K-2SO droid rendered in real time using games tech, Pixar's USD format support added to UE4

Some Rogue One scenes shot using Unreal Engine 4

Scenes from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were revealed today at Epic’s GDC Keynote to have been shot using Unreal Engine 4. The scenes feature lovable droid K-2SO, as played by Alan Tudyk, rendered out in realtime using the games technology before being composited traditionally into the film.

This cross pollination between industries is becoming more and more prevalent and Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, promises that the more this happens, the better it will be for game developers. "Film makers are pushing this stuff forward," he says. "We’re listening to what they need, we’re working with them collaboratively and closely and it’s all going to benefit the games industry. It’s the push towards photorealism. Not only building these features, but actually testing them side by side, pixel by pixel with real world environments and being forced to make these objects look correct in those environments pushes it to a level that nobody else is achieving at all.

"Unreal Engine is the only way to achieve these final, photorealistic pixels in real time. It’s the only renderer that does that. Seeing this all come together and be proven out by the best companies in the industry – Pixar and LucasFilm and General Motors – I think the proof is in the pudding."

Here Sweeney is referencing the Blackbird Chevrolet demo, also shown at the press conference, as well as a separate collaboration with Pixar to further bring together games and film technology. "Here’s not a games industry in development, here’s a digital content industry," he says. "And it’s all coming together. We’re going to be moving these objects built for films into games, the movies are going to run in VR and because it all needs to respond dynamically to your motion, it’s all going to be running in realtime." 

On stage Epic demonstrated loading a scene from within VR into the Unreal Engine from Finding Dory, explaining that in order to do this, Epic has been working with Pixar for about half a year to get USD (Universal Scene Description) support into Unreal Engine. It’s a file format used at Pixar for object, scene and animation information which will allow for even greater cross-discipline collaboration in the future.

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