Experience design company Imagination is set to embrace groundbreaking virtual production techniques and help brands deliver Hollywood-quality visual effects and techniques to the masses.
The move has been made possible after the company received a grant from Epic Games, which will see Imagination take up the capabilities of Unreal Engine, a game engine developed by Epic Games, first showcased in the 1998 first-person shooter game Unreal.
It will allow Imagination to blend the physical and digital worlds by combining live-action footage and computer graphics in realtime, enabling brands to create cinematic live, or as-live, content indistinguishable from the real world.
The result is claimed to be a revolution in content production which will meet the brands’ growing demand for richer and more engaging content and experiences, while removing barriers around quality, cost, and turnaround time.
As content consumption soars due to the pandemic, organisations are seeking to innovate and deliver unique and immersive experiences seamlessly across the entire customer journey. Imagination believes virtual production will play an important role in doing just that.
As a demonstration of its virtual production and brand storytelling capabilities, the company has created a cinema-quality teaser featuring the new Trident 660 from Triumph Motorcycles as an example.
Viewers follow the story of a female protagonist Phoenix Jaxson—played by alt-pop artist July Jones—as she solves crime and delivers justice in a dystopian world. The video highlights the creative possibilities of virtual production by taking the audience on an action-packed journey through photorealistic urban environments, spanning day to night, which finally breaks the fourth wall by revealing the set and film crew behind the production.
Imagination recreated a highly complex cyberpunk world with scenes resembling the cinematic landscapes of film directors Zack Snyder and Ridley Scott. In fact, the video’s opening scene is a nod to Bladerunner and highlights the cinematic possibilities.
The intricate urban landscapes reimagined going from day to night demonstrates the creative control and in-the-moment adjustments virtual production allows and solves the common challenge of needing to chase the light in traditional production.
The team has been able to deliver ambitious results with commonly tricky objects – such as reimagining the reflective surfaces of Phoenix’ sunglasses and her Triumph motorcycle – seamlessly blending these with the virtual world for a photorealistic and visually stunning end result.
Epic Games business development manager Doug Wolff said: “Following years of collaboration on remarkable Unreal Engine projects, we’re delighted to support Imagination’s pursuit of virtual production and in-camera VFX through Epic MegaGrants. We’re excited to see their storytelling capabilities and technical expertise open new creative doors and unlock powerful content for their partners in the future.”
Imagination global business director Ross Wheeler added: “With audiences consuming more content than ever before, the interaction with brands is constantly evolving and the delivery of brand experiences is becoming increasingly complex.
“Unreal Engine combined with our 50 years of experience demonstrates how virtual production can enable brands to create high-quality, cost-effective content that tells stories in the most compelling way using these complex layered assets across the total customer experience.”
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