Using Unreal Engine for Pre Visualisation


What is PreViz?

Pre visualisation as the term implies, is the visualisation of complex scenes in movies before the filming process is initiated. It allows a production team to lay out their shot scenes consisting of complicated camera movement, so they can visualise how they are able to capture it before having to physically do it with an actual camera. The benefits of previz is that it allows directors, cinematographers or even VFX artists to experiment with lighting, camera placement and movement but also stage directing and editing without having to waste time or affect any production costs.

Why do actors need it to help their performance?

Previz enhances the communication between directors and artists which leads to better and more accurate results in production. Directors now, with less effort, can get their point across to the rest of the team whilst allowing everyone to be on the same page. With the use of advanced technology such as virtual camera systems, actors can be recorded and live streamed in real-time allowing directors to better visualise the performance and have an accurate feel of the end result.
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What are the traditional methods?

The term “storyboarding” had been introduced by Disney Studios in the later 1920’s, where artists and producers gathered together to visualise their film with paper drawings. Over the years, studios have been adapting to more complex 3D software such as Maya for environment creation and animation keyframing, and MotionBuilder for motion capture animations that allow realistic and streamlined movement. Although this traditional method is still currently being used throughout many production companies, it has been integrated with next generation technology that has allowed a rapid increase in quality of production.

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What is Unreal Engine doing to change that?

Professionals in this sector have been changing the technology being used to produce the desired outcome but the backbone of production concepts remains the same since the beginning. From 2D imaging to 3D modelling software and now the powerful use of game engines. In order to produce a high quality films nowadays, large amounts of data and complex VFX are included which require a substantial amount of processing. Game engines such as Unreal Engine have been introduced in this scenario, where they are capable of handling such computational costs with a more intuitive manner.

Unreal supports cinematic camera capture by using a built in sequencer, rapid shot takes in maximum quality and the ability to adjust the camera lense to match the physical camera being used. It allows animators to produce armies of thousands of soldiers based on the movement of 50 actors.This allows variety of motion throughout the scene by the ability of withstanding such large amounts of data. Unreal also supports GPS location based weather tracking that allows the scene’s ambience to match the day and time of a physical location. This has a great effect if a scene captured in a physical location was to be combined with a virtual scene containing VFX. Finally, Unreal’s render quality has pushed the boundaries of film production and is becoming relatively hard to be matched by traditional methods.

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