Computer Graphics World

Edition 1 2021

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14 cgw j a n • f e b • m a r c h 2 0 2 1 if there was a continuity issue, the editor would have to send notes back and either the production would have to re-shoot it or the post team would have to re-render it. Today we're seeing editors using the Se- quencer tool in Unreal Engine, so if there are continuity issues with anything digital – such as the way birds are flying in the background – the editor can fine-tune it themselves and move on. That is so powerful because it lets editors focus on telling the story and being iterative as they make changes, instead of being burdened by the process of passing notes and waiting on other departments to fix the issue. Another fascinating area for game en- gines is action design, or the stunt depart- ment. Because game engines are interactive and can be physically accurate, the stunt designer or stunt coordinator can pre-test every move ahead of time virtually, and ensure that everything is safe, effective, and has continuity. For instance, with a virtual car, you can ultimately make it perform like a digital twin of your physical car, and experiment with tweaking the suspension or the speed at which you take a turn, seeing the results instantly. Mapping out a stunt sequence like this also helps the cinematographer deter- mine the best camera moves ahead of time that will be necessary, along with determining the lighting design. So by the time everyone gets to the set, it's just a matter of execution. This approach is not only a lot safer, but it can further reduce the number of shoot days – thus saving precious time and money. Today's audiences have an insatiable desire for more and more content, and they're consuming it across a multitude of platforms. Whereas previously studios would have to rebuild the same assets for every use case – a film, a video game, a theme-park ride, an immersive experience, and so forth – now with game engines, the same original asset can be ingested and reused anywhere. This not only saves time and resources for all the vendors, but it en- sures continuity and quality for the brand, no matter how their asset is being deployed. Ultimately, human beings are storytellers. We connect and thrive by telling our own stories and bearing witness to the stories of others. With virtual production techniques and the efficiency and democratization of today's technology, more stories are going to be told and reaching more people than ever before. Aer many years of building toward this inflection point, I'm thrilled to finally see what unencumbered creative storytelling might look like. Miles Perkins is a key member of Epic Games' Unreal Engine team, driving strategic business devel- opment and adoption of real-time workflows in the M&E industry, informed by his extensive experience in film, television, and emerging technologies. He built his career over 23 years at Lucasfilm, and then moved to Jaunt, an early startup in the XR industry. money, responsible for delays and budget overruns too numerous to mention over the years. By enabling more collaboration before any filming even begins, anyone can now render those kinds of concerns moot. JUST BEGINNING That kind of collaboration and freedom dovetails nicely with one of our core beliefs at Unity: "The world is a better place with more creators in it." Our goal has been to develop real-time production tools that anyone can use, from students making their first film to those working on a big Holly- wood production. Since so many virtual production tools have hit the market in the past couple of years, we've had the chance to learn what works and what doesn't. We noticed a lot of holes in the way creators were developing content, and that the best way to plug them meant scalable archi- tecture, responsive programming, and an all-in-one solution. Unity's status as a leading platform for creating and operating interactive, real-time 3D content means we can offer that solu- tion. Our foundation in the gaming industry is the starting point, as developers use Unity on all platforms to build video games that need to have thousands, sometimes millions, of interactive objects rendered at 60 fps as a player advances through a world. That kind of power is a natural fit for real-time production, and more and more creators are realizing it. Jon Favreau is one of them. The acclaimed director and producer put Unity to use while creating The Lion King, constructing a virtual Serengeti inside the engine. Of course, the result wasn't animation, but rather an ambi- tious live-action film that utilized traditional camera techniques within a virtual space. What appeared to viewers as a gorgeously realized expanse was almost entirely filmed on a set just 70 x 40 feet. Unity's commitment to real-time produc- tion is only ramping up. With moves like the acquisition of Digital Monarch Media, which built proprietary technology (that shined in movies like Blade Runner 2049) on top of the Unity engine for virtual cinematography even before joining our team, we continue to provide robust tools for anyone looking to unlock their own creative potential. Change can be scary, and there's no question that real-time production is a massive change from how TV and movies have long been put together. But limits are even more frightening, and if 2020 taught us anything, it's that you never know precisely when you might run into new ones. What real-time production does above all else is provide an environment for all the talented people in film to work in a limitless envi- ronment, free from hardware or budget restrictions. If you have every lens, infinite dolly track, infinite lights, infinite everything, wouldn't you be able to get to the heart of the story you want to tell that much faster? That freedom to experiment and collab- orate, from start to finish and regardless of location, is at the heart of what most people call virtual production. But it's the real-time aspect of it all that is the key, and even when other factors remain uncertain, you can be sure that it will only grow in prominence as we forge ahead in 2021 and beyond. Rory Armes is the vice president of Solutions Development at Unity, where he leads development of broader platforms, solutions, and applications that help facilitate the virtualization of digital content processes using real-time 3D. Prior to joining Unity, Armes developed games both personally and for Electronic Arts, [ EPIC CONTINUED FROM PG 12 ] [ UNITY CONTINUED FROM PG 13 ]

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