An Unreal world of possibilities

Key learnings from our workshop 'How to make Unreal a Reality for your Business'

Stephen Barnes, Founding Partner at Collective explores the possibilities surrounding 3D real-time design and how it can revolutionise how we all work.

There aren't many IPA workshops where you’ll see a presenter literally move mountains. Or create lava rivers and skull castles. Or change the time of day. All while presenting.

But this is what was delivered in our recent session for the IPA; How to make Unreal a Reality for your Business - an interactive look into the rise of 3D real-time design and how it can be adopted by agencies and clients as it revolutionises how we all work.

It’s not just revolutionary because the cost-savings for advertisers are obvious at every eye-popping turn; not just because all of those annoying, feedback, rendering, logistics, materials and transport issues vanish from the production process as quickly as a lava-spewing volcano appears in front of you and not just because it cuts your carbon footprint down to almost nothing. It was also evident from the reactions of the audience, that 3D real-time design also brings the fun and joy back to creative.

As Stephane Bourez, our 3D real-time animator took a whole world we built for EE and rebuilt it again during the presentation the joy on his face and that of the audience was evident.

But, if you couldn’t make the session, here are the key learnings. And if this whets your appetite we’ll be doing another in 2024 so look out for it and sign up.

Everything is possible and everything is fun

In your mind, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what Unreal Engine is. Top-notch computer graphics, open-world exploring, yadda-yadda-yadda. It’s just the same CGI thing with knobs on, right?

No. Very no.

What hits you immediately is the immediacy. It’s one thing to suddenly decide you want to move a mountain from here to there - another entirely to then bring it to life with waterfalls, have a quick look behind it and then drag the sun across the sky for some dramatic shadow effects. In real time. Right in front of you. You think it and it happens immediately, no rendering, no debates with programmers, and no problems if you preferred it where it was after all. It’s frighteningly addictive and inspires positive, collaborative idea-sharing.

Suddenly, everything is possible and everything is fun. Drag a motorway from one side of your screen to the other; flip it around; add some traffic; change the colour; make them go in reverse. You’ll have to do all you can to stop yourself from asking if the designers can make the cars fly (they can).

Creatives gotta create

Real-time 3D engines will revolutionise advertising. That isn’t conjecture, it’s fact. The existing model can’t go on, neither for the mental health of creatives nor for the sustainability of the planet. The ruinous costs, ever-increasing time constraints and environmental impact of transporting crews around the world to build lavish one-use sets have sapped the life out of the industry.

The paradigm shifts in software and hardware were obvious to see - this is no longer a funky PC demo, this is a state-of-the-art, photo-realistic immersive experience which is there for us to use now. The advances haven’t taken us further away from being able to use them - they’ve ensured that we are in full control and that these tools work for us. The presentation showed that real-time means just that - the changes you make as creatives appear before your very eyes - no lag, no rendering, no ‘add it to the to-do list’.

Unreal might seem like a big complicated world where people throw around vaguely understood zeitgeisty phrases and leave you nodding politely, but the truth is that this is available, it’s affordable and it supercharges your creative team.

3D Design Engines work for you

A library stores your uploaded assets - a car; a carton of juice; a logo, whatever it is. Things get exciting when you realise that these aren’t vague approximations of your product - they have precisely the same colours; they catch the light in completely the same way; they have the same physics as the material you use. If you have seasonal rebranding, this can be changed almost instantaneously, meaning your print and digital ads are sorted just like that. 

There’s no need for render farms, no need for expensive mock-ups and no need for shoots. Changes can be seen by clients there and then - no idea is too out there. Dangerous, I know. The more you use it, the more it conforms to your brand - it grows exponentially. The scenes you set up and be used again and again.

Stephane Bourez, our designer who led the presentation summed it up like this:

“Unreal is creative at the speed of thought. If you’re looking over the controller's shoulder, you can do stuff on the fly, find happy accidents, and just try new things, all in real time. What would have taken days is now taking seconds, you can have a golden hour all day long and you can play God with the weather.” 

“We all know rendering is a grind. Using Unreal is like playing again. When you show people it's like when you were a kid and you’d say to your friends, come to my room and I can show you my toys.”

 Build a world in a week

And, because of all of the above it saves you time and money. It turns months into weeks and weeks into days.

Whoever it was who said they could build a world in a week - they weren’t kidding.

Quick, cheap, good, AND fun is now possible.  If you want to make Unreal a reality for your business, this is the way.

Stephen Barnes is Founding Partner at Collective.

Register your interest in our 2024 workshop


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Last updated 01 May 2024