It’s Really Unreal!

Greetings and best wishes to all in 2023!

In a previous post, I showed off my new computer system designed for using Epic Games’  Unreal Engine (UE) for video rendering.

Rendering has been the bottleneck in generating animations. A typical video has 24 frames per second, so a single minute of video would contain 1440 frames. That minute of video rendered within Maya can take 5-10 minutes for each frame. For a minute of video, the rendering could be up to 240 hours if run on a single computer. Unreal Engine is a game changer – a simple rendering happens close to real time, i.e., 24 frames in a total of 1 second. In my work, with highly complex builds and transparent materials (as my above rendered model), the “highest quality” results I’m looking for have been taking me 3-4 minutes for 24 frames, or one second of animation. Still, that translates into 3 – 4 hours for a minute of rendering vs. Maya’s 120 – 240 hours. Wow!  Unreal Engine truly lives up to its name!

My latest client video project gave me a first opportunity to test out six months of self training on how to use my new PC workstation with Unreal Engine. I built all my client’s proprietary laboratory products in Maya, as I have done in the past, and then, I imported them into UE. At the Epic Games Marketplace, I found components I could purchase for a background laboratory scene, plus their free UE proprietary lights, materials, props and even characters I can animate and use to make the scene come alive. The end result was a more complete and believable scene than I have created or offered my client in the past with few additional costs, and rendering times that allowed me to explore and experiment with ideas, while losing very little time waiting to see how animated scenes look when rendered. That is a dream come true!! 

And, in the process of exploration I rediscovered a childhood interest of mine: kitbashing. My original creative outlet as a kid was building plastic model cars. As time went on, the kit in the box got a little boring, so I started building bodies out of balsa wood and filler putty to replace the original plastic body, while still using the plastic chassis and wheels. Mixing various parts, components and creating new ones to make something completely new and different is kitbashing. And now, Epic Games has given me many of the elements that I need to do that process all over again. Another company, actually called “Kitbash3D” sells full photo-real city scenes to pick and choose parts from. 

The maturing of the 3D tools marketplace is providing me a new level of creativity with lowered rendering times and great project turnaround times. It’s a great win for my clients and very satisfying for me personally. Really! 

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Bill Giobbi (bgob1) is founder and owner of Linea Forma Design, a 38 year old design firm specializing in creating graphic content for print, web and video. He is a graphic designer, industrial designer, model maker, technical illustrator and a digital 3D content creator/animator, with a love of all things design.
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3 Responses

  1. Seana Valentine

    So cool!

  2. Elisa

    How very cool, Bill; some remarkable evolution! Kitbashing sounds so… You! Love it.

  3. mark allen johnson

    Quite impressive!