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Unreal Engine Powers the ‘Aberthol’ Contemporary-Ballet

Filmed entirely on greenscreens, the feature film project took five years to write, choreograph, film, and produce; Renaissance Dance Theatre used Epic MegaGrant to bring classic artform into the virtual production age.

Producer, Tom Cummings, a former dancer in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, has used Unreal Engine to create a new, award-winning contemporary-ballet feature film. Aberthol, took five years to write, choreograph, film, and produce. His company, Renaissance Dance Theatre, was the recipient of a MegaGrant from Epic Games.

“Unreal Engine is so much more than just a game engine,” noted Cummings. “It’s radically changing multiple industries, including media and entertainment. For a small, independent dance company these tools are revolutionary.”

“I am extremely grateful to Epic Games, their support has allowed me to turn my ideas into a reality,” he added. “High end visuals and special effects are becoming more and more accessible. It’s amazing that an artform such as contemporary ballet is able to benefit from this democratization.”

Aberthol was filmed entirely on greenscreens, allowing dance to be set in a world created in Unreal Engine. Hollywood has already been using this technology for titles such as The Mandalorian, but this is the first time it has been used for contemporary ballet.

The film’s evocative Viking soundscape was written by award-winning composer Austin Wintory and was originally used for games The Banner Saga and Horn. Cummings discovered Wintory through his soundtrack for the indie-classic, Journey.

Aberthol is a tale from the ancient world, a time torn between chaos and order. In this purely dance narrative, our protagonist Andra finds herself caught in the storm of war, bound to a journey of sacrifice and redemption. With an epic Viking soundscape, composed by Austin Wintory and performed by the Hollywood Symphony and Dallas Winds, Aberthol is a feast for the ears as much as the eyes.

Watch the trailer:

The full film is available for full viewing here.

Currently Aberthol is on the film festival circuit and has so far been awarded Best Screendance Short at Independent Shorts Awards, was a finalist for both Best First-Time Director' at Canadian Cinematography Awards and Best Experimental Film at European Cinematography Awards, as well as Semi-finalist for Best Feature Film at New York Cinematography Awards.

Epic MegaGrants is a $100 million program that continues Epic Games’ long-standing commitment to the success of all creators and is designed to service and assist game developers; enterprise professionals; media and entertainment creators; students; educators; and tool developers doing outstanding work with Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community.

Source: Renaissance Dance Theatre