Unreal + Virtual Production For Your Next Film
Unreal Engine + virtual production is becoming the new standard for filmmaking. How can you leverage game development technology for your next film?
- Why Unreal Engine for Virtual Production
- Is Unreal Engine 4 Really Free?
- How Unreal Engine for Virtual Production Works
- The Next-Gen Unreal Gaming Engine
- How to Leverage Unreal + Virtual Production
Why Unreal Engine For Virtual Production
Virtual production involves bringing together a spectrum of computer-aided technologies and virtualization methods. The Unreal game engine is powerful enough to seamlessly combine virtual and augmented realities with CGI and footage captured on sets.
Before COVID-19, movie studios would save this aspect for postproduction. But now previsualization (previs) has evolved. It now involves the process of creating versions of scenes to be reviewed collaborated on in real time. VFX (visual effects) are also integrated during the preparation stage. Art departments can ensure that everything in real-life works with virtual designs.
This method encourages a more iterative style of filmmaking. Filmmakers work with other teams to figure out visual details before and while actors are on set. With a real-time engine, like Unreal, assets can be previewed and updated right away. It removes some of the uncertainly that plagued traditional filmmaking. Review Epic’s Field Guide to learn more.
Is Unreal Engine 4 Really Free?
Yes. Well, kind of. Unreal Engine (UE4) includes a suite of tools that allow you to create new worlds. And there are a few licensing options that you can choose from.
- Unreal Engine End User License Agreement for Publishing: This license is free to use. When you launch your virtual production project, and your lifetime gross revenues exceeds $1,000,000 USD, you need to pay 5% royalties.
- Unreal Engine End User License Agreement for Creators: This license is free to use. And it is 100% royalty-free. Use it to create projects for internal use or develop content for clients.
- Options are available for custom licenses.
How Unreal Engine For Virtual Production Works
Creating previs imagery with virtual production + Unreal helps everyone on your team understand the final vision from the start. Using a real-time game engine does more than just 3D animation software. It helps directors, set designers, actors, and others understand the real-world physics of a scene. Creating high-quality images and keeping up with changes avoids the bottlenecks of long reviews and the risk of a reshoot. Now teams can make quick decisions with a positive and direct impact on the final film.
Let’s say your team is working on creating an asset that will be added into the film. Before anyone steps on screen or voices are recorded, the desired object can be built virtually. These assets can be used throughout the film and iterated on to meet specifications. No longer do VFX houses need to come in after the fact to match CGI with footage.
These assets can even be used for other productions. If managed and stored correctly, studios can adapt what they have already created to deliver fast. This creates higher quality and consistency across production.
Asset Tracking and Data Management
One of the most important technologies to make this a reality is a high-performing system that can manage and store the large files and massive amount of iterations needed for a final film. This technology to needs to also connect people in real-time.
For example, a cinematographer needs to see the virtual set in order to match the lighting on screen. Or if you have a character with different outfits, you may want to make one change to impact all other colors and styles they would wear throughout the scene. But how can you know where this file is and what changes have been made? If a similar change needs to be made across multiple digital assets, how do you know that you haven’t missed one?
Version control supports how you need to work. Using the right tool can help you store all of your digital assets in one central location, streamlining collaboration. Think of this as a foundation supporting your real-time engine. It can track and version everything and pull it all together for the final cut.
What other software do you need for virtual production?
The Next-Gen Unreal Gaming Engine
Unreal + virtual production is continuously evolving. On the horizon is Unreal Engine 5 (UE5). The technological advancements included in this updated game engine will make it easier for film and animation production.
They will expand on Unreal’s ability to build entire 3D environments and reshape workflows. The goal is to help achieve photorealism by allowing greater file sizes — and the use of 4K, 8K, and 12K textures.
By providing tools and content libraries within the gaming engine, artists can create more detailed visuals. These can then be imported right into Unreal for enhanced virtual production. It also will help artists react to scene and light changes quickly. Teams could change the sun angle depending on the time of day or adjust sets to react to a flashlight being turned on. Being able to adjust the light in the editor will save time and create a hyperrealist environment.
Alternatively, you can if necessary, spend hours shooting a scene taking place at dawn – the lighting and other elements in the scene are totally controllable.
How to Leverage Unreal + Virtual Production
Virtual production is the new frontier of filmmaking. And other industries are taking notice. Leveraging game tech opens up a world of possibilities.
To get the most out of your game engine, you need to use the right tools. Version control is the foundation for Unreal virtual production. It stores all of your digital assets and manage their iterations over time. Using version control can also help deliver really large files to your remote team members wherever they are located.
To get the most out of your game engine, you need tools that can match. Helix Core can help you get the most out of virtual production + Unreal. 19 of the top 20 game dev studios trust Helix Core to streamline their builds and manage all their assets, not just code.
Why Helix Core For Unreal Engine & Virtual Production?
Helix Core delivers lightning-fast performance for studios. Unlike other version control systems, it can manage all the large digital assets that are involved in virtual production. Using Helix Core with Unreal + virtual production gives your team a single source of truth for your entire project.
Binary files, audio files, video files, code, and more can all be managed inside a Helix Core depot. Then assets can be pulled into your Unreal game engine. See how Perforce Helix Core helped create The Mandalorian.
How Helix Core Helps Teams
Perforce Federated Architecture delivers large files around the globe, fast. It offers superior performance whether you are on-prem or are using the cloud. If you are using Unreal for virtual production, it helps you transport large binary files where you need them without the WAN wait.
And Helix Core integrates with more than just Unreal. It works with the most popular game enginesincluding:
See for yourself why so many studios choose Helix Core for Unreal virtual production. Plus, you can start free for up to 5 users and 20 workspaces.