How Unreal Engine transforms event industry during pandemic

The key feature of this tool is to instantly create a 3D environment that provides endless possibilities for the virtual events and it can vary according to our imagination 

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by TMR FILE

THE Covid-19 pandemic has forced the event industry to shift to virtual events in order to survive. 

Immersive multimedia studio FrameMotion Studio Sdn Bhd has been using Unreal Engine, an open and advanced real-time three-dimensional (3D) tool used by game developers, to recreate a 3D environment instantly. 

This replicates an almost real experience like attending a physical event, especially through augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) technologies. 

According to FrameMotion director and CEO Lyon Kong, Unreal Engine has opened the big door for virtual events which can actually create multiple, endless possibilities of the environment so that they are able to fulfil their clients’ needs. 

“We actually have to explore deeper and deeper into Unreal Engine, so we create a solution for the virtual events by understanding what our client’s demands and needs are. 

“Other than fulfilling the last minute requests and changes because of the event industry they have a lot of last-minute changes, we can always do it instantly in the Unreal Engine,” he said during the Epic Games’ Unreal Digital Summit recently. 

The key feature of this tool is to instantly create a 3D environment that provides endless possibilities for the virtual events and it can vary according to our imagination, whether the setting is for an awards night or a concert. 

FrameMotion has even expanded the use of Unreal Engine to produce content for the highly anticipated Dubai Expo 2020 and for the Qatar Pavillion. 

Apart from creating virtual environments for events, the company is also planning to produce a new animated series on TV using the tool and looking at films too. 

Now that interstate borders have reopened and most businesses have resumed, he still believes that the future of events would be in hybrid form — where audiences can choose to attend both physically and virtually. 

“There will be a lot of things like AR happening in the physical events and also some such as XR. So XR will be the next trend for events,” he said. 

Malaysia’s digital content sector has been growing over the past few years and the industry is set to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 8% by 2025, which has been advanced through the local gaming, animation, media and entertainment industries. 

The government has realised the potential of these industries to become the core pillars of the digital economy. 

The Malaysian Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) is set to boost Malaysia’s digital creative industry through several policies and initiatives to spur innovation such as the Digital Content Creators Challenge, Digital Content Grant and its regional industry events, LEVEL UP KL and Kre8tif! 

The recently unveiled Digital Economy Blueprint aims to transform the country into a digital content creation hub by 2030 and another RM46 million would be allocated to support and encourage hiring and training in the local film and media production across the sector. 

Local creators are required to leverage on next-generation technologies, such as real-time 3D visualisation software, to spur innovation and it is already revolutionising the creative development process for creators globally. 

As a result, creating high-fidelity graphics, accelerating faster, more collaborative workflows, streamlining development processes and having access to these technologies as well as collaborations across the creative ecosystem would boost Malaysia’s creative industries. 

Unreal Engine is developed by American company Epic Games, which is investing in the Malaysian market. 

Pitalwalla believes that local digital content industry has a great growth potential

Epic Games business director for India and South-East Asia Sameer Pitalwalla believes that local digital content industry has a great growth potential. 

They are proud to be supporting local creators and developing a wider ecosystem. 

“We are rolling out our support for creators in several ways — firstly, democratising access to next-generation technology with the Unreal Engine, which is free for download. 

“We are also offering a whole gamut of online training initiatives, as well as training and development courses for professionals looking to get started on the Unreal Engine,” he said in his speech. 

Epic Games is also enabling more access to talent and expertise across their global network of Unreal creators, technical specialists, and leading industry experts in gaming, animation, film media and entertainment. 

In order to provide capital and funding for creators leveraging Unreal in new and innovative projects, the company has also provided schemes such as Epic MegaGrants. 

“In Malaysia, we are excited to be working with partners such as MDEC, and local developer studios such as Streamline Media Group, AeonSparx Interactive Sdn Bhd, Ammobox Studios, FrameMotion, Scribble Studios and Disguise as they create cutting-edge content for a new digital world,” added Pitalwalla. 

MDEC digital creative content director Mohan Low Han Sen said they are starting to explore beyond the entertainment side but maintaining their momentum in terms of video games and animation. 

The agency also held some workshops to harness Unreal Engine skills among talents. 

“One of our goals for next year is to develop, produce some new API’s or reauthorise instructors. 

“That’s really our goal and we are also looking to see how we can expand the Unreal Academy programmes into our premier digital tech institute’s so they are like a set of helping universities,” he explained. 

There is also an exciting line-up of Unreal Engine programmes MDEC has set in store next year. 

Low has also shared their 10-year Digital Content Ecosystem policy where they aim to not only drive Malaysia’s creative content but also create a conducive and competitive environment. 

“The first pillar is talent and so we’ve already actually covered a bit of that all the way from high schools all the way up to upscaling rescaling and industry development. 

“We have a lot of our acceleration programmes, peer collision programmes, incubation programmes and so forth as well as market access and then for IP commercialisation,” he said. 

Epic Games has also launched the latest update to the tool which is Unreal Engine 4.27 which introduces powerful new features for those in the creative industry. 

These highlights include major updates to their in-camera visual effects toolset for virtual production enhancements to GPU lightmass for significantly faster light baking, integration of the Oodle Compression Suite and Bink Video codecs for free use in Unreal Engine, production-ready Pixel Streaming, production-ready OpenXR support, Datasmith upgrades. 

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