A few of the many reasons why I finally decided to do a real-time character project were that A – I wanted to finally give people the chance to explore my models as they wanted from all angles and B – real-time renderers were getting pretty powerful, with UE4 and CryEngine V paving the way for real-time graphics that rivaled offline renderers like Vray or Corona!
The main difference between real-time and offline renderers is that 1 frame in the latter can take between 5 minutes to a full day (depending on resources and complexity), while real-time engines can out put 60 frames in a second! This vast difference usually came at the cost of visual quality… until now. Don’t be fooled though, while real-time rendering is sometimes visually close to offline, there is still a massive gap in ACCURACY of the rendered image, even if quality and fidelity appear similar.
That being said the massive difference in time when it comes to outputting a simple animation, even if it is for preview purposes currently tips the scales in favor of real-time engines. This has been the case for many studios that make small fan based films like Erasmus Brosdau’s The Lord Inquisitor (http://preview.thelordinquisitor.com/) and Project Tetrach’s Death of Hope (https://www.facebook.com/ProjectTetrach/) which use CryEngine and UE4 respectively. This allows them to render animated scenes in much greater speed with a lot less resources (hardware wise).
It should be noted that while such projects use real-time engines they often modify various settings and source code that can drop performance to a single frame per second so while these films use game engines they often increase shadow quality and render distances to the point where they can not be used for gaming purposes.
Intrigued by this new trend (and speed) I decided to make this project run in real-time. My target would be to have 5 game ready characters in-engine running at 30 frames per second. To make things a little more exciting I also decided to make a very basic environment that would present them in the best possible light, while being relatively simple as to not steal the spot light from the characters themselves… and as such Hangar 45 was born…
Alexander, J. (2017). Star Wars: Rogue One’s best character was rendered in real time, a cinema first. [online] Polygon. Available at: https://www.polygon.com/2017/3/1/14777806/gdc-epic-rogue-one-star-wars-k2so [Accessed 22 May 2017].