What are we looking forward to creating in 2021?

It’s time for a resolution update. Your Western New Year’s resolutions have probably had a reality check by now.

Most of us were glad to see the back of March 2020 that never ended. Now in February 2021 there’s a sense of renewed hope and energy for the new year. Changes that had started before the crisis have been accelerated and the notion of a studios’ culture and business have probably changed forever.

Back in 2018 we gave a talk at Effects Montreal about how “The game engines are coming!”. Fast forward to 2021 and the engines are here and practically in every studio. EPIC was ablaze last year with Mandalorian virtual production videos and dazzled us with the UE5 teaser and Weta fur. Unity showed us some fruits from their Furioos acquisition and released Unity Forma to non-gaming verticals. Late in the year we got to download NVIDIA’s Omniverse and early this year at Sundance Disney and Unity, showcased an interactive episode of Baymax Dreams.

The game engines have charged into the room with the promise of real-time goodness. We need to manage the change for artists so that existing production pipelines continue to be highly effective with their current toolsets but at the same time take advantage of what game engines have to offer. Our mindset has to transition to thinking 100% real-time and as close to ‘latest’ or ‘final’ as possible.

The pandemic has forced us to accelerate our thinking about what it means to work remotely and how we collaborate live. With these ideas in mind, here is our top ten list of what we need to do:

  1. Unlock the data model
  2. Unlock the features into apps and services
  3. Create automated assistants to help organize game project by production department
  4. Adapt with the evolving animation workflows with external devices
  5. Reconcile game engine content with existing review & approval processes
  6. Quickly deploy multiple projects to remote artists
  7. Automate recycle & reuse of content between projects
  8. Get the game engine doing more jobs on the farm
  9. Stream real-time content live to the producer’s browser or director’s app
  10. Collaborate live, in-context & remote between game engines and DCCs

Looking forward to 2021 there’s a sense of relief. While there have been studio shake ups a new style of studio is emerging, forged and accelerated by crisis. I really can’t predict what aspects of our former business will resume but I know there’s enough exciting new challenges to keep us happily creating.

-- by Simon Inwood on February 12, 2020