As if we’ve not been floored enough by Unity’s “The Heretic” video from a couple of days a go, photorealistic asset developer Quixel also showcased a video during the Game Developers Conference, dubbed “Rebirth“, which was created in Unreal Engine 4.21. Since the release, the video basically took over every GDC-related conversation for the day.
If the viewers wouldn’t know what the deal is beforehand, it would be almost impossible to realize they are looking at a digital footage. The camera glides over rocks with detailed structures and blades of grass that bend under the wind naturally.
When the scene switches to structures looming in the shadows and the mist, the metallic reflection, the weight of it, it all still feels solid and grounded in reality, though there is a surreal air about those buildings, an uncanny valley remnant but you just can’t really put your finger on it, until you realize that you’re not actually looking at a footage filmed in real life.
The stunning video was created using Quixel’s Megascans 2D and 3D physically-based asset library but before that, the team spent a month in Iceland and captured a large number of eco-regions and environments that have been subsequently used for the short, in addition to returning with over 1000 scans that helped them deal with all the different textures present in the short film.
Thanks to the Megascans content, Quixel eliminated the extra work of building assets from scratch – the scans are so high fidelity that the results look like actual photographs, even when the video is paused. Every frame a painting, as they say.
To make sure they could get as much realism out of the production as possible, the Quixel team even built an actual physical camera rig in order to capture in-engine movements via virtual reality.
All the following post-processing and color grading was completed ‘directly within Unreal’. What’s even more impressive is the fact that only three artists worked on the video.
“Our goal at Quixel is to democratize high-end 3D assets so that everyone can create captivating photorealistic content and experiences.” said Quixel CEO Teddy Bergsman “With advancements in real-time rendering technology powered by Unreal, we set out to see if we could leverage Unreal and Megascans to create a cinematic with inherent photorealism in real-time, rivaling the results from traditional offline rendering.”
While the team used Unreal Engine 4.21 to create the short film, the 4.22 version of the game engine is expected to arrive in the next couple of weeks as well.
The keynote where “Rebirth” was showcased also allowed the public to have a peek at “Troll“, a teaser for a full movie that was created by the Goodbye Kansas Studios and Deep Forest Films. The trailer was used as an example of Unreal’s latest ray-tracing tools.
3Lateral, which is part of Epic Games, worked on the 3D and 4D facial scanning for the film and applied its Meta Human Framework to create the facial expressions of the teaser’s heroine, interpreted by Alicia Vikander.
The movie has already been in development for a while but a release date for the full version has not yet been released.