Computer Graphics World

July / August 2016

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j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 6 c g w 4 3 film production because they have been developed to provide real-time performance. They're fast, adaptable, designed to work with motion capture, animation, film content, and programmatic content, with fast 3D rendering to make it all possible. On that note, Yerli says Film Engine can work with any renderer. It accepts 3D models and animation from any industry tool. As for motion capture, well, it happens in real time. And, it's all available in the engine. The real promise, though, of the Film Engine is that people are able to work with one tool for previs, production, and postproduction. W A L K I N G T H R O U G H Yerli is not alone in his enthusiasm for the power of game engines. Autodesk says it is building on its Stingray game engine so it can do more. In fact, the company used technology from Stingray to beef up its Flame production tool. And, technology from Stingray was used to create Autodesk's new Matchbox Camera FX, which enables in-camera post-processing effects, including ambient occlusion, reflections, and field-of- view adjustments that can be applied and adjusted in real time. Autodesk is also promoting the use of Stingray in other fields, such as AEC, to develop walk-throughs, which let people interact with 3D designs. With a process the company is calling Live Design, users can experience and interact with BIM- accurate designs in real time through a Revit-to-3ds Max-to-Stingray workflow. In addition, the workings of mechanical designs can be demonstrated or tested with the help of Stingray. N E W M E D I A At this year's GDC, Epic Games moved the ball further. In its opening keynote session at the conference, CEO Tim Sweeney talked about the larger vision he sees for Unreal's engine technology, and showed work being done by Ninja Theory for its Hellblade franchise to make his point. Director Tameem Antoniades showed a gorgeous, and disturbing, scene featuring Hellblade's Senua fighting her way through the hallucinations of a vision quest. The camera zooms in on her face and shows all the tiny and subtle moves that convey her emotions. Great content, but also the type of stuff the audience of GDC drinks in continuously throughout the conference. But then they pulled back the curtain and revealed the actress, Melina Juergens, in a mocap rig acting out the scene to feed the demo in real time. "What the camera was to the 20th century, the engine is today," Sweeney said. "The whole world is being re-envisioned and re-invented around real-time 3D. This is a revolution that is much bigger than the gaming industry." Sweeney told the audience that non- fiction uses of the Unreal Engine have increased "tenfold." Like Unity, the company has a showcase on-line that illustrates the depth of the applications with ones being developed for AEC walk-throughs and custom configurators. In the Epic meeting rooms, the company presented virtual showrooms built by Rotor Studios in Sydney that let customers build their own Toyota. T H I S I S B I G , R E A L LY ! "Game engine" was probably never all that great of a name for the kinds of real-time interactive authoring tools that have evolved. Notice that Sweeney simply calls his technology "our engine." Crytek calls its new tool a "film engine." And, undeniably, "game engine" does describe the technology's central role in the world's most profitable content-creation industry. All that money has stimulated huge innovation. If a tool is widely useful, it will be widely used, names be damned. But, there's something else going on here, and it's been going on for a long time. Sweeney hints at it when he talks about the importance of the camera in the 20th century. We're seeing the evolution of digital media that gives actors the ability to directly drive their digital character or, conversely, to not even be on set. Gravity is remarkable for the fact that it is primarily an animated film, but no one ever thinks of it that way. And then there's the real word, finally, that we are getting a chance to walk around in movies – we can even roam about on Star Wars' Tatooine. Heck, we can walk around in a car engine, or sit in the cab of a tractor. The tools used to create content are helping change the content, and the fact that so many more people have access to the tools is accelerating that change. We are seeing the emergence of new applications that aren't games, but they are 3D, and they are immersive. They might tell stories, they might entertain, they might be educational, they might introduce new worlds to explore. They're kind of like real life… but digital. ■ EPIC'S UE4 IS BEING USED FOR MANY PURPOSES, INCLUDING REAL-TIME FILMMAKING. Kathleen Maher ( is a contributing editor to CGW, a senior analyst at Jon Peddie Research, a Tiburon, CA-based consultancy specializing in graphics and multimedia, and editor in chief of JPR's "TechWatch."

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