Epic Diaries: August 2008

Epic Diaries: August 2008

By Develop

August 14th 2008 at 11:13AM

This month: UE3 powers a new animated series inspired by Brothers in Arms, and Capcom signs up for its second UE3 licenceâ?¦


Blockade Entertainment is an innovative studio conceived to create compelling animated experiences for television, online and film using modern game engine technology and video game assets.

Founded by Brad Foxhoven, with partner Gearbox Software in tow, licensing Unreal Engine 3 has been a natural step in Blockade’s quest to realising its creative vision.

With a successful proof of concept and a national commercial already under its belt, Blockade is now creating its first animated series, Sacred Road, using assets from Gearbox Software’s Brothers in Arms series.

“One of the big advantages that Unreal Engine 3 brings to developing material for video or any other linear medium is the extremely fast iteration time,” said Foxhoven.

“You can see the effects of changes you make almost instantly, which allows for very fast fine-tuning of many aspects of our work, particularly when it comes to camera work, post-process effects, and lighting. Being able to replay your work in real time and adjust lighting, animation, or post-process accordingly saves tons of time over a more traditional renderer.”

Foxhoven’s team has relied on many Unreal Engine 3 tools, including Matinee, which has been used for all of the scene setup and control. Blockade leverages the HDR rendering technology to create a smoother, more efficient pipeline.

The team also utilises the Cascade visual editor and particle system as well as the engine’s post-process tools for incorporating motion blur, depth of field, and various lighting effects in the show.

“Unreal Engine 3 allows us to be more efficient in various stages of our production, giving us more time and resources to be experimental on how we approach each episode,” explained Foxhoven. “We can stage and edit various aspects of the production, and not lose out on our timeline.”

Foxhoven said the biggest advantage to adapting Unreal Engine 3 for Hollywood is its speed.

“UE3 allows directors to create multiple takes, and edit those takes on the fly,” he said. “They can see their changes when they want them, allowing the production to continue to move ahead, and not wait for extended rendering to occur. Plus, the cost benefit allows for more shows to be produced in this format, giving a broader basis of opportunity with multiple distribution partners.” Despite the lower production cost, Foxhoven added that he thinks Sacred Road will have the appearance of the best cinematics in today’s most technologically advanced games. He added that the show looks like a fully rendered CG production, and the visual quality is spectacular.

The Blockade production team has already ramped up from 12 people to 50, and in addition to this first series, additional 3D shows will be created using Unreal Engine technology down the line.

“We have now created a very robust pipeline that allows us to scale up for additional projects relatively quickly,” added Foxhoven. “The engine enables us to keep a consistent pipeline on what we bring into the company, and how we export the shows and their multiple formats. We are currently targeting six series with multiple episode orders for each.”


Capcom has entered into its second agreement with Epic Games to use Unreal Engine 3 for an unannounced project.

”Unreal Engine 3 is a perfect fit for this project,” said Keiji Inafune, managing corporate officer, R&D Management Group, Capcom.

“Not only does the development team have thorough knowledge of Unreal Engine 3, the general versatility of Unreal Engine 3 will fully meet the requirements particular to this project.”

“One of the major advantages is the well-established support system,” he added. “We are delighted to enter into this license agreement, and have strong backup by Epic Games. With Unreal Engine 3, we can expect high development efficiency as
well as high creativity within the development team.”