Born to run at 60 fps: how real-time technology drove Bruce Springsteen across the desert
The studio is headquartered in Hollywood, with offices in New York and Vancouver. It offers a holistic array of visual effects services including CG, animation, 3D stereoscopic work, editorial, color, and finishing. The breadth of work the studio undertakes requires the team to constantly push the boundaries of what’s possible with its pipeline. “That’s part of how we ended up using Unreal Engine,” says Wilson. “It has such a wide toolset for doing a lot of different kinds of things.”
On a recent lyric video for Bruce Springsteen’s Hello Sunshine, the team harnessed the power of the UE4 toolset to impress their client with the high level of realism they were able to achieve.
Lyric videos are music videos that focus on showing the lyrics to a song as it’s played. They’re an increasingly popular way for labels to get more content out there for artists. With origins that can be traced back to the early days of YouTube, the first lyric videos were simply a song playing to the backdrop of an album cover overlaid with song's words. They’ve since evolved from DIY videos put together by fans to slicker offerings created by record labels, with a corresponding improvement in production value.
Set on a highway in a dreamy, arid landscape, the lyric video for Bruce Sprintsteen’s Hello Sunshine has the look and feel of a production shot in the real world using real cameras. “The demand from the client was that they wanted surreal driving footage in the desert and they didn’t want to use stock; they wanted it to be very stylized,” says Grant Miller, Partner and VFX Supervisor at Ingenuity.
The team knew it would be up against both time and budget. Rather than building a full CG environment, it decided to use the Unreal Engine Marketplace and asset library. “[This allowed us to] craft something like that for a fraction of the cost,” says Alex Popkin, Director of Design and Animation. “It looks so good and gives you so many options, it’s jaw dropping."
Ingenuity put together a pitch and sent across some renders in Unreal. It found the client was concerned stock imagery was still being used. “We had to show them, here’s the scene from a wide view, it’s actually just a little desert scene that we’ve put together and the car just drives down an infinite loop of street,” says Miller.
“There’ll be shots in there that you’ll think were shot with a real camera, in a real car, that we didn't have to use any render power for, that we were able to operate with a two-man team. Being able to have done this project in two weeks is so exciting,” adds Popkin.
Miller is a big advocate of real-time technology and predicts it will have a transformational effect on the VFX industry—not least for artists’ job satisfaction. “You can have a traditional 3D artist hop into Unreal, and within half a day be producing gorgeous images with such a smile on their face, because they’re rendering at 60 fps,” he says.
“I think the impact of Unreal and of real-time in general on the industry is going to massive—as big a change as when we started to do CG in the first place,” continues Miller. “So our work will move from post to pre. It gives you that ability to drive and steer the process, try things out, experiment, and work at a pace that’s unheard of working in a traditional VFX pipeline.”
There are many assets available in the Unreal Engine Marketplace, some of which can be used for free. Download Unreal Engine and start experimenting with them today!