Unreal Engine has long since established itself as one of the leading video game creation tools in the industry, but its presence in Hollywood is also continuing to grow. This fall, Tribeca will bring the 3D creation tool to indie filmmakers during a fall 2021 program in New York City. IndieWire is exclusively announcing the details of the month-long event.
The in-person program will feature two components: The “Writing in Unreal” Intensive will focus on a select group of the film industry’s writers and directors, who will partner with dedicated Unreal Engine Artists to workshop a two-to-three page scene from a personal, unproduced project. The second component, Open Sessions, will target a wider gathering of independent filmmakers, including writers, directors, and creative producers, across three days and will include presentations, conversations, and case studies that feature how and why one should utilize Unreal Engine, which does not cost money to use.
“The impetus for our partnership with Epic Games began with expanding games at Tribeca,” Tribeca Games VP Casey Baltes told IndieWire in an email interview. “Alongside bringing games and creators to the forefront of the festival, we wanted to demonstrate how game technology is influencing the media landscape today and in the future. […] Unreal Engine allows for everyone on the team to be on the same page about the vision of the film, which can save a lot of time, frustration, and money in the long run. You can essentially see your movie before you make it and iterate in real time prior to setting foot on set.”
Filmmakers for the Intensive program will be selected by an invited application process and chosen based on criteria that Tribeca and Epic Games, which develops Unreal Engine, will develop together.
The barrier to entry is low, but that doesn’t mean that Unreal Engine is a budget program; the tool has been used to create some of the highest-profile video games of the last few years, ranging from “Fortnite” and “Final Fantasy VII Remake” to “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.” Unreal Engine has also been used to create sets for several major films and television shows, including “The Mandalorian,” “Westworld,” and “Ford v Ferrari.”
Tribeca’s upcoming Unreal Engine program isn’t the first time the organization has dabbled in the video game industry. The Tribeca Film Festival began featuring video games in 2011 when it featured Rockstar Games’ “L.A. Noire” at the event and has continued to showcase major video games at the festival’s more recent installments. Tribeca made festival history earlier in the year when the 2021 event featured an official selection of video games and a juried award that was decided by leading names in the film and video game industries.
As for Tribeca’s upcoming Unreal Engine program, Epic Games’ Karen Dufilho noted that though Unreal Engine was designed for the video game industry, it offered practical benefits for creatives in the film and television mediums, such as the ability to block out scenes, experiment with cameras and lighting, use in-camera visual effects and real-time animation, as well as virtual location scouting, among other tools.
“The biggest difference is that traditional 3D creative tools are notoriously slow and not easy to collaborate with,” Dufilho said in an email interview. “You might build a scene, wait hours or days for a render, pass it off to another department, rinse, repeat. Or you might never see any of the film in context. Because Unreal was originally built for gameplay, the results are immediate, collaborative, and interactive. This immediacy is an entirely new way to work, to figure out your story, and to share with your crew.”
Pre-registration for the Open Sessions will open October 15. More information on how to pre-register for the workshops, an overview of the curriculum, and featured guests will be announced in the coming weeks.