EPIC’S UNREAL ENGINE

How Epic’s Unreal Engine Can Help Filmmakers

Unreal Engine (UE) is a FREE to download game engine developed by Epic Games. There has been considerable buzz about UE lately, not solely because of its noteworthy use in Fortnite, but also because, at the time of this writing, Epic Games is currently in a dispute with Apple that spurred a tongue-in-cheek video spoof of Apple’s “1984” commercial. Regardless, why write about a game engine on a filmmaking blog? Because content generators are now embracing UE for more than just creating games. Filmmakers have begun to adapt it for use in film, video, and commercial projects.

As a relatively new technology, the Unreal Engine is still in the “Wild West” phase of development and application by video pros. The full scope of its uses are as yet unrealized but filmmakers continue to experiment with it in increasingly innovative ways. UE was coded and developed in a way that has made it easily expandable and adaptable to advancements in hardware and software.

WHAT KIND OF CREATORS CAN BENEFIT FROM UE?

Perhaps you’re thinking, “this is all well and good, but what if I don’t have a background in VFX?” The good is that Unreal Engine is far more accessible to all types of filmmakers than previously available iterations of VFX tools. Sure, it’s easier for those who do have animation and VFX and animation experience, but the simple fact is: Unreal Engine can be learned by anyone.

Here are a few ways you can integrate Unreal Engine into your filmmaking pipeline:

  • Storyboards & Pre-vis – Mapping out the project is a vital step in any development process and storyboards have been the traditional means of visually doing so visually. UE markedly improves this method because not only does it allow you to easily create the storyboards, but also to then animate them, allowing you to refine angles and hone camera moves prior to production.
  • Virtual Production – The core concept of VP is bringing the immediacy and interactive nature of the real world into CG. Imagine being able to create and modify photo-realistic sets, costumes and props instantly using CG, and then apply these virtual backgrounds live using LED projection. An ever-widening array of filmmakers are looking at this technique as an alternative to greenscreen. This allows key creative stakeholders to iterate quickly and make informed, timely decisions.
  • Motion Capture – If you currently enjoy the use of Motion Capture as one of your creative tools, you should consider the benefits of incorporating UE into your pipeline. The Super Alloy Interactive team has found innovative and impressive ways to integrate UE with Mocap. Check out their work here.

GETTING STARTED WITH UE4

As in many things, when using UE, the first step is usually the hardest. Many find VFX innovations too intimidating to even explore the potential benefits, but fear not, with UE the most difficult step will be clicking this link: Download Unreal here.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s time to get acquainted with this incredible tool. In the interests of making their engine accessible to the widest possible group of users, Epic Games has covered all the basics for learning UE at Unreal Engine’s Online Learning Center.

To see some of the incredible results filmmakers are already achieving using Unreal Engine 4 and for a longer list of available resources to help you get started, check out the full post about UE4 over at Sam-Claitor.com.

Fable House is a video production company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that specializes in production for film, video, commercials, and TV. Our team are experts in physical production, post-production, and VFX. We produce content for major brands, TV networks like Syfy and Lifetime, and provide production services to Louisiana’s never-say-die indie filmmakers.

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