Epic Games have posted an Unreal Engine Virtual Production, 47 page, white-paper. 

In July 2017, Epic released Fortnite, a video game where players save survivors of a worldwide cataclysmic storm. Players build fortifications and construct weapons from scavenged materials while fighting off monsters and other enemies. The game has more than 45 million devoted fans. And earlier this month, it broke the record for players playing at one time, at 3.4 million

In late 2016, in preparation for the game’s release, Epic Games began production on a three-minute cinematic trailer for Fortnite. Epic’s goal was to create a real-time animated short with the same quality as a pre-rendered sequence, but which would allow real-time navigation and interaction with the set during the production process. The purpose of Fortnite’s trailer was to showcase its fun and unique art style, and introduce the story’s goal as well as gameplay elements such as scavenging, building, and defending.

The pdf document (linked above) outlines the process of creating the Fortnite trailer using Unreal Engine, with a pipeline designed to minimize production time while allowing maximum collaboration and creativity.

While Unreal Engine was originally designed as a game development tool, its integration of many animation pipeline tasks—versioning, rigging, animation, editing, editorial review, changelist distribution, and others—make it an ideal tool for animation work as well. UE4's real-time rendering capabilities continues to push to boundaries of what is possible and help redefine the future possible effects and animation pipelines.

The trailer contains six sequences comprised of

  • 130 individual shots.
  • Final trailer can be played back in real time in Unreal Engine
  • At a Frame rate of 24 fps •
  • It is approximately three minutes •
  • Visual quality of real-time animation at least as high as pre-rendered cinematics.
ART rig with separate joint and control hierarchies

Epic incorporated into the production pipeline with the Unreal Engine:

  • Autodesk Maya – Low-poly modeling, UVs, animation
  • Autodesk 3ds Max - Character and hard surface modeling
  • Pixologic ZBrush - Sculpted details
  • Modo - Retopology tools
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Allegorithmic Substance Painter  and Allegorithmic®Substance Designer for Materials and textures
  • xNormal - Baking normals for environment assets
  • Motionbuilder - Motion capture data processing (data captured with Vicon motion capture h/w)
  • Blender - Dynamic destructive simulations
  • Adobe Premiere– Animatic (offline) editing, final editing
  • Autodesk Shotgun - Production tracking
  • Vicon Blade - Motion capture

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