The best thing about doing this presentation, where the main thrust is seeing our Unreal expert Stephane Bourez create a fully usable campaign in 30-minutes in real-time while also presenting and entertaining the crowd, is then watching that man look like he had totally forgotten there was an audience and just disappear into his Unreal Engine world. Like a kid with a favourite toy.
(And still deliver the campaign).
While this is at the same time a joy to watch and a massive eye-opener into the ease and speed at which the current production process can be cut in time, cost and carbon by Unreal, it’s also a lovely little metaphor for what Unreal Engine really is.
At first, it looks complicated and has a potential “that’s not for us”, “it’s a lot of work”, “I don't get it” vibe, but believe me, once you get into it, you realise it's very easy to get lost in there. And very easy to take on board. And very hard to turn away from once you see the savings it can offer you.
With 2023 hurtling towards us and the inevitable December slow down, post-Xmas lull to do a bit of thinking, why don’t you take that time to consider how you currently produce content? The process in which your campaigns are made. When you sit and think about it piece by piece, it will quickly become clear that there are a lot of areas in the current production process that are uneconomical, unfriendly to the environment and unsustainable at these costs.
Enter the Universal asset.
But first. Back to the event. Earlier in the year, we partnered with the IPA and Epic Games to make Unreal and reality for marketers and agencies, and this workshop primer is one way we are doing that. Rachel Stones, Business Development Manager at Epic Games, is Unreal’s voice in the industry. She took to the stage to introduce Unreal itself, a game engine that powers things such as Fortnite, but is also, in her words “the stepping stone to the metaverse”.
“At Epic we want to build the Metaverse. But it doesn't really exist right now. It’s not useful as a concept because the Internet is 2D. The Metaverse is 3D where you can interact with your surroundings. The only way it could run would be on a game engine.
“But don't fall into the trap of thinking that because it doesn't really exist now, it won’t happen. It definitely will. 3D worlds are here to stay. Kids are already building these worlds in Minecraft. They’re not going to want to stop doing this as they get older.
“Unreal can prepare the brands you are working with to be ready for this coming Metaverse. This is the first step in building for the future. It's the on-ramp for all companies to bring physical products into a digital world."
And that idea of blowing the walls off of realism was front of mind when first speaking with Unreal about the content for the workshop. The conclusion was that the best way to show off the tool would be to not use the standard fare of unattainable hypercars or high-end watches, as we are all familiar with these products in a CG environment.
The recommendation was that the best way to show the scope and flexibility of the offering would be to use an everyday item that lives in every home across the country - hence the creation of the Bubble Buddies. A Reusable, sustainable, refillable toy for the bath. A whole new brand and product that was created entirely in Unreal just for this presentation by our Unreal Engine magician, Stephane Bourez.
As referenced earlier, the point of this is to show that once you have, what we call a Universal Asset, this can be used again and again and again, to create new campaigns with real-time editing and… wait for it…..no need for rendering.
Yes, the process that means you pay another two grand and wait another 2 days for your new asset just disappeared. And they can be used in any size or any medium, from VR on a phone to the Imax. It's all the same resolution.
Simply put, the message of the event is. Unreal saves time and it saves cost. It keeps the bra you’re working with different agencies. It's sustainable because there is no need for render farms and you don't need to go on shoots. You get to focus on the creative, not the production elements. All of these contribute to richer experiences and lead to more brand affinity leading to more purchases.
So maybe the best way to round this off is with words from the presenter himself, just before he drifted off into his own little Unreal world.
“Unreal is creative at the speed of thought. If you’re looking over the controller's shoulder, you can do stuff on the fly, find happy accidents, and just try new things, all in real-time. What would have taken days is now taking seconds, you can have a golden hour all day long and you can play God with the weather.”
“We all know rendering is a grind. Using Unreal is like playing again. When you show people it's like when you were a kid and you’d say to your friends, come to my room and I can show you my toys.”