Netflix has released footage of Super Giant Robot Brothers!, its first animated series to use Epic Games’ Unreal Engine throughout the production.
Here’s everything we know about the giant brothers.
Super Giant Robot Brothers! Plot
Super Giant Robot Brothers! is directed by Oscar-winning (Brave) director, Mark Andrews. The 10-episode action-comedy series, developed and produced by Dallas-based Reel FX, follows two huge robots, Shiny and Thunder, who find out they are brothers while defending the world against invading Kaiju.
Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres serve as executive producers. Tommy Blacha, is also an executive producer, as are Reel FX Originals’ Jared Mass and Steve O’Brien.
Super Giant Robot Brothers! Release Date and First Look
Netflix is set to release the 10-episode series in 2022, though no date has been revealed yet.
Unreal Engine and Netflix released a behind-the-scenes video of the series, where director Mark Andrews and the team share this new experience and also share the first look of the series.
Technology Behind Super Giant Robot Brothers!
While others have attempted to employ video game engines for animation in the past, such as Unity or Unreal Engine, Reel FX is the first to develop a unique production animation pipeline that uses the Unreal Game Engine to visualize and render every component of the show. The innovative usage of the game engine by Reel FX, which mixes live-action approaches with traditional tools, makes animation more accessible.
Andrew talks about the epiphany which led to trying virtual production, and the real-time tools offered by Unreal, in the video. He says, “There’s got to be a way to get that real-time flavor of making the movie in live-action and the control that I have in animation, and put them together.”
Producer Paul Fleschner said, “This process supports the story in a visual context in a way that I have never seen before. This filmmaking team can live inside the story.”
The capacity of Unreal Engine to render characters in real-time allows for the live-action approach to animation. This allows the filmmakers to see both the performers and the animated characters at the same time, giving them the freedom to improvise and try out new ideas without slowing down the animation process.
Andrews and his DP Enrico Targetti use a virtual camera to photograph motion capture actors on a stage after the characters and locations are generated in the Unreal Engine. “We get on stage, and there is a chance to see [the scene] in action again and rewrite on the stage,” says Andrews.
“It really brought all of that immediacy of live-action into a CG show,” says Targetti.
“The biggest thing the virtual production allows us to do is to be really playful,” says Reel FX’s Unreal Operator Rey Jarrell. “You have this freedom to allow the directors and the actors to just play and see what’s available to them.”
Hours of animated footage are created from the performers’ motion-captured performances, which were developed into blueprints for the episodes throughout editing. “I get all the context of camera moves, of editing language and that’s all solved before it goes off to your traditional animated process,” says Andrews.
The animators used the mo-cap footage to create the final performances, deciding how much of it to use. “When you’re animating stuff [traditionally], you construct all that fake stuff: every hand gesture, every head movement — all this incredible tedious stuff,” says Tommy Blacha. “And this solves a lot of that.”
Unreal Engine, along with Unity, is at the forefront of the industry’s real-time rendering revolution. Hundreds of projects using Unreal, including animation productions, have received large funds from Epic.
While Andrews is an animation veteran, the producers believe Unreal opens up animation production to a wider range of filmmakers.