Unity today announced it’d acquired Ziva Dynamics, the company behind revolutionary digital character creation. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Unity plans to “democratize” Ziva’s tools, to make them easier to use for developers of all skill levels.
Ziva and Unity announced their new pair-up with a video narrated by Ziva’s wholly digital person, Emma. The tech that Ziva uses to animate Emma’s facial expressions is called the ZRT Trainer. Ziva’s technology allows users to create people, animals, or similar items like cloth, and have them deform in realistic ways. Emma, for example, has been trained with 72,000 shapes and can make unique facial poses.
Ziva’s software has been featured in games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. You can also spot its handiwork in Game of Thrones and Godzilla vs. Kong. It was also used to bring the troll to life in the recent Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II trailer.
James Jacobs, Ziva’s CEO, told GamesBeat, “When Ziva was founded, we had this vision of making realistic character creation available to all creators. We think it’s going to be an important part of the future. When the opportunity presented itself to join forces with Unity, it was like a dream come true. They shared our values and our view of the world and the future.”
Unity plans to make Ziva’s tools accessible to all game developers and artists, regardless of skill level. According to the company’s announcement, it will also “accelerate the process of bringing Weta tools to real-time 3D through the cloud with the power of machine learning.”
Natasha Tatarchuk, Unity’s technical fellow and VP of graphics innovation, described Ziva’s technology to GamesBeat: “One of the most fundamentally revolutionary changes that Ziva brings is it allows a huge improvement in how creators can achieve believable, life-like character creation. It’s accessible to anyone who can run a variety of hardware, while still creating high-quality character deformation. You get all the benefits of the best motion-capture performance, but you can interact with it.”
Ziva’s are not the first digital tools Unity has acquired. Last year, Unity paid $1.6 billion to acquire Weta Digital’s tools. It’s also acquired tools like SyncSketch to make collaboration easier.