July 12, 2018

Drive Studio uses Unreal to score big for FOX Sports’ 2018 FIFA World Cup broadcast

By Andy Blondin

If you’ve been tuning in to the 2018 FIFA World Cup on FOX Sports, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the network’s stunning on-air graphics package featuring Moscow’s iconic Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral. Southern California-based Drive Studio leveraged Unreal Engine to design the environment, interstitials, and information graphics, relying on Unreal’s speed and flexibility to test different camera moves and perfect the visual story in real time.

“The real-time nature of Unreal Engine is what’s so powerful – there are so many versions and camera moves in this Red Square environment, and if we had to do everything in a traditional 3D program it would take 3-4 hours to render each sequence,” explained Nick DiNapoli, founder and creative director at Drive Studio. “With Unreal we’re able to get in there with a camera, position it a few different ways, and create our visual story and have it play back in real time to keep making refinements without losing our creativity. This way of working opens up new opportunities to rethink problems – we can fly anywhere within Red Square virtually and have the freedom of directors designing a scene.” Led by FOX Sports Gary Hartley (EVP of Graphics) and Mike Dolan (SVP of Design), Drive Studio began by designing the environment and information graphics for Unreal, and built the base Red Square model in Cinema 4D before exporting it to Unreal. The elements were then handed off to FOX, where Motion Graphics Artists Craig Chupinsky, James Reed, and John Martin optimized the models and textures and created various sky, weather, and lighting options to match whatever conditions might arise throughout the 30-day broadcast window. Movies were exported from Unreal and foreground information graphics were added using VIZRT, which enabled the FOX team to make live updates from the control room.

“We think that Unreal Engine has a bright future in live event broadcast graphics,” concluded Marco Bacich, Founder and Technical Director, Drive Studio. “We’re able to make much more informed design decisions on things like textures, logo transitions – the sky’s the limit.”

Based on the success of their early work in Unreal Engine, the Drive Studio team is designing their new San Diego office within Unreal, viewing the 3D builds in a VR headset to aid in design decisions about the space as though they were actually walking through it.

Be sure to check out these awesome Unreal Engine renders of the new Drive Studio office!