. They have won two Webby Awards and receive much recognition at film festivals and online.
Book of the Dead (2018)
This is a first-person interactive demo created by the Unity Demo team and rendered in real-time. It showcases the capabilities of Unity 2018 for powering high-end visuals for game productions.
The Neon environment uses only Asset Store models. It was created with Unity 2017.1, the Post-Processing Stack v1, and Volumetric lighting packages.
About Unity’s Demo productions
The Demo team’s productions drive advanced use of Unity 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.
Focusing on graphics, the team explores and pushes the limits of what is possible with Unity. They are willing and able to take the risk – and absorb the pain – of basing entire productions at the bleeding edge of technological innovation.
Writer, Director, DP
Lasse Jon Fuglsang Pedersen
Animation Director, Tech Animation Lead
Character Art, Simulations
Plamen ‘Paco’ Tamnev
Environment Art Lead
Additional VFX Art
Scanned Environment Assets
Anders Brogaard Jepsen
Camera motion capture, Color Grading
3D and 4D scanning
4D data pre-processing
Advanced Facial Rig
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
Special thanks to Natasha Tatarchuk
© 2019 Unity Technologies ApS
“The Heretic” in the press
- Unity’s latest demo is a gorgeous sci-fi short starring a lifelike virtual hero
- Unity’s Latest Demo is Visually Stunning ‘The Heretic’
- Unity's latest tech demo is a film I'd watch more of
- Witness the Power of Unity With Heretic Real-Time Demo, Megacity Tech Demo
- Unity Engine showcases one of the most impressive real-time demos we’ve seen, called The Heretic
- The Heretic Unity Tech Demo Teases 4D Photogrammetric Characters , HDRP Solution