SIGGRAPH 2016 JPR Annual Press Luncheon by Peter McGuinness
July 2016 - This year’s JPR luncheon panel discussion took a look at the growing use of game engines in moviemaking but first, Jon took time out to give the Jon Peddie Technology Advancement Award to surprise guest Tim Sweeney.
According to Peddie, all of the currently-available game engines were initially custom developed for specific games and only later did their creators realise the value they brought and capitalise on it after the fact. Sweeney confirmed that this was certainly true of Epic and Unreal Engine which surprised them so much that when they were initially approached by developers wanting to use it, they tried at first to discourage them: “they’d say what about that game engine? and we’d say yeah, it’s really, really expensive but they’d keep on wanting it!”
Kathleen Maher, Editor-in-Chief of JPR’s Techwatch discussed the present and future impact of game engines on moviemaking with a panel representing those ‘accidental’ businesses as well as the users of their products. Paul Doyle, CEO of Fabric Software; Jean-Colas Prunier, Creative Director at Crytek and Mark Schoennagel, a Unity evangelist were joined by Milica Zec and Winslow Turner Porter III, co-creators of VR movie ‘Giant’.
After hearing Zec and Porter describe their experience of VR moviemaking as a process of needing to “unlearn everything we knew about making movies” a description that is quickly becoming standard as directors get to grips with the demands of movies in-the-round, the panel quickly established a consensus that game engines are one of the keys to empowering directors with the freedom needed at the visualisation stage for a succesful VR movie industry but integration is a problem.
Prunier made the point that the requirements for a game engine are still very different from those placed on a real time renderer for movies, appealing for the use of ‘real time’ over game engine for that reason.
A brief foray into the world of very large dataset rendering pointed up the need for a real time tool for architectural visualisation. The need for portability and editability of models between tools is common to both industries and Prunier strongly asserted that the significance of Pixar’s open sourcing of USD should not be underestimated. This, he believes, will be a game changer that has the potential to catalyse a dramatic revision and optimisation of movie production practices.
The panel set a high bar with their wish list for future technology developments which included real time ray tracing and ultimately full light field rendering, which should keep the GPU industry in work for a while.