DEFINITION September 2022 - Web


mood and realise another shot is needed. Working in Unreal, you can go in, move the camera and hit render – all at a very minimal cost. “Traditional animation movies render in what are called passes: there might be as many as 20. Those get composited, then rendered out as a single shot for editing. In our case, everything in an Unreal Engine frame is final pixels. The minute I hit render, what I see on that screen goes into a 4K EXR file, then into Resolve. And it’s updated automatically: I never needed to do any transcoding on Rift . We didn’t have countless versions of each EXR file, we’d just version them up. It’s possible to go back and look at details from the previous edits that way. It all requires a shift in mindset, but once you’re in it, you can achieve so much.” Beyond a much faster turnaround and what was undoubtedly a better film by virtue of a unified vision, one of the greatest draws of this new-found approach for Dulull was keeping the creative talents of his team focused on their respective areas of expertise. “All these amazing artists were feeding work into a centralised hub –

lot of people working in Unreal Engine are game developers or CG artists, who don’t have much need for editorial. But when you’re finely combing through a 90-minute feature film, you can’t really do that in a game engine. You still need to rely on the traditional way of editing, with a linear pipeline.” Even here, a more interwoven collaboration was being fostered. There was no need for Dulull, who edited the film himself, to wait for finalised material before cutting. This shift away from old paradigms was one he relished. “Every week, we were delivering dailies, which were getting better and better over time. Not just shots, but full sequences. Next time around, I’ll hire a dedicated editor and have them involved right from the start,” the director muses. “That means they help shape the film while it’s happening in real time. They can ask for another shot with an alternate angle, to get the coverage needed, and I can give it to them. In live action, that’s impossible. You can’t even get away with it in conventional animation – once the lighting pass comes in, for example. An editor might see a lit scene, absorb the

ROUGH CUT Unreal Engine renders were pulled into DaVinci Resolve as part of an unorthodox editorial workflow – with assets seamlessly updated as production went on (above) SET IN MOTION Actor and movement specialist Ace Ruele works with director Haz Dulull on Rift (below)

Unreal Engine. I could pull it all together and feed it back to them for even more refinement. In this workflow, if I wanted to experiment with small details, like the way the lens looked, I’d do that myself. That meant everyone else could focus on their artistry, not their director’s desire to move a tree three pixels to the left,” he laughs. “The crew was very small. We started with three, then went to five, then ramped up to 12. So the value of

27. SEPTEMBER 2022

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