Leveraging Atoms Crowd Simulation in Unreal Engine with Live-Action Footage

Finding unique ways to teach and integrate real-time technologies into a studio setting is commonplace at The DAVE School.  When developing the most recent project, The Mad Scientist, for the final semester game production class, they wanted to incorporate a large crowd with live-action sequences that they would be filming on set. Atoms Unreal presented itself as the best solution for combining crowd simulations quickly in engine with the live-action footage.

Atoms Unreal is a powerful, cross-application, skeleton based crowd simulation tool that is made by the company, ToolChefs.  Founded by former developers of crowd sim tools at MPC and Framestore, Daniele Federico and Alan Stanzione.  They’ve leveraged their years of expertise in VFX animation to develop a real-time tool that is user friendly, extensible, and has robust support for the blueprint system inside Unreal Engine.

Atoms Unreal is the first commercial solution for Unreal Engine that supports skeleton instancing as well as skeletal meshes with any number of joints and legs. Because of this skeleton based simulation method, animations retain their high quality and integrity.

“It has been a pleasure to work with The Dave School on this project and we are happy to know they were able to achieve what they had to do easily.In the coming months we are looking into implementing a better USD workflow as well as Behaviour Tree support in Unreal Engine,” offers Daniele Federico.

“We really wanted to try and push the envelope of what could be done in Unreal this semester,” says Jason Embury, Instructor of Real-Time Technologies & Pipelines at The DAVE School. “Building on the success we saw from our last virtual production, we wanted to switch things up and key greenscreen footage in the engine, combining it with full 3D environments and large crowds. This project has given the students a chance to learn and use Atoms Unreal in a production pipeline, while learning how to build virtual sets to be used in filming live action.”

Partnering with ToolChefs has been a great experience for the gaming students at the DAVE School, and continues our rich history of establishing working relationships with companies at the forefront of the game and VFX industries.