Recently, Epic Games and filmmakers’ collective Bullitt assembled a team to test out the latest in-camera VFX toolset in Unreal Engine. A short and BTS show what is possible to achieve.
Virtual Production is here to stay, and the extensive suite of virtual production tools available in Unreal Engine 4.27 contribute to make that possible. We have seen it for a while now, and the next version of the software, Unreal Engine 5, promises even more, but for now, paving the way for the Unreal Engine 4.27 release, Epic Games decided to ask filmmakers to take the tools for a spin, and show what is possible to achieve with them.
Epic Games teamed up with filmmakers’ collective Bullitt and assembled a team to test out the latest in-camera VFX toolset, part of the extensive suite of virtual production tools in the upcoming Unreal Engine 4.27 release. The goal was simple: to put each of the new tools through their paces, in a “real world” situation. To that end they created a short test piece to mimic a production workflow. The three-minute production test they created was shot on an LED stage over just four days.
Shot entirely on NantStudios’ LED stage in Los Angeles, the production test capitalized on new workflows that enable dynamic lighting and background changes on set with minimal downtime, together with multi-camera and traveling vehicle shoots. It also harnessed the power of twin NVIDIA Quadro A6000 GPUs. The team was able to produce final pixels in just four days—a demonstration of the efficiency and creative freedom the toolset offers.
An evolutionary leap forward
The team also took advantage of new Level Snapshots that enable directors to easily match previous takes when returning to an earlier set or lighting configuration; sophisticated remote control UI building tools that offer creatives direct control of the Unreal Engine-powered elements of the shoot from the convenience of a tablet or laptop; and OpenColorIO color management that ensures artists creating Unreal Engine assets can see what the final captured output will look like.
Unreal Engine 4.27 is currently available in Preview. The exciting new workflows and tools it offers are influenced by input from leading filmmakers who are pushing the limits of virtual production today. As the Bullitt team discovered, the toolset represents an evolutionary leap forward in quality, efficiency, and ease of use—delivering whole new levels of creative freedom.
Epic Games says the company “is excited to be working with industry trailblazers to advance the art and science of filmmaking” and adds “we’d love to share our progress as it happens” inviting those interested to sign up on its website to “be the first to know about the latest developments regarding virtual production and in-camera VFX.”
Efficiency and creative freedom
“Over the coming weeks – Epic Games continues – we will explore these techniques and tools in detail. We’ll also talk to the team who tested them out and get their take on how these advancements in on-set workflows are transforming the future of filmmaking.” The first video in the series, detailing how these new processes impact ever step of the production process, is now available. In it the filmmakers talk about the huge benefits to efficiency and creative freedom they witnessed with this new way of filmmaking. Visit the Unreal Engine blog for more information about this project.
A suggestion: start by watching the short film created by the team and only then check the behind-the-scenes video, which reveals the “magic” behind the entire process to create a short test piece to mimic a production workflow. It is a fantastic example of what is possible now and explains why after having tried it filmmakers do not want to work any other way. Two more notes: some of the interviews were conducted using the same scenery used for the short film, and, for those who want to try their hand at using the tools, the production test will soon be available as a sample project.