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Platige Image Releases ‘Koala’ Unreal Engine 4-Powered Short

As part of its ongoing R&D efforts, studio creates animated short showcasing new UE4 real-time technology, including ray tracing and rendering innovations.

Powerhouse Polish animation and VFX studio Platige Image, the folks that brought us animated shorts like the Oscar-nominated Cathedral, Fallen Art, and Paths of Hate, as well as one of the shorts from Love, Death + Robots and more than 2,500 commercials, has just shared with AWN their new short, Koala, powered by Unreal Engine 4.

Koala is a brief but classic story of a hero who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this difficult situation, he is forced to fight. The piece demonstrates the possibilities of new technology used by the Warsaw-based studio, and how the real-time engine affects the flexibility and speed of their animated work.

Particular attention should be paid to the use of an innovative ray tracing system / rendering technology, which involves analyzing the trajectory of light rays and their scattering after they reflect from the surface. Ray tracing in UE4 shows the effects of changing lighting in real-time, without waiting for the image to be rendered, which in the case of traditional rendering engines, can take many hours.

“Looking from the traditional animation pipeline perspective, Unreal Engine saves time in the lighting, rendering, and compositing steps significantly,” says Karol Żbikowski, Platige Image CEO. “Its additional advantage is the minimum number of technical errors (in the render process). It’s too early to say what will be the impact of the technology on our business but for sure we see opportunities here.”

“While working on Koala, we wanted to fully exploit the possibilities offered by the latest version of Unreal Engine 4,” adds Pawel Gajda, CG producer. “The introduction of the ray-tracing function has enabled a significant qualitative leap, materially increasing the realism of the visual layer.”

Koala is the first project created by Platige Image powered by Unreal Engine 4. The Warsaw-based studio plans to further integrate this environment with its technological facilities in effort to create more real-time engine projects in the future.

The studio has been looking at the potential of working with real-time engines for some. Artists like CG supervisor Rafał Kidziński note that tools needed to implement cinematics and VFX have advanced significantly in the last two years, making it possible to create much longer and more sophisticated animations. “Platige is a very creative space where we typically use almost all available 3D packages in our production,” Kidziński says. “For this project, R&D was a crucial aspect, so convincing the team to avoid already known solutions and go as deep as possible into the new package was a challenge. Still, in the end, it turns out as a great benefit for the project.”

Choosing a fight-based story was not done by accident. According to Koala director, Anna Szustak, “This form allows us to tell in an allegorical and simple way about the struggle of the individual with the world around him. Each of us faces situations that overwhelm us and with which we want to be able to cope - that's why we identify with the hero who is capable to do so. In addition, the battle scenes give Platige the opportunity to work with outstanding stunt riders, which is a real pleasure.”

Source: Platige Image

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.