Alexander Pimenov and Dmitry Bubyakin, Motion Designers at The Agency, Wargaming, talked about the studio pipeline, Real-Time technologies, and use of UE4 and Blender in production. In 2019, they talked about utilizing Real-Time engines in Motion Design at CG Event, their presentation is available on YouTube (in Russian).
In case you missed it
Learn more about real-time tech
Alexander Pimenov: The Motion Design Department is a part of The Agency, the inner Wargaming studio, dealing with full-cycle content production. We do all sorts of tasks: UI-animations, video tutorials, packshots, and fully-featured CG videos. The pipeline is quite common: Adobe, Cinema 4D, Octane, Redshift, Substance Painter.
Today, visual artists have to keep a close eye on Real-Time technologies not to fall behind the industry trends. Also, working on game content, we are looking for some handy software that can deal with game assets. Just a few years ago, Unreal Engine 4 was used for video production only by enthusiasts and engine ambassadors. Now, thanks to good marketing and Epic Games' continuing effort to enter all possible segments, it became a powerful working instrument.
Dmitry Bubyakin: There's the same story with Blender and EEVEE: one large update and they are ready for Real-Time production. The main advantage they both have is quick rendering.
UE4 in Production
Alexander Pimenov: Being a gaming engine, UE4 has a lot of interesting features for a wide range of other purposes. If you ever worked with game logic, object-oriented programming or lighting, you won’t have much trouble in learning software like that. Anyway, in case of any challenge, if you put enough time into it, you’ll find the solution.
During the work, I tried to do my best to overcome the limitations I had and get the final result as quickly as possible. Nowadays, the key message of UE4 is the ability to solve your tasks quickly, and I wanted to put it to the test.
For us, UE4 is a tool for quick visualization, above all. A quick tank creation, for example. The advent of RTX was a very important step - it enabled us to work on the lighting in familiar software without baking and other tricks common to gaming engines. However, the results weren't much better.
That is why we opted for dynamic lighting. Then, the turn came to Lighting Artists. They placed SSR, Planar Reflection, prepared fake shadows and volumetric objects. All of that gave us the quality close to the final version.
Lighting was the greatest challenge for us. We had to fake a lot of things to get the final picture close to CG. It was quite an interesting experience - in fact, we were trying to achieve the final quality without compositing.
The main advantages of UE4 are mockup pre-visualization, product visualization, ability to work with game assets, and relatively quick high-resolution rendering. There are a lot of new features, useful for video production. For example, tuning the Depth of Field sometimes helps you to significantly improve even a very dull picture.
Use of Megascans
As for libraries, we use Megascans. It really rescues us in certain cases. The quality is especially noticeable in the case of Real-Time rendering. Though the credits go rather to Megascans than engines.
The speed depends on the type of task. To make a location from scratch is a real challenge, impossible to do without Level Designers. A nice render of a single tank model is a much more doable task.
However, let’s not forget that UE4 is a gaming engine above all and its peculiarities might affect your work.
Rendering in UE4 or Blender
Dmitry Bubyakin: The video editors (like Sequencer in UE4) were added to the game engines in response to the need to make cut-scenes. Gradually, they are becoming better and better.
UE4 and Blender are constantly evolving programs and it would be against logic to regard them as field-specific tools. To use our creativity to its fullest extent, we must try all available instruments and find those which fit our requirements better.
Each program has its own advantages and disadvantages. Blender is a perfect tool to start with. It’s simple, with a quite small range of settings which makes Blender more user-friendly but prevents reaching a high level of quality. Another room for potential improvement is the fact that it doesn’t have Ray-Tracing yet. Yet, despite everything, we are not looking for a different renderer right now and concentrate our efforts on EEVEE and UE4.
If you are taking your first steps in 3D, we highly recommend you to learn GPU-renderers. Real-Time renderers are good only for certain types of tasks. Be aware of all popular tools but use only those which meet your goals most effectively.