Mark Flanagan, Education Partner Manager at Epic Games, company based in Cary, North Carolina, met the jurors and dreamers of the Giffoni Dream Team
SIt seems like a century has passed since we enjoyed recreating realistic but virtual lives thanks to such iconic simulation projects like The Sims, or entire worlds reproduced in multiplayer thanks to Second Life. A future with hyper-realistic faces that can easily be mistaken for the real one and new worlds created entirely with computer graphics has already come. Mark Flanagan, Education Partner Manager at well-known Epic Games, based in Cary, North Carolina, discussed it with Giffoni Dream Team members during the Giffoni Impact format.
Flanagan, whose CV also includes collaborations with mega productions such as Star Wars, Marvel films and futuristic productions such as Blade Runner 2049, started with what Epic Games is all about. One name above all? The award-winning online game Fortnite has changed the rules of multiplayer and over the past five year has gathered more than 350 million accounts with over 3.2 million hours spent by players around the world.
It was a short journey from being a former architect to creating entire CG worlds. He talked to the guys about all those new technologies, including the futuristic Unreal Engine 5, which allows you to entirely reconstruct real environments into complete, self-contained worlds.
‘’The film industry is moving more and more in the direction of virtuality,” explained Flanagan, speaking about the union between industry, cinema and new technologies. – In all its forms: from totally recreated cinema in CG (Computer Graphics) to Mixed Reality, which means the interaction between real actors and computer-generated environments or characters, to new techniques such as the LED wall, where scenes are reproduced in studios with a single large semi-circular screen that surrounds an actor. As for AI, artificial intelligence, we see the example of Ready Player One, Spielberg’s film, which tells us what the Metavsiverse will actually be like. A world that will use all the Unreal Engine technology, hyper-realism and everything else that’s coming in the future to recreate a world where everyone will have opportunities. A more egalitarian world, where those who cannot travel in the real world will be able to travel in it thanks to new technology. There are thousands of possibilities in the Metaworld. One of them? Communicating with others in real time thanks to the absence of language barriers and simultaneous translation. It will be a world that users will recreate by themselves, also thanks to the huge databases that we at Epic Games also try to make available. Not just to big companies, but to anyone who wants to use it.
At the end of the presentation, it was the turn of the jury’s questions.
“What will the actor’s role be in this future?” – asked one of them. ‘The actor’s role in this new future will always remain the same,’ Flanagan replied, ‘Of course, there are great challenges in shooting on the green screen or with motion capture. But there are also many actors who are specialising in this area. Think about films like Planet of the Apes or Lord of the Rings with Gollum (Andy Serkis, ed.). I don’t think the actor’s figure will disappear, but simply evolve“.
There was also a question about the fear that such ‘meta-universes’ might cause alienation or addiction.
“The aim of worlds like Metaverse, for example, is precisely to open up to new acquaintances, perhaps many miles apart, and to create communities between real people with different experiences, even if the interaction takes place in a virtual world.”