Unity Acquires Ziva Dynamics for Realistic Humans

Unity Technologies has announced it is acquiring Ziva Dynamics, one of several recent acquisitions, as the company behind the popular Unity game engine seeks to stay competitive in the 3D game and simulation space.

Unity is a major game engine used by indie game developers and AAA studios alike. First released in 2005, the engine is suitable for 2D and 3D games, film, and simulations. Recently updated titles which use the engine include Valheim, Phasmophobia, and Rust. Nintendo also used the engine for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.


Although Unity has been a popular choice for game developers, it’s been facing competition. Epic Games’ Unreal Engine has been making leaps and bounds, attracting interest from developers looking for next-gen capabilities. Last year, Epic revealed the MetaHuman Creator Tool for developers using Unreal Engine, which allows anyone to easily create ultra-realistic human characters. It makes sense, then, that Unity has had to respond in kind.

In an announcement posted this week, Unity Technologies announced the acquisition of Ziva Dynamics, in what could simplify the creation of realistic human characters for Unity developers. Ziva Dynamics claims to use a combination of machine learning, deep learning, and biomechanics to deliver realistic, deformable characters in real-time. The announcement included a video of Emma, a simulated person used as a tech demo for Ziva’s technologies. Apart from humans, the system can also be used for clothes, animals, and other deformable materials which require complex simulation. Unity is promising the effects work well in both realistic and stylized games, and render in real-time on consumer-grade hardware thanks to ZivaRT.

Canadian-based Ziva Dynamics was founded in 2015 by James Jacobs and Dr. Jernej Barbic. Its technologies have been used in AAA games like Hellblade 2 and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. But it’s Ziva’s flagship software, ZivaVFX, which has been used in some major projects on the big screen, including Game of Thrones, John Wick 3, and Venom.

This is not the only recent acquisition by Unity in the VFX space. Late last year, Unity announced it was acquiring Weta Digital. The New Zealand-based studio, co-founded by Sir Peter Jackson, is known for its VFX work in titles such as Lord of the Rings and Avatar, among other big-name films. Unity’s recent push to acquire new technologies, particularly those that make it easier to work with realistic physics and graphics, could be good news for big and small game developers alike.

Presently, Ziva’s pricing structure appears unchanged for developers who want to purchase their tools. In the announcement, Unity claimed it wants to make it “easier, faster, and cheaper to have artists and all creators realize their visions” and seeks to “democratize” Ziva’s toolset. Hopefully this will mean the technologies seen in Ziva’s products will be accessible in the Unity engine in the short future. This would be particularly helpful for smaller studios and indie teams who might not have the resources to invest in high fidelity VFX solutions.

As Epic impresses audiences with MetaHuman and Nanite in the lead up to a full Unreal Engine 5 release, Unity is reminding the creative community that it has no intention of being left behind.

Source: Unity

Source: Gamerant

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