Replica Studios Opens Early Access for Integrating Synthetic Voices into Unreal’s MetaHuman Creator
Synthetic voice platform Replica Studios has opened early access for integrating its AI voices into Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman Creator. The combination provides artificial speech to the hyperrealistic digital characters built with Unreal’s virtual humans.
Replica Studios provides AI ‘voice actors’ generated from recordings made by human performers. The AI turns text into speech, with the user able to customize elements like the pace and the mood or emotion they want the AI to convey. It’s far faster than traditional reshooting and script adjustments, and while AI voices are not a perfect imitation of human speech, the potential savings in money and time are huge. As part of the agreement to record their voices, the actors are paid a piece of the revenue for any projects using their AI counterparts. With the integration, Replica’s voices will lip-sync in perfect time with the digital characters put together on MetaHuman Creator. Replica first began beta testing a plugin for Unreal Engine in November, and developers have used it to record more than 16,000 audio sessions.
“Traditionally, animators manually animate the face and lip movements to match the voiceover, which gets recorded separately, often losing days or weeks to this process over the lifecycle of a project. Replica’s Voice AI platform enables text-to-animation pipelines to render dialogue and narration within minutes,” Replica CEO Shreyas Nivas said. “While we’re only letting in early access developers into our AI voices beta program for Unreal Engine MetaHuman Creator, soon millions of game developers and animators with access to the MetaHuman Creator will be able to access our library of AI voice actors to give their MetaHuman Creator avatars a voice.”
Unreal has worked with Replica for a while now. Voices generated by Replica were used in making the animated film Cassini Logs, which won the Unreal Engine short film competition. Unreal’s launch of MetaHuman Creator in February has only amped interest in virtual humans. Real-time adjustments with the tool can keep the illusion of a real person going, whether in a film, video game, or another context. The whole process happens on a browser-based app to speed up the development process, and the characters can be collaboratively built online with Unreal Engine Pixel Streaming. Instead of programming, the process is more like sculpting clay.
Competition is rising rapidly among synthetic voice and virtual human companies. AI voice startups like Supertone, Resemble AI, and Veritone are all nabbing funding and clients. And virtual humans are popping up in all sorts of venues, whether Nestle Toll House’s virtual human “cookie coach” Ruth, YouTube star Taryn Southern’s virtual clone, or CoCo Hub’s artificial popstars. The tech is easy enough to use that even a casual user can produce impressive fake videos like this fan-made trailer for Skryim voiced solely by AI. Replica’s partnership with Unreal is a milestone for a technology whose spread seems poised to accelerate over the next few years.
“We’re about to see a major transformation in the way game narratives are created and experienced by audiences,” Nivas said. “These lower barriers to entry and faster times to market mean that we’ll be seeing a shift to higher quality, more narrative driven, more realistic looking and sounding games sooner than you’d expect.”