Spielberg gets Unreal
Computer game used for A.I. mock-ups
We've heard of some novel uses for the Unreal engine, ranging from NASA's 3D walkthrough of the International Space Station to a virtual reality installation at an exhibition in Germany, but this just about takes the biscuit. According to a recent article in Film & Video Magazine, Steven Spielberg used an Unreal Tournament mod to plan out scenes for his latest big budget sci-fi movie, A.I. Apparently a member of his special effects team recreated the Rouge City set inside the game, allowing Spielberg to work out camera angles and movements in advance for "bluescreen" scenes which would feature CG backdrops added in post-production.
"It takes it out of your mind's eye and puts it down there where you can actually look at it, which is really the way that artists should be able to work", Industrial Light & Magic veteran Denis Muren told the magazine. "We were able to record the moves so Stephen actually sat there on the set before we were shooting and fiddled around with his Powerbook on his lap. He became familiar with the relationship between everything, so that a week later, when [he was] on the real set, he already was comfortable. He had already done his walkthrough and now he was walking onto his real bluescreen set."
Amusingly, Muren added that Spielberg had "very quickly picked up on how to move the camera around based on all the Unreal Tournament keyboard strokes. It's obvious he played the game a lot. He just got right into it."
So if you see a Nali war cow called [ET]Spielberg on your local Unreal Tournament server, watch out! You could be about to get a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with his shock rifle...