August 10, 2017

Epic and Unreal at SIGGRAPH 2017

By Barbara Marshall

SIGGRAPH 2017 attendance was up on previous years and there was a renewed sense of optimism at the show, fueled by excitement around real-time production, advancements in virtual, augmented and mixed reality, as well as the impact of the cloud, AI and machine learning on the production pipeline.


SIGGRAPH 2017 Real-Time Live! Best Real-Time Graphics and Interactivity Award winner, "The Human Race" (The Mill & Epic Games). Photo by John Fujii © 2017 ACM SIGGRAPH #SIGGRAPH2017

Epic was at the center of these SIGGRAPH trends, generating buzz around its first-ever Unreal Engine SIGGRAPH User Group and a range of demos and presentations. One theme in particular - real-time production - was a common thread across our presentations:

  • The Human Race’, co-produced with Chevrolet and The Mill, received the “Best Real-Time Graphics and Interactivity” award at Real-Time Live! - the third win in a row for Epic and Unreal Engine.
  • Our cinematic trailer ‘Fortnite: A Hard Day’s Nite’ was featured, along with ‘The Human Race’, at the Computer Animation Festival. This was the first year the festival included short films rendered in real-time - and both were Unreal projects.
  • Studio Daily’s Bryan Frazer featured Unreal Engine and real-time production in ‘Five SIGGRAPH Trends Changing the Way We Make Media’.


The Orpheum Theater, Los Angeles

The Unreal Engine User Group on Monday night was a jam-packed, 100-minute showcase, featuring 20 presenters across multiple industries - film and animation, TV, automotive, architectural and design visualization. For those who missed it - or would like to watch again - here’s the recording.

"One technology receiving a great deal of attention at Siggraph this year was the game engine. Unreal Engine from Epic Games showed off new uses in architecture, product design, and product marketing... Petit noted how game engine technology is built for storytelling, and storytelling is moving to VR." – Randall Newton, Graphic Speak

We’d like to thank the guest presenters and contributors who made our first-ever SIGGRAPH User Group a success: aXYZ AnimaChaos Group V-RayDigital DimensionEsri CityEngineHarley-Davidson MotorcyclesHOKLissoni AssociatiMike SeymourTwinmotionZoox.


Top image: Scene imported via Datasmith into Unreal Engine and baked, no further refinement. Bottom image: Corona rendering from 3ds Max. Images courtesy of A-VR.

Datasmith, our workflow toolkit, debuted at the user group - to a round of applause - confirming our belief that many of you will welcome help getting 3ds Max and CAD data into Unreal. For more information and to register your interest in joining the beta program, head to

Augmented, virtual and mixed reality was another hot topic at SIGGRAPH - with Unreal driving many of the experiences generating the most interest. We hosted the VR Film JamGhost Paint and Michelangelo’s David - and we were a key partner in the Meet Mike virtual human research project.


The Ghost Paint VR graffiti wall in action at SIGGRAPH

Special thanks to our friends at Valve for supporting the Ghost Paint VR graffiti wall, Meet Mike and Michelangelo’s David, all of which ran on HTC Vive at the show. Huge thanks as well to NVIDIA for providing the graphics horsepower that ran all of our experiences at SIGGRAPH. From GTX 1080 to Quadro P6000, the performance of NVIDIA GPUs was outstanding all around.


Virtual Mike Seymour: Rendered at 30fps above, and at 90fps in stereo at Siggraph

“Unreal Engine 4 is a beautiful reminder that technology and art can merge in fantastic ways. The graphics for ‘Kingdom Hearts III’ are some of the best we’ve seen, and the trailer for ‘Fortnite’ is as impressive as the game itself. If Epic Games has its way you’ll be seeing a lot more real-time production in animation, video-games, and beyond.” – Tristan Greene, The Next Web

Convergence has been widely discussed for decades - and at SIGGRAPH 2017, it was clear that it is now upon us - with game engine technology firmly at the heart of computer graphics and interactive techniques.