When The Inquirer starts talking about using game engines to replace movie post production in the future the first thing that might spring to your mind could be a trilogy of movies already years old. WETA used Massive to render the huge battle scenes in Lord of the Rings, a rendering engine which has already been used in several games including the recent Total War games. That example approaches the issue from the opposite direction, instead of an improved CryEngine being used in a movie it is rendering software intended for TV and movies being used in a game.
It highlights the misunderstanding movie executives have about real time rendering. At heart there is no difference between a scene rendered in a game as opposed to one rendered in a movie, post-production or real time. Post production would not be necessary or could at least be significantly reduced if you have the hardware to render your CGI in real time. The software its self is more or less ready but at the moment there is not much money to be made by improving the Unreal Engine to the point where it is photo-realistic since the hardware requirements to run it would be orders of magnitude higher than what is currently available on the retail market.
This will change and it seems that those with jobs in post production for movies had better start specializing in real effects or think about branching into another field. It is likely to cause a great hue and cry from the movie industry in the coming years as they attempt to convince the public that video games are not art in the same way as movies are art even though they are made with the exact same tools. Image the Steam Big Picture mode of the future!
"Last year, when we reported that LucasFilm, the California production company responsible for the Star Wars franchise, proclaimed that video game engines would be responsible for the decline of the movie post-production process in the next 10 years, our readers scoffed."
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Really game engines, with
Really game engines, with their quick and dirty, for the sake of real time frame rates, algorithms, and no ray tracing used for gaming, and no fancy sub surface scattering, and other bells and whistles that are all turned on for motion picture graphics, and take hours to render one frame of a movie! Really Gaming engines, and the crappy non professional, non certified drivers meant for gaming at 30+ FPS, on a home gaming rig.
It would take an exaflop computer and then some, to do all the ray tracing for a feature film if they wanted real time rendering, and that power bill would take a big bite out of the film’s budget. It’s still more affordable to break up the rendering process and do individual characters on separate runs, for the main characters and close up scenes, and take up 3, or 4, hours of rendering per character, per frame. Most movies scenes are rendered in parts, backgrounds in one or more runs, the pyrotechnics in a run, along with the individual animated characters close in/high detail scenes(on a per character basis), and then all the runs are composited together in the actual post production animation process. And the individual runs are usually split into Shadow, AO, Color, Alpha, etc. channels for proper mixing/compositing of the many layers that come from each scene element. No not a gaming engine, there are very complex custom packages that are used, and sometimes created for individual movies, to get the right effects, the gaming engines are not up to the task, and even some of the professional packages like Maya, are replaced with custom software to get the job done right. Gaming engines are made for a specific task, and most of the graphics that are utilized on games are first produced on the professional packages, and the characters are simplified for speed of rendering and loaded into the gaming engines and rendered by the gaming engine’s limited software where quality gives way to the need for frames per second. Not so for movies! Whoever proclaimed “that video game engines would be responsible for the decline of the movie post-production process in the next 10 years” is smoking something, The post production process may be becoming more automated, but that is more because of the software that the motion picture industry is funding, but not the gaming engine makers, its more than likely that the gaming engine makers are benefiting form the software libraries developed for the motion picture industry, not the other way around.
Tools don’t determine if
Tools don’t determine if something is art of not. Doing a math exercise using a pencil that can also be used for drawing doesn’t make the math exercise art.
I’m not saying that games can’t be art, but this article certainly doesn’t contain any convincing argument about this.
Games are absolutely art;
Games are absolutely art; some good, some bad. I’m in the film CG / animation business, and we’ve explored game engines as rendering engines many times. It seems like every 3 or 4 years we try again, like it’s an original idea, but the up front cost is very high, and production time is slow. In the end, you just can’t get the quality in the short times needed. Like the other reader said, no raytracing means no reflections, no atmosphere, no refractions, no (good) SSS, no caustics, etc, so rather than spend a few days making assets and click render, you spend weeks and months faking everything. It just isn’t as easy as all the tech demos make it look. There is a reason AAA games are over $100 mil in production costs.
We have pursued using game engines in previs, and you do see that making headway. Some render engines are also moving to the GPU. This is great in low memory rendering uses, like car commercials. On the production I’m on, we regularly use 24-36 GB of ram at render time, and with the push to 4k, I imagine we’ll be needing 4x that. Once we can cram all those textures on a GPU, this will be less an issue, but I don’t see any Quadros with 64 – 128GB ram coming out anytime soon.
Call me a downer, but I just don’t see an engine designed around game play running a blockbuster film in the next 10 years.
Total War series uses its own
Total War series uses its own technology built in-house, could you please add a reference where you read that Massive technology is being used by Total War?
dangit, thought that I had
dangit, thought that I had saved that bookmark, I can't find the PBS special that used the Total War Engine which talked about their link to Massive
They used it for cinematics, if I have more time someday I will keep Googling, could have sworn I posted something on it years back.