Game developers have been crafting absorbing interactive entertainment in real-time engines like Unreal Engine for decades. Today, real-time technology is rapidly establishing itself across a broad spectrum of industries, and those using Unreal Engine include architects, automotive designers, cinematographers, simulation experts, and—of course—game developers, as well as many other professionals.
To celebrate creators across all industries, we commissioned artist and director FILFURY and his team at The Mill to make a short brand film using Unreal Engine. The result was Unreal for All Creators.
In this interview, we speak to FILFURY about his experience on the project as he takes us behind the scenes.
“What was refreshing with the brief from Epic was that it was so open, and they trusted me with the vision to kind of have some fun, bring it to life and really push the possibilities of what could be done in Unreal,” he says.
“I've got an amazing team at The Mill and we pull off all these big visual effects commercials and films that we make together.”
FILFURY’s team was joined by members of the Epic Games Innovation Lab. Unreal Engine Technical Artist Saga Alayyoubi echoes FILFURY’s viewpoint.
“Fil’s original brief was incredibly ambitious,” he says. “And we didn't really let anything hinder the creative vision.”
Working on the project in a real-time environment was a refreshing change for those members of the team who were more accustomed to using traditional VFX tools.
“The interesting thing about this project is it gives a lot of freedom and flexibility to the artists working on it to craft their shots and not have to rely so much on standard VFX workflows where everything is much more siloed,” says Saga.
FILFURY enjoyed how quickly he was able to achieve imagery that was almost final. “I'm usually getting grayscale renders, [...] first renders without any comp, without any love and magic and atmosphere. Everything happens in the 11th hour,” he says. “With this project, that just didn't really happen. Very quickly, we saw good-looking things.”
The speed with which FILFURY was able to see near-final-quality renders enabled him to be even more creative, giving him the freedom to iterate on the story during production.
“I saw the robot looking amazing really quickly and that instantly made me go off on a tangent of all these different color skins to him,” he says. “If that process had taken much longer, that idea may not have even happened because I'd still be waiting to just see the base metal skin on him.
“It made me come up with ideas on top of my ideas because I knew we had the luxury of time, because we already had something good.”
FILFURY was also pleasantly surprised at the quality of the effects he was able to achieve in Unreal Engine. In one scene, the robot breaks up into colored balls, which eventually get finer and finer until they become a particle mist that swirls around the columns in the museum. Originally, FILFURY had presumed this effect would have to be created in an offline content creation tool, but after experimenting in Unreal Engine, he found he was able to get the look he wanted using the native toolset.
The experience has left him keen to try using real-time tools on more projects. “It was just a first for me—I was relying on what I felt comfortable in the past doing,” he says. “So that's exciting for me. There is no limitation. I’ve dipped my toe in the water working in this new way. I want to do it again. Moving forward, the kind of potential of building the world before we do the shoot, to me just feels like a better use of the time.
“It was really fun being an artist using the engine,” he concludes. “I think that's the thing, because now this world exists digitally for us to explore.”
Channel your creativity with Unreal Engine!
Want to get a deeper insight into how these effects were created and start creating your own? Sign up for the Creating Visual Effects With Unreal Engine webinar on Wednesday, September 23, and download Unreal Engine for free today.
On Tuesday, July 14, Unreal Fest Online is a free one-day virtual event that brings together Unreal Fest and Unreal Academy to offer an exciting and informative program of sessions that’s open to everyone.