Illustration Unreal + virtual production.
October 29, 2020

Unreal Engine + Virtual Production For Your Next Film

Digital Asset Management
Version Control

Unreal Engine virtual production is becoming the new standard for filmmaking. Get free training for how to do virtual production with Unreal (plus free virtual production tools).

What is Virtual Production in Unreal Engine?

Unreal Engine virtual production offers a powerful way to seamlessly combine virtual and augmented realities with CGI and footage captured on sets. Unreal engine is leading virtual production across industries, expanding the idea of what is possible. 

Before COVID-19, movie studios would save computer editing for post-production. But now, game engines like Unreal are revolutionizing previsualization, virtual set creation, and more. Teams can create versions of scenes before anyone is on set. They can then be reviewed collaborated on in real time. 

Using Unreal for virtual production encourages a more iterative style of filmmaking, allowing artists to innovate. Studios can work together to map out visual details before and while actors are on set. For actors, they can even see what the finished product looks like. This removes some of the uncertainly that plagued traditional filmmaking. 

Become an Unreal Virtual Production Pro

Learn how leading studios manage the large files and numerous iterations associated with Unreal Engine. You can get free training (and tools). 


Is Unreal Engine Free?

Yes. Well, kind of. Unreal Engine (UE5) 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.

Get the Unreal Engine >>

How Unreal Engine For Virtual Production Works

Creating art assets for virtual production with Unreal Engine helps everyone on your team understand the final vision from the start. That's because using a real-time game engine does more than other 3D animation software. It helps directors, set designers, actors, and others understand the real-world physics of a scene. Teams can create high-quality visuals. And with the right pipeline, they can keep up with changes, avoiding the bottlenecks of long reviews and the risk of a reshoot. Now everyone can make quick decisions and adjust digital assets in real time.

Let’s say your team is working on creating a background that will be displayed on an LED wall. Before anyone steps on set, the virtual art team can build out the trees, mountains, and other components. These assets can be used throughout the film and iterated on to meet specifications. VFX studios don't need to come in after the fact to match graphics with camera 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.

Foundation for Digital Asset Management

One of the most important technologies to make Unreal virtual production a reality is a high-performing system that can manage and store the large files and massive amount of iterations. This technology to needs to also connect people in real-time so teams can take advantage of Unreal Engine benefits.

For example, a cinematographer needs to see the virtual set in order to match the lighting on screen. Or you have a character with different outfits and 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? What 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. It's the backbone for digital asset management. The right version control system can connect team members, delivering files and feedback quickly. It can centralize digital assets, ensuring teams can always find what they need. No more searching through Google drives and DropBox. When you combine version control with a real-time engine, you can build something unreal.


How Does Haz Film Manage Assets? 

"For a small studio that has multiple projects at various stages of production happening simultaneously in Unreal Engine, Perforce is a huge weight off my shoulders.” — HaZ Dulull, Director/Producer HaZFilm


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 virtual production 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 Unreal interface, artists can create more detailed visuals. They can react to scene and light changes quickly. For example, they 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.

How to Use 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 Unreal, you need to use the right tools to back it up. Version control 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.

Perforce 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. You can see how seamlessly it works in the newly released UE5 preview.


Why Helix Core For Virtual Production with Unreal Engine

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. 

Helix Core Unites Virtual Production 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. You can make real time edits without the WAN wait.

And Helix Core integrates with more than just Unreal. It works with the most popular game enginesincluding:

And it can easily be deployed in the cloud and offers integrations with the tools digital creators are already using — 3ds Max, Maya, and more.

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.