Quixel demonstrates stunning photorealism using Unreal Engine and Megascans at GDC
Quixel’s photorealistic cinematic short “Rebirth” debuted today during Epic’s “State of Unreal” GDC opening session, showcasing an unprecedented level of photorealistic features built with Unreal Engine 4.21. The short was created by three artists at the company known for its photogrammetry expertise using its Megascans 2D and 3D physically-based asset library.
To prepare for the project, Quixel spent a month in ice-cold rain and thunderstorms scanning locales in Iceland, returning with over 1,000 scans, capturing a wide range of eco-regions and natural environments to feature in the short.
The result is “Rebirth,” a 1:45 real-time cinematic set in a futuristic alien landscape. Megascans provided standardized content from the get-go, which simplified production by eliminating the need to build assets from scratch. The high fidelity of the physically-based scans delivers results that are remarkably photorealistic.
Quixel brought together artists from games, VFX and architectural visualization to prove how Unreal Engine enables multiple industries to converge when leveraging a real-time pipeline. Partners such as Beauty & the Bit, SideFX and Ember Lab worked together with Quixel to bring this project to life.
With UE 4.21 at the heart of the real-time pipeline, Quixel’s artists were able to iterate on the go, eliminating the need for previsualization or post-production. The team also built a physical camera rig that was able to capture movements in-engine using virtual reality, adding an enhanced dimension of realism to the short. All post-processing and color grading was completed directly within Unreal.
“Our goal at Quixel is to democratize high-end 3D assets so that everyone can create captivating photorealistic content and experiences. 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,” said Teddy Bergsman, CEO, Quixel.