September 24, 2018

Award-winning “ICI Laflaque” gets a fresh new look with Unreal Engine

By David Hurtubise

For animated Quebecois TV series ICI Laflaque, producing a 30-minute episode every seven days has always required a balance of speed and quality. For such a tight turnaround time, real-time rendering was a must from the start, but the production team always had their eye on improving quality. 

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This is why the production studio for ICI Laflaque, Vox Populi Productions, decided to replace their existing real-time solution with Unreal Engine for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. The production team will soon be sharing the details of this switch in an Epic Games white paper.

ICI Laflaque is an award-winning French-language political satire show that features a large cast of 3D animated characters, both fictional and reality-based. Each episode consists of several short sketches revolving around politicians and public personalities, including commentary and interviews by fictional news anchor Gérard D Laflaque. 

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Since the show’s inception 15 years ago, Vox Populi Productions has been using OpenGL output from MotionBuilder as a real-time solution. For the new season starting this month, they’ve switched to Unreal Engine primarily to get a boost in output quality. 

‘’Unreal Engine provides a more realistic and stunning look to the show while saving us from the lengthy rendering times of traditional offline render solutions,” says François Bissonnette, Unreal Engine Technical Director at Vox Populi Productions. “Unreal also allows us to make use of Blueprints, providing endless control over our work and tackling pipeline challenges.”

You can get a taste of the show’s new look, straight out of Unreal Engine, in the latest promotional video on the ICI Laflaque Facebook page.

In addition to a big bump in visual quality, the production team also finds that Unreal Engine provides them with tools to save time in their pipeline.

“Unreal finally helps us to work in parallel on modeling, animation, lighting and visual effects all at the same time, saving us precious time,’’ says Bissonnette.
  
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Laflaque’s transition to an Unreal Engine pipeline will soon be the subject of a detailed white paper by Epic Games. You’ll find out how they made the switch to Unreal Engine without disrupting production, and learn about the workflow and settings they used to maximize visual quality. Stay tuned for more details!

You can save time in your own pipeline, too. Try out Unreal Engine and see! You can also check out Unreal Studio, a suite of tools for importing 3ds Max and CAD models to Unreal Engine.