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New animation tech might see games one day leap over the Uncanny Valley

Remember being blown away by the fact that a game character's mouth would move when it talked. Or that it could blink? Or that it even had fingers?

We've come along way since the early days of 3D gaming, with titles like the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 achieving a level of visual fidelity that would once have seemed impossible. But even its leading characters suffer from slightly creepy faces – humans are programmed to spot imperfections and oddness in other humans as a Darwinian survival instinct, and so gaming characters tend to fall into what's known as the 'Uncanny Valley'. They're so close to being right, it makes them even more uncomfortable to look at.

But, if this demo reel for the Snappers Advanced Rip is anything to go by, we may one day leap across that gulf altogether:

Unreal tech, unreal visuals

Running alongside the Unreal Engine 4, a popular game engine for many modern titles, it shows a truly astonishing amount of facial expressions to be realistically rendered and manipulated in real time.

What's really special about the Snappers Advanced Rig is how it can stimulate facial muscles and their limitations. So, with a well-realised facial map, full or pores and stubble, the creases of a face and the movements of a muscle can be fully realised from grimace through to beaming smile.

For more on exactly how it works, and how to get involved using the tool for your own projects, visit the SnappersTech website.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves his gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Based out of TechRadar Towers, London, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK. He dreams of the day when he can pop on a VR headset and meet Lawnmower Man-era Pierce Brosnan. Sadly, Pierce doesn't share the dream.