Advanced Television

The gaming tech transforming film and TV

June 4, 2024

Here in the digital age, the lines between different entertainment markets are continually being blurred. This is particularly true of the film and television industries, we’re currently seeing a new evolution in terms of how stories are being told and produced—and a new wave of technologies being integrated to do so. The impact of gaming on film and TV is proving to be far-reaching, as the tools used to streamline production processes and enhance visual storytelling are now playing a major role in content creation for the big screen.

Of course, the relationship between gaming and film and TV has been established for quite some time. Video game adaptations of films have been in play since consoles first emerged and as the industry has developed through the decades the connection has only gotten stronger. Even the less mainstream digital gaming sectors such as digital casino gaming are influenced by the big screen, with cinema continuing to be a top theme for many of online slots titles that populate the sector, such as Playtech’s King Kong slot and the Jumanji game from NetEnt. Plus, there have been several highly-successful movie and television adaptations of gaming IP in recent years, such as Detective Pikachu and The Last of Us. Nevertheless, gaming tech is proving to be as impactful in production as gaming content is in ideation.

Let’s take a closer look at the innovations causing a stir.

Game Engines

Game engines are software frameworks primarily designed for the development of video games. They improve efficiency Throughout the development process by providing a suite of tools and technologies enabling developers to create, render, and manage game environments and assets.

One of the most significant advantages of using game engines in film and television is real-time rendering. The more traditional rendering techniques can be time-consuming, often requiring hours or even days to render a single frame. Game engines, however, can render even complex scenes in real-time, dramatically speeding up production and allowing for immediate adjustments when necessary.

Developed by Epic Games, Unreal Engine is a programme currently being utilised by film and TV for its extensive real-time rendering capabilities. In virtual production, for instance, Unreal Engine is used to create digital environments that actors can interact with in real-time on set. Disney made full use of its potential during the filming of The Mandalorian, with LED walls displaying high-fidelity backgrounds rendered in the programme instead of relying on the slower, less immersive green screen techniques.

Game engines also facilitate enhanced pre-visualisation, allowing filmmakers to see how each scene will look before they are shot. Cinematographers and directors can experiment with camera angles, lighting, and visual effects in this virtual environment and make informed decisions that will save resources when it comes to filming.

2019’s The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau, was a recent blockbuster movie to utilise the Unity game engine during pre-visualisation. Unity Technologies flagship cross-platform engine was put to work to generate an interactive virtual reality environment in which Favreau and team could plan crucial shots in advance.

Mocap Technology

Now a cornerstone of modern film and TV productions, motion capture (mocap) technology was initially developed for video games. The tech involves recording the movement of actors to animate digital character models, which brings enhanced levels of realism to CGI characters. As anyone who’s seen the groundbreaking Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was one of the first high-profile film series to take advantage of the tech, will testify, mocap is essential for creating lifelike character animation.

It also serves as a valuable tool when choreographing stunt and action scenes. By capturing an actor’s movements in real life and transposing them into a digital environment, filmmakers can safely and accurately depict complex sequences that would otherwise be difficult or dangerous to perform.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is making inroads across all manner of industries these days. While the concept of applying AI to scriptwriting is still not without debate, generative AI, which has long been utilised across gaming sectors, is proving to have a positive impact.

Generative AI has the facility to automate and optimise key rendering processes, significantly enhancing the quality and efficiency of visual effects. For instance, AI algorithms can generate realistic textures, simulate natural phenomena, and even predict how light interacts with different surfaces pre and post production, reducing the amount of manual labour required to make manual adjustments.

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