Rocky Shi on Why Unreal Engine Represents the Future of Virtual Production

Everyone from the streaming giants to the major motion picture studios has started to rely on a new piece of technology when it comes to film and television production: Unreal Engine. This 3D software, initially developed for video games, has already made an impact in Hollywood, and will continue to overtake outdated methods of visual effects production like greenscreen. 

Rocky Shi, founder and CEO of Rise Entertainment and longtime entertainment investor, sees Unreal Engine as the future of virtual production. From the software’s origins in the video game industry to its key role in every aspect of production, read on to learn why Unreal Engine is making waves.  

What Is Unreal Engine?

First, it’s important to understand the history of Unreal Engine and its impact on game development. The software debuted in the late 1990s, created by the founder of Epic Games as an engine to assist in the production of a first-person shooter game. The software has since gone through several iterations and updates, resulting in the latest version of the software, Unreal Engine 5. 

It’s been used to design a number of popular video games, such as Fortnite and Gears of War. With the launch of the Unreal Engine Marketplace in 2014, developers began to be able to upload and share content and tutorials. The latest version of Unreal also allows for the importation of 3D objects and environments, as well as realistic shadow mapping. This has opened the doors for intensely detailed video games but also paved the way for the use of Unreal Engine in film production.

Beyond Video Games

As Unreal Engine has evolved over the decades, developers have become keenly aware of its uses beyond video games. There are many ways in which the software can be used in film production, some of which are just starting to be used, Rocky Shi explained.

By using massive LED screens paired with Unreal Engine, some productions began to experiment with this new technology instead of using traditional greenscreen sets. Westworld and The Mandalorian were among the first shows to do so. Now, as the technology has proved to be more efficient than greenscreen, many Hollywood productions are adapting AR wall-style sets.

Additionally, Unreal Engine has allowed for an evolution of motion capture, where actors are filmed and later layered with special effects in post-production. Advancements in facial recognition technology allow for these SFX to be applied in real-time, as Unreal Engine allows cameras to track mocap markers on an actor’s body.

The Future of TV & Film

Beyond these specific technical applications, using Unreal Engine has a benefit on overall workflow for almost every department. It allows for faster creation of concept art and storyboarding, as pre-production artists can quickly render ideas and pull from large preexisting libraries of images and scenes. 

Unreal Engine also puts the power back in the hands of individual creators — whereas many animators or filmmakers may have previously needed the power of an entire studio to create a pitch for their film, they can now use the tools offered by Unreal Engine to bring their ideas to life. This, Rocky Shi says, will even the playing field for smaller artists in the industry.

As Unreal Engine continues to update, and developers and creators share their insights in Unreal Engine Marketplace, it will only become a more useful tool not only for gamers but for Hollywood. By establishing new, more efficient workflows and replacing outdated tech, Unreal Engine represents the future of the film industry.

More Women are Getting Back to Work Following the Ease of Covid Restrictions

The pandemic has shut down businesses and forced many out of the labor force. People of all genders had to scramble to make ends meet while the government strictly enforced the lockdown protocols. However, now that the restrictions have been eased, many individuals are reentering the labor market. Companies are now seeing a surge in women returning to work, and here’s what they think.

After spending her time mostly inside her house with her children, Qynisha Jordan is happy to be going back to work. It has been two years since she let go of her job as an account manager at PepsiCo Atlanta because of the pandemic.

“The best part has definitely been having conversations with adults and adult interaction. That’s been awesome,” she said.

“I vividly remember when the school called and said they were closing school. And from then on, I was at home. It was really difficult. I had three children who were doing three completely different things, all at the same time. It was a lot,” Jordan recalled.

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Jordan is just one of the 2 million women who left their posts in the wake of the pandemic. Like others, she waited for the perfect time to rejoin the labor force since women had to take care of a myriad of things, such as their sick families, children, and others.

The massive layoff of women increased companies’ fears two and a half years ago. Workers quitting their jobs meant businesses had to deal with a labor shortage, which could damage the economy in the long run. Economists and policymakers feared that the trend would continue and women would choose not to go back. However, the opposite happened, and women are now back on track.

“Women had a very tough road to haul with kids working from home and with school being so uncertain. But we’re seeing that the pandemic did not do permanent damage to women’s attachment to the labor force,” said an economist from the University of Michigan, Betsey Stevenson.

The economy pressures laborer to get back

Statistics show that last month, the volume of women looking for jobs increased. As per the tally, around 49 million women aged 25 to 54 are reentering the labor market. The figure represents a greater number than the number of workers in February 2020, before the lockdowns were implemented. Moreover, Black and Latina women seem to dominate the group looking for work.

Stevenson indicated two major factors that are pushing women back into the labor force. One is more free time on their hands as children are now going back to school due to resumed face-to-face classes. And two is the high rate of inflation, causing prices to skyrocket. Ultimately, women who do not earn enough need to find other avenues of income to combat the rising prices of groceries, gas, and other services.

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“People are being sort of pushed by the rising prices to think, ‘Ugh, my savings are getting hit a little bit too hard.’ And instead of being out there spending their money, they’re going back to work to earn money,” added Stevenson.

“We needed to adjust to a new normal. Maybe one reason we’re seeing people go back to work is they’ve been trying to figure out how to adjust, and they’re reaching some conclusions about how to do it — how to balance it all.”

Big Brother fame Influencer Oleg Astakhov makes it big with his ballroom dancing and Fred Astaire Dance Studio

With the endless opportunities the unique world of dance has created room for passionate individuals who want to make a mark in the dance industry. On the Polish “TV Big Brother” show, even decades of expertise is no guarantee that you’ll win the trophy. But when it comes to Oleg Astakhov, who has been dancing pretty much since his childhood, it really didn’t hurt when he didn’t win the show. People who are at the forefront of the dance industry will take you more seriously, if you can bring clear cut value to the table. Oleg Astakhov does just that and the “TV Big Brother” show helped him in becoming a popular face that he needed initially.

Oleg is now even a popular internet celebrity on YouTube and Instagram. Some of his dance videos and tutorials have received more than 36 million views. He uses his huge following on social handles to connect with people and spread his messages, which could possibly make a change. To fulfill the purpose to help people learn dance in a better way, in 2020, he stepped up and opened Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Arcadia California, the biggest franchise studios in the world.

In an interview, Oleg shared that “he believes that it’s not your failures that will define your future, but it’s how you choose to respond to them.” Behind his dream-come-true Fred Astaire Dance Studio is a journey through the bumpy road of several challenges. His success really didn’t come on a silver platter, he has spent years mastering the Latin American dances. 

Oleg already holds the keys to his own empire with his ballroom dance. There are several dancers, who have the dance talent but they really lack entrepreneurial capabilities. He is an exception and has found a unique way to shape and build his own field with ballroom dancing by starting Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Arcadia. He understands that the prevalence of dance talent in the modern age has taken a major cultural role, when you can reach the audience, when you use dance for the fun of it. 

His background illustrates just how passionate and talented he really is and as the Ballroom Dance industry is already set to garner multi-million revenue, he is ready with Fred Astaire Dance Studio to take advantage of it. Today, his Fred Astaire Dance Studio is one of the most successful dance studios in Arcadia, with several followers and satisfied clients. Such statistics are concrete; they solidify the success story of his dance empire that he is looking to build. 

In addition to his dance studio, he runs a successful “Dance With Oleg“, that offers online courses to help dancers in staying up to date with the newest dance trends. This online platform could not have come at a better time, given that everyone was cooped up inside their homes due to the pandemic and dancing services and facilities were unavailable. 

Oleg can definitely play an incredibly powerful role in building out massively credible dance footprints. No matter how hard things become, he always has a master plan.  He channeled his dancing skills and combined his entrepreneurial acumen towards making the world a much better place. One thing is for sure, however the dance space changes, it is certain that Oleg Astakhov will be there, leading the charge.