2020 was a huge year for real-time 3D graphics technology, which generates interactive content so quickly, it appears instantaneous.
According to Epic, real-time technologies have gained significant traction globally, from online events like Travis Scott’s virtual concert in Fortnite to virtual production techniques used in shows such as The Mandalorian, Westworld and His Dark Materials. In-camera visual effects (ICVFX) gained traction around the world as filmmakers used Unreal Engine for real-time visual effects on set. The engine has been leveraged on productions such as Call of the Wild, Bill and Ted Face the Music, Jingle Jangle, and The Witches, among others.
Epic has seen this story unfold in 2020’s numbers. By the end of last year, nearly half of announced next-gen games were being built on Epic’s Unreal Engine real-time 3D creation platform, while the number of film, TV, and animation projects that are using, or have used, Unreal Engine doubled from 1 January to 1 December 2020.
Unreal Engine is also in use in over 150 TV networks around the world, from ESPN to the NFL Network, and Fox Sports, CBS Sports, SKY, Aljazeera, MBC, CCTV, as well as NHK. In live broadcast, The Weather Channel is deploying it for AR graphics, Dreamwall is creating beautiful sets in Belgium, while multiple news channels covered the US election with Unreal Engine-powered solutions.
In 2021, Epic said the real-time 3D rendering market is set for even greater growth ahead, spurring innovation across sectors:
Marketing and advertising
Immersive, personalised marketing experiences take centrestage — omnichannel experiences have never been more real, and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) will be key to unlocking a whole new realm of digital possibilities. Real-time technologies will change the way ads are produced, with high-fidelity, life-like visuals.
Film, media and entertainment
Virtual production hits a peak — Virtual production will become the norm, boosting creative storytelling, shortening production cycles and increasing efficiency. Personalised and immersive experiences will be the name of the game, as direct-to-consumer streaming changes the way we interact with entertainment media.
At the same time, virtual entertainment will see a boom as people seek new experiences they cannot have in real life. Many existing events were given a real-time twist to enhance the viewer experience at home – think the extended reality (XR) environment for League of Legends Worlds 2020 – and Epic believes that this trends will persist in 2021 and beyond.
Check out Epic Games’ blog post for the full roundup of real-time trends and 2021 predictions at https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/blog/real-time-roundup-the-growth-of-interactive-3d-and-emerging-2021-trends