The Heretic

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

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 microsurface 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 digital human character model with a demo scene is now available for download on GitHub. You can use it as a learning resource or for non-commercial projects.

The technology we developed for our complete data pipeline, from the acquisition of 3D and 4D data through processing and into set up in Unity is also available on GitHub. You're free to use these in your commercial productions and build on top of them as you see fit.

Both the digital character and the technology stack are also in this Unity Asset Store package.

Real-time VFX workflows in The Heretic

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.

The Morgan character asset is now available for you to download and import into your projects.

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

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