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As India is moving towards a technological renaissance, the target for Epic Games is to enable the market and creators in the region: Sameer Pitalwalla, Business Director- India/SEA, Epic Games

Sameer Pitalwalla, Business Director- India/SEA, Epic Games talks about Unreal Engine 4.26 (Image via Sportskeeda)
Dipanjan Dey
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 03 Apr 2021
Exclusive

Epic Games has dominated the technological sector for the better part of the last decade with Unreal Engine 4.

With the latest update - Unreal Engine 4.26 and the newest innovation MetaHuman Creator, Epic Games plans to enable the tech community with multiple educational courses and real-time support.

The need for tech cognizance and its usage is higher now than ever. Supporting this need, Unreal Engine is delivering cutting-edge content, interactive experiences, and immersive virtual worlds.

In conversation with Mr. Sameer Pitalwalla, Business Director- India/SEA, Epic Games about Unreal Engine 4.26

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda Esports’ Dipanjan Dey, Mr. Sameer Pitalwalla, Business Director India/SEA, Epic Games, talks about Unreal Engine’s business strategy and the unique innovation MetaHuman Creator.

Here is an excerpt of the conversation.

Q1) With the release of the revolutionary Unreal Engine 4.26, what kind of paradigm shift are designers, content creators, and gaming studios looking at? What are the benefits it offers with its advanced designing tools?

Sameer Pitalwalla - It is not as much a paradigm shift as it is building on the great work that has already been done on 4.25.

So if you look at it in 4.26, Epic Games have added a whole bunch of new duals, which extend the ability for creators to craft, like really believable, real environments and characters for games, films, and TV, visualization and training, and simulation.

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So it continues the advancements that Unreal Engine sort of leading virtual production toolset has brought to the market, which includes high-quality media output, improved design review tools, and a whole bunch of other features.

Q2)The new Virtual Camera 2.0 inside Unreal Engine 4.26 offers nothing but the best quality of the seamless visual simulation. How will this impact the rapidly growing need for a “Photorealistic environment” in video games, movies, and designing?

Sameer Pitalwalla - I mean, what we at Epic Games are doing is that we are allowing anybody to get access to these, rich toolsets, which allow what we believe is a "Hollywood" level quality of production capabilities, but you can get access to them anywhere in the world.

So Epic Games also added a whole bunch of other things, 4.26 also includes a new volume metric cloud component that can interact with, you know, sky atmosphere, skylight, up to two-directional lights.

And, any user can get them. Epic Games are looking at democratizing all these toolsets and giving all of this access to regular folks.

Q3) Epic Games promises to not compromise with the quality of these Metahuman 3D characters which are quickly delivered within the hour. What kind of tech support can an independent designer or a gaming production can expect from the creators of Unreal Engine?

Sameer Pitalwalla - Absolutely because these are all free. Like for example, we created this really cool hair and fur system, which is production-ready in Unreal Engine 4.26, and that's something which the Beta did an incredible job of demoing and that whole project Epic Games gave away for free on the marketplace.

If you are a creator, you can just download it and you can learn how it was done. You can play around with it. Then if there are any individuals or whether you're a large team of hundreds of people, everybody has access to the same tools and they're all available for free for monthly use.

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So that again is something that Epic Games have included. There's a whole list of features that we have actually now created and we can easily see what those new features are by Googling the 4.26 feature log. This comes with the Epic Games guarantee and is free for everybody to use.

Q4) From a popular culture perspective, Unreal Engine opens up numerous untapped avenues for designers and creators. How would this work in a country like India which has a rich repository of historical epics, folklore, war narratives? Will Epic Games pave the path for better character-based story-driven entertainment with Unreal Engine? Perhaps a Mahabharata video game, which the Indian gaming community would definitely love!

Sameer Pitalwalla - Yeah, I think that is absolutely possible, you know, let's see. I mean, like with any tool, it begins depends on the dexterity of how good you are as a user with it. But the idea really is that we at Epic Games are giving you access to creating really high fidelity, digital human characters.

So the important part is that you can do it on a regular machine because you're essentially doing it in a browser.

Yeah. I think the great part about these tools is that they have the ability for anybody to use them, regardless of how big or small their shop is. As long as they can learn, they'll be in a good spot.

And more importantly, you have access to pretty much the cutting edge of world technology available to anybody, whether you are Indian, Indonesian, or Sri Lankan, you can have your own versions of Ravana you can create.

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Q5) There is also the question of knowledge, and most importantly where to gather it from. What kind of technical support independent developers, game designers, animators, YouTubers, and movie-makers using Unreal Engine can expect from Epic Games?

Sameer Pitalwalla - Here at Epic Games we have really good documentation on our websites, and we also have something called the Unreal Developer Network (UDN), which is essentially almost like a support forum where you have access to a lot of FAQ's, which are also that related to the engine or related to any of our tools.

So UDN is an incredibly powerful platform for Epic Games where we direct our developers to go over that, that they can. And, you know, it's something that we currently depending on kind of company and it's fairly easy to access it.

UDN is one of the closest things Epic Games can kind of offer to on-demand support. And the other part is obviously the great level of documentation that we have.

There's also a huge community of YouTube creators who offer really good tools. I was just in the morning on a call with a community. And, you know, one of the creators had learned everything by combining knowledge from Epic Games, YouTube and unreal engine.com, which is our website where you can go and learn anything yourself.

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So I think these three combinations of UDN support forums and documentation along with, all the great courses being offered by Epic Games on unrealengine.com as well as YouTube, I think is a good combination for anybody looking for help.

And of course, we are always there, if any individual wants to reach out, Epic Games is always there for them. There's also some really good support forums on WhatsApp that we run in India. There are three or four user community groups. So I see a lot of people asking questions over there and learning over there, in case they face any issue.

Q6) Moving on from tech support to real-time guidance, how does Epic Games propose to use Unreal Engine as an incisive tool to educate content creators and designers?

Sameer Pitalwalla - I mean, at Epic Games we have courses which are deep. There's one-on-one learning in Unreal Engine.com. Over there you will get everything from animation to production, to game engines.

We also have courses that help learners to experiment with architecture, engineering, construction; all these courses are varied.

It depends on what you want to do with Unreal Engine, Epic Games is always readily available with the support.

So that's sort of one module that you can go to learn at unreal engine.com and do any course, which you feel is applicable.

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The other is that you can, you know, in India Epic Games are offering life courses, life training. So that's another thing which in case you want to reach out if anybody wants those, they reach out to us.

And then we add them to online batches where there's a live tutor who trains them up. And again, in that case, the training differs for a variety of sectors.

So this training for gaming M&E, simulation training. There's a lot of training depending on the kind of category that the audience is looking to learn.

Q7) After the spectacular success of Raji: An Ancient Epic, Indian developers have a new example to follow for designing on Unreal Engine. But there is an educational gap as you mentioned with respect to the functionality of Unreal Engine. How does Epic Games plan to bridge this gap with the innovative tools on display?

Sameer Pitalwalla - Tools have to be at the exact ones, which everybody has access to globally when it comes to Epic Games, right?

Anybody has access to the same sort of downloadable file that, Unreal Engine depending on where you come from.

Epic Games is trying to bridge the gap by offering a lot more training, which we globally don't offer for free, but over here we are offering it for free. This can be extremely beneficial and time-efficient as developers can learn quickly and begin to increase their skillset.

Q8) Statistically, India's soaring gaming industry is valued at $930 million, and is number one in the world. With the help of Unreal Engine, will content creators, designers, and game developers be able to tell stories that have long remained untold, or have been lost in history?

Sameer Pitalwalla - Yeah, I think so. You see the important part is that it's incredibly expensive to create this rich history of India in real life like you said right?

Like if you are to produce it, whether it's a film or a game, these are extremely expensive endeavors are not easy to make.

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But, with Unreal Engine, you will be able to do that in a far more effective way in a far more cheaper way, in a far more faster way with higher quality.

I mean, we really hope so. Epic Games plans to continue pushing the education of the sector so that they can begin to create this in terms of high-quality content, which is equal to global standards.

That is something that Indian content creators, designers, and independent studios all around the globe would appreciate.

Q9) Digressing into the multitude of possibilities, brought to the table by Unreal Engine one cannot but wonder how it would affect television, cinema, and the art of movie-making. Especially in India where the demand for high-octane action sequences and CGI-driven narratives are at an all-time high. How will Epic Games lead the way with Unreal Engine in this aspect?

Sameer Pitalwalla - Well, the thing with the Metahuman creators that is not really focused on de-aging a lot, like what was done with the Irishman. It is certainly not the core focus of what MetaHuman Creator does.

The idea of MetaHuman creators is to create very high-quality, digital human beings - that resemble human beings. These designable Metahumans can be altered to suit any situation.

So the point is that the idea is not as much to de-age existing characters as much as to create new characters.

The possibilities are endless, whether it is action movies or video games, with proper guidance, anyone can create anything in Unreal Engine.

Q10) Virtual tech simulation and its role in India have become more important than ever. Unreal Engine can become one of the instrumental tools that have various applications. How will this impact sectors like AEC, Virtual Production, Entertainment, and Automotive in India?

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Sameer Pitalwalla - Over the last five to six years, Game engine technology is being used in every sector from automotive to AEC, to simulation. In the case of automotive, we have had clients like BMW, which are doing fabulous work for me, doing product configurators right now to showrooms. In several sectors, autonomous driving simulations are being done inside of Unreal Engine.

Similarly, in architecture, engineering, and construction, we have had great case studies, right from Zaha Hadid to Steelcase using it to not just simulate buildings, but also to simulate full cities, as well as digital twins of everything from airports to large construction sites. So game engines in general and real-time technologies going far beyond gaming into media and entertainment, but also for all of this variety of other sectors such as the ones that do highlight.

Q11) In conclusion, India is moving towards a technological renaissance and the next few years will be quintessential for its development. How does Epic Games plan to capitalize on the burgeoning market to improve it with the tools of the future?

Sameer Pitalwalla - India is moving towards a technological renaissance, I would absolutely agree, and Epic Games is going to do its best to help.

I think for the first time with, you know, access to devices, access to broadband and access to tools with like Unreal Engine, with the large sort of population that we have, which is young and also a rich history, like you rightly pointed out, of a great number of stories, mythologically, I think we have the right opportune time to create high-quality stories and worlds, not just it needs, but for globally everyone.

I mean, in the sense of applying this, you need to enable the market. The target for Epic Games is to enable the market creators in our region with Unreal Engine. Enable them with access to the same quality of tools, the same quality of education, and the same opportunities to the extent that we can that people globally have it.

Published 03 Apr 2021, 11:30 IST
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