Using VR to create sustainable global events

Using VR to create sustainable global events

This year, 2019, the 4th consecutive Sustainable Production Forum took place in Canada with 5 top studios participating including Fox, Warner, NBC, Disney and Sony. But as of today, the irony of this event is that a ‘global forum on sustainability’ still requires attendees to jump on planes and travel from all over the world to attend, still using copious amounts of effort, plastics, electricity, fuel, all of which is just the same as flying production crews around the world when making films.

Bring your ideas to the people, not people to ideas.

Let’s discuss making global events and productions lower impact.

I am sure the events organisers will scream about the events carbon offset strategy and it’s program of planting trees, but this is one of the biggest problems of the sustainability argument, carbon offsets are all well and good, but carbon offsetting is always used as an argument and reaction to what are unsustainable behaviour. We need to change behaviour and the Sustainable Production Forum is a big part of doing this and change takes time, ideas need to be shared face to face, adopted and implemented. But moving forward we see a much brighter future and answer for bringing humans together.

Providing the infrastructure for sustainable industries.

Mike Harris is the founder of SiFi Networks, North America’s leading privately owned open access telecoms company that funds, builds and operates fiber networks upon which service providers can deliver low-latency connectivity to millions of homes. As the company that lays the cables, Harris said “Building smart city infrastructures we are installing the technologies that enable events organisers to connect people and spaces and reduce the need for travel, creating smart-city connectivity, faster connectivity ultimately brings people and things closer together via remote means”.

How the events and production industry can become more sustainable.

Of course humans need to travel, eat meat, use plastics, power their cars electric or not, but as ever with ecology it is a matter of balance en mass. People will always want to meet face to face, share ideas in person, but the technology is here to couple this with virtual production. Spatial computing, fibre connectivity and the ability to build virtual social environments is just not being used to their full potential and more needs to be done to champion technologies as a powerful contributor to reaching sustainability.

These industries will be the first to adopt virtual production.

Surly the first early adopters of these new technologies should be the events, entertainment and production industries all of which can reduce the need to transport physical atoms in exchange for transporting bits.

Asa Bailey Director and Director of Virtual Productiuon

Asa Bailey Director of Virtual Production on set of sustainable production Madrid.

But not everyone has a VR headset.

Agreed, the way we engage with virtual space today is still a stumbling block. But the benefit of the newly converged virtual production space is that everyone has a screen and therefore a way to engage in virtual spaces.

Today you don’t need a HMD (head mounted display) to see whats going on in virtual space, you just need your phone, a TV, a screen. Mixed media capture, virtual cameras and low-latency connectivity now enable us to create in virtual space and provide real-time windows using 2D screens, of which there are billions already in peoples hands.

Turning 2D screens into windows to the virtual world.

People who attend these virtual social events can be ‘all in’ they will create virtual avatars, using volumetric capture, or they may choose to be dragons, unicorns or pink haired VR creations, but in the beginning most people will attend these events viewing through a screen.

Event organisers can bring people together in local groups and share the global experience on a big screen. Earlier this year games developer Epic Games held a world wide event for the computer game Fortnight that did exactly this, millions of players joined from home online and locally at the event. It’s time the sustainability industry really looked at how they can take ideas to the people and not bring the people to the ideas.

All in is better and will drive technology adoption

The benefits of bing ‘all in’ will be apparent and attendees watching the action will be enticed to join in on the action. But to hang out after the talks you’ll want to be more physically represented in virtual space, but here’s the rub, this is how you introduce more people and draw them in to virtual worlds. Next year we’d love to see something so important as the Sustainable Production Forum look at how it can also take place in duo space, both in the real and digital world. Transformation takes time. To influence change and facilitate the exchange of ideas people still need to come together, but surely if you are an event focussed on promoting sustainability, then you should be doing everything possible to adopt ideas and technologies that support your goals.

Epic merges Unreal Studio and Unreal Engine in 4.24

Epic merges Unreal Studio and Unreal Engine in 4.24

With the release of Unreal Engine 4.24 preview Epic Games confirm some of many changes to be coming to the new version of the engine. One of these changes is the merging of Unreal Studio and Unreal Engine, Unreal Studio will be retiring after the release of 4.24. Users will still be able to use later versions of Unreal studio but won’t receive any further updates.

Unreal Studio

Unreal Studio was created to aid users in the industries of architecture, manufacturing, and product design. A huge feature of Unreal Studio which will become standard in Unreal 4.24 is the Datasmith toolkit. This will allow the aggregation and optimisation of 3ds Max, Revit, SketchUp Pro, Cinema 4D and CAD data within the engine.

The new integration of both engines will also enable all users to have more mesh editing features within the engine. This mesh editing will include static mesh editing, basic UV projections, jacketing and defeaturing optimisation tools, and a Variant Manager. This provides a faster and more optimised workflow for unreal users who were previously limited in mesh editing ability.

Twinmotion

Twin motion the Unreal Engine powered fast and easy real-time visualisation software for architecture, construction, urban planning, and landscaping has received an extension of its free trail. Epic had previously announced its free download until November 2019 but announced the extension to span to the first quarter of 2020. Once the software is downloaded the software will remain free indefinitely. Epic claims the coming versions will offer greater photorealism, improved assets, tools to facilitate collaborative workflows.

See Unreal Engine for updates and news on Unreal Engine 4.24

Quixel is now Free for Unreal Engine Users

Quixel is now Free for Unreal Engine Users

Congratulations to our Partners at Quixel as Epic games welcomes them into the family.

What is Quixel?

Quixel is the leading company for photogrammetry assets and currently holds the largest library of 2D and 3D assets. Over the past decade Quixel has been dedicated to capturing the world and bringing it right to your finger tips through their Megascans and Bridge software. Quixels photorealistic work can be seen on the virtual sets of blockbusters like The Jungle BookBlack Panther and The Lion King. Quixel also offers a material and texture editing app called Mixer which enables artists with fully customisable materials and textures.

As part of the Epic Games family, Quixel is now providing all Unreal Engine users access to the Megascan library for free. Quixel released 10 high-resolution asset packs on the Unreal Engine market place, these packs include the collection assets from the popular rebirth cinematic. Unreal and Quixel plan to release even more assets with the Unreal Engine 4.24 update. 

“Building photorealistic 3D content is an expensive endeavor in game development and film production. By coming together with Quixel to make Megascans free for all use in Unreal Engine, this level of artistry is now available to everyone from triple-A studios to indies,” said Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney.

It’s not only Unreal users that benefit from this either, Quixel also slashed Megascan prices for all users regardless of their preferred engine. These price slashes are all possible due to Epics generous backing, allowing artist to download double the content than before. 

Whats Next?

During 2020 Quixel and Epic hope to make Bridge and Mixer free for all. Both the softwares are set to receive major updates. Bridge is going to become a more visual and enjoyable process with the addition of smart filters and visual searches. Bridge will also use AI to find the perfect assets for your project, Bridge will have the ability to analyse an image (real or concept) and provide you with relevant assets.

Mixer will also be updated to provide 3D Painting, Real-time 3D Curvature and Smart Materials as heavily requested. 3D Blur, Grouping, Map-specific Blending, Advanced AO Mixing, Box Projection, Material ID Masking, 3D Position Gradients and 3D Normals will also come to the texturing app. Quixel and Epic push Mixer into becoming a teetering and material app which allows the creation of Smart Materials, 3D paint meshes, and create tile-able surfaces all in one place.

OTOY and Epic Games Realease OctaneRender for Unreal Engine

OTOY and Epic Games Realease OctaneRender for Unreal Engine

OTOY and Epic Games announced the release of OctaneRender for Unreal Engine at Siggraph this week and how exactly the two major 3D pipelines will work together. This collaboration will give artists the tools to create even greater cinematic experiences, from real-time previz to archviz.

OctaneRender For Unreal will allow artists to import, export and mix ORBX interchange assets from 2 dozen Octane DCC integrations. Octanes Materials and Node Graphs will be 100% accessible though Unreals Node Editor. This allows the ability of cinematic renders from within a real-time engine, allowing artists to work in real-time with no decrease in quality.

The new Plugin will compliment Unreals ray-tracing features and provide a even glossier finish. Octane will also provide a final frame rendering natively within Unreal Engine for the first time.

See the source image

Octane for Unreal Engine features:

  • OctaneRender fully integrated into Unreal Engine 4’s node editor with intuitive scene navigation and easily accessible render passes within UE4

  • The automatic and fast conversion on Unreal Scenes and materials into Octane.

  • full integration of OctaneRender 2019 features including: Layered Materials, OSL Vector Displacement, OSL Volume Shaders, Universal Camera with OSL Distortion Maps, all-new Light and Geometric Primitives, Fast Spectral Random Walk Subsurface Scattering

  • AI Light, AI Scene, AI Spectral and Volumetric Denoising, and Out-of-Core Geometry, UDIM Support and Light Linking for production-ready final rendering

  • Octane Vectron and Spectron – fully procedural node-based Volumetric Geometry and Lighting for infinite detail and granular lighting control

  • The OTOY ORBX format will support over 20 of the industry leading 3D tools including – Cinema4D, Autodesk Maya, and 3ds Max. this allows artists to drag and drop scenes from these tools straight into Unreal Engine.

This Support between Octane and Unreal Engine is a massive milestone for Unreal Engine. To have full suppor for a leading render engine like OctaneRender is a clear sign of how the 3D industry is turning to totally real-time pipelines.

Unreal Engine 4.21 Now Supports DeckLink

Unreal Engine 4.21 Now Supports DeckLink

Virtual Production Technology News

We’ve been using DeckLink I/O video cards in our virtual production server builds, now Epic Games and Black Magic just announced that the latest version of Unreal Engine 4.21 will natively support these Black Magic video in and out cards.

Blackmagic 8K Capture and Playback Cards.

Unreal Engine 4.21 supports Blackmagic 8K Capture and Playback Cards.

DeckLink SDK binaries and source code from Epic will also now be available free to download on the company’s Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4.21 now supports DeckLink 8K Pro, DeckLink Duo 2 and DeckLink 4K Extreme 12G capture and playback cards, announced Blackmagic Design.

Unreal Engine is the most used real time engine providing the highest quality solution for creating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, as well as virtual sets for film and television. UE is a complete suite of creation tools designed to meet the most ambitious artistic visions while being flexible enough to ensure success for individual developers or the largest creative teams.

Unreal Engine, which added support for up to 1080p60, HDMI and SDI capture and playback in version 4.20, now includes a number of new features in 4.21, to meet its growing adoption in live broadcast and virtual production workflows. A key part of these new features is the support of Blackmagic Design DeckLink products and SDK.