Random42 Release Unreal Engine Animation on COVID-19 Infection and Vaccine Development

Towards the end of 2020 Random42 received an Epic MegaGrant, which was used to enhance our medical animation and interactive capabilities utilising Epic Games’ Unreal Engine; the world’s most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool.

With this rare opportunity, our team could develop a new real-time approach to our animations that has expanded the possibilities of what we can achieve creatively. The MegaGrant was used to create an educational animation on the use of vaccines for COVID-19. This new project is a follow-up to our hugely successful Coronavirus Outbreak Animation, which received close to 2 million views and has been featured in various news programmes and documentaries around the world.

Ben Ramsbottom, Random42 CEO

Although we have been working with games engines, such as Unreal Engine, for years, this project signifies the first time that we have created a full animation using such software. It symbolises the start of a journey, creating new worlds which we can explore, both for animation and interactive experiences – supporting our true entry into the evolving concept of the metaverse.

The team, led by Callum Welsh, have done an amazing job, creating an animation that meets our highest standards. I would also like to thank Epic for all their support on this project, which has had a transformative effect for Random42.

 

COVID-19 Infection and Vaccine Development Animation*

Random42 MetaHumans

The majority of the project was produced with our team working remotely from home due to COVID-19 restrictions here in the UK, utilising version control to allow the team to work simultaneously on the same project.

As to be expected, working with new software required the team to rethink our entire approach to animations, enabling us to work with the engine’s strengths and capitalise on them. This added great energy to the project, as we experimented with new concepts that we hope to incorporate back into our pipeline. The project has influenced and inspired many ideas to expand on and explore in future projects.

One of the most noticeable visual improvements was the use of Epic’s MetaHumans to create high-fidelity, photorealistic digital humans, something that can be time-consuming in traditional DCC apps.

Callum Welsh, Senior Art Director & Lead on the Unreal-based Project

It was definitely a big challenge to learn Unreal Engine to such a high level in a short period of time, but with such a wealth of online knowledge, community forums and support from Epic Games we were able to overcome all challenges encountered. Unreal Engine 4 let us really streamline the look development and animation stages, allowing for much more exploration of scale, layout, lighting moods and colour compositions in the various environments. This real-time workflow has the potential to have a huge impact on our work, as it maximises our productivity by removing the need to wait on slow processing of offline renders. This lets us continue to iterate and polish up until delivery and utilise all of our artists’ time creatively.

As a world leader in the scientific animation space, we felt we had a responsibility to convey the science behind the COVID-19 global pandemic in a way that is both engaging and easy to understand. We wanted to enable people of all backgrounds to understand the mechanisms of this disease, how to stop it from spreading and the importance of vaccines. After the success of our first video, we are very excited to release the sequel.

We would like to say a huge thank you to the team at Epic Games, firstly for the MegaGrant that made this project possible, but also for their support, guidance, and expertise throughout. As a company, we are incredibly excited about the possibilities that Unreal Engine 4 (and soon-to-be-released Unreal Engine 5) has given to us in terms of workflow and overall capabilities.

Random42 Unreal Engine covid animation

*Please note that facts may change over time as the outbreak is ongoing. Updates can be found at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

If you would like to use this video or any of the scientific imagery shown, for media and/or other purposes, please contact us at [email protected].

 

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