At GDC 2015, Epic Games unveiled a new real-time demonstration built to showcase Unreal Engine 4’s open world features and advanced rendering muscle.
Directed and produced by Epic’s Gavin Moran and Kim Libreri, respectively, A Boy and His Kite shows a boy’s journey through picturesque mountains, rivers and forests – a lush terrain spanning 250 square kilometres, beautifully generated with UE4.
While the movie efficiently highlights the engine’s support for diverse topography and photoreal environments, it truly shines through an emotional storyline in which the theme ‘If you love something, set it free’ takes on a dual meaning.
During SIGGRAPH, Epic’s Nick Penwarden presented Kite during the event’s Real-Time Live! showcase. At the end of his demonstration, on behalf of Epic, Penwarden accepted the award recognising Kite for Best Real-Time Graphics and Interactivity.
Kite also appeared in the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater and the Electronic Theatre Daily Selects. Only two of the 133 films at the show were screened in both programmes.
Free for all
Epic recently released the full open world demo and the Kite cinematic for free through the Epic Games launcher to help devs take advantage of UE4’s photoreal capabilities and support for massive environments.
Realistic landscape springs to life with dynamic direct and indirect illumination, cinematic depth of field, high-quality motion blur and procedurally placed trees and foliage, all rendered in real-time.
A Boy and His Kite is proof that characters and worlds rendered in real-time can stand out amongst live action and pre-rendered performances.
Dana Cowley, Epic Games
The Unreal Engine 4.8 release notes provide a deep dive on the sheer scope and size of the gratis release, and 4.9 brings even more high-end bells and whistles at no charge.
“We’re inspired by the possibilities at hand with the convergence of film and games. A Boy and His Kite is proof that characters and worlds rendered in real-time can stand out amongst live action and pre-rendered performances,” said Epic’s Dana Cowley on the Unreal Engine blog.
As such, A Boy and His Kite is making the rounds at animation and film festivals.
Recent stops include the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival in New York, where Kite received an honourable mention award; Italy’s Capalbio Cinema International Short Film Festival, which selected Kite for the Junior Kids Award; screenings in Brazil’s Anima Mundi festival in both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo; Italy’s Castellaneta Film Fest; Kosovo’s Anibar Animation Festival; and Italy’s Imaginaria Film Festival.
New screenings of Kite are taking shape at the Fantouche International Animation Festival in Switzerland, where the cinematic is a Children’s Program Finalist, and also at the DC Shorts Film Festival in Washington, DC.
Kite is also shortlisted in the online-only Sploid Short Film Festival, for which voting is open through November 14th. With fewer than ten finalists, Sploid features one lone short film that is animated and rendered in
real-time, created by a small team of people who make games.
Film-making – and, by extension, new media, including virtual reality – is on the cusp of a revolution. Through freely available tools and content, devs have unfettered access to technology that is setting into motion a sea change.
Epic maintains that anyone with a dream that can be realised in real-time 3D can use Unreal Engine to get there.