Post Magazine

December 2019

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Page 25 of 53 22 POST NOV/DEC 2019 OUTLOOK ANIMATION A s creatives, we're constantly exploring new technologies and techniques to enhance our craft. Of course, this outlook is heavily rooted in the values and standards we set for ourselves as creative people; but it's equally in the service of our brand and agency clients, as each brief comes with its own unique set of challenges and needs. Our biggest challenge is making sense of that change — the only constant in today's media and technology landscape — while embracing the opportunities that come with it. Realtime rendering represents one of the most significant breakthroughs I've seen in 2019, especially with respect to how studios like ours are leveraging it to create animated content for brands. REALTIME RENDERING IS HERE TO STAY Whether you're looking for ways to im- prove the aesthetics of your next project, or empower your creative team with a more flexible and efficient workflow, there's a lot to like about realtime render- ing. Originally conceived as a tool for vid- eo game developers, game engines have become relatively commonplace these days for creators of AR and VR experienc- es. It's only logical that content creators specializing in motion design, VFX and animation have caught on to the upside of realtime rendering for everything from traditional TV spots to title sequences to product launches and demos. One great example of this is koooo- lalala's recent storm test using Unreal Engine ( watch?v=ecerIIClbMA). It's an exquisite example of photoreal- istic rendering; but it's also a testament to how far particle engines have come for realtime renders of things like rain and smoke, which can be difficult and time-consuming with traditional render- ing tools. UK-based Future Deluxe, my absolute favorite studio, is using game engines to break ground in the interactive space. One such example is a realtime inter- active experience that they created for Google, Morphing Clay, which allows viewers and users to sculpt ceramics with hand gestures. It's incredibly photo- realistic and responsive, adding a unique amount of play from the viewer — much more than a traditional render would ever allow — with the right amount of fidelity to not be cornered into being a novelty no one plays with. SCALING ANIMATION WORK EXPONENTIALLY Another thing I love about realtime rendering is how edit-friendly it is. You can change camera angles, update text or change languages without having to re-render everything because it exists in realtime. Realtime rendering also offers some powerful intangibles when it comes to scaling work. Let's say you've built a 3D city environment and your concept is seasonal, or time-of-day-based. With realtime rendering, you can augment your environment without redoing what you've already started. To take it a step further, this kind of flexibility offers a huge advantage for brands looking to maximize their reach by creating content in a highly-strategic manner, tailoring these worlds by location, culture, demo- graphic and so on. The bonus is, all of this added flexibil- ity comes without a significant uptick in cost. That's another layer of value we can extend to our clients, and a huge value proposition in courting new business op- portunities. Let's say a brand is consider- ing commissioning a 4K-10K photoshoot for a print ad. You might already have stunning product photography built into a realtime deliverable. A BALANCING ACT Having said all of this, many compa- nies in our field are still rooted in more traditional platforms like C4D, Maya and 3ds Max. Then, of course, every new technology presents a shift in the job market. The apparent threat is that realtime rendering solutions could put a lot of artists operating in the tradi- tional animation model out of work — and the learning curve is pretty steep taking animation into a game engine. It requires a considerable amount of coding, programming, overseeing and optimizing renders. Put simply, it is not as easy as After Effects. Still, I think there will always be a need for cel and character animation talent who can create within the more traditional 3D platforms, and then import those assets into a game engine. Realtime technology is insanely good, but it's not quite at the level as the industry-standard photoreal image-mak- ing tools that traditional VFX/animation studios use — but pretty darn close. Playback compatibility with digital platforms like YouTube and Vimeo is also a potential set-back. However, you can screen capture from Unreal Engine or Unity to broadcast traditionally on YouTube — but for a much more unique realtime experience, it is limiting. BY PJ RICHARDSON PARTNER/EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR LAUNDRY WWW.LAUNDRYMAT.TV LOS ANGELES & SAN FRANCISCO THE FUTURE OF ANIMATION IN REALTIME Google Morphing Clay by FutureDeluxe

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