EPIC Games launched the EPIC Games Megagrants in 2019 to service and assist game developers or other enterprise professionals, media and entertainment creators, students, and tool developers doing outstanding work with Unreal Engine.
Epic Megagrants project
Time Changes Everything is an Epic Megagrants project conducted by EFLA Consulting Engineers. The company has been developing solutions using the Unreal Engine and its "offspring", Twinmotion, since 2017.
EFLA started its Epic Megagrants Journey in 2019 after an Unreal Academy conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. The conference had been an eye-opener in so many ways, and one of them was a chance to apply for an Epic Megagrant. The application process took nearly 12 months, and when the team received the news about their application being accepted, to say they were ecstatic would be the understatement of the year. EFLA's track record with new media solutions was the reason for this grant. The acceptance email came in late 2020 with the world immersed in uncertainty, and in a world full of news of isolation and restrictions, we were looking forward to our Epic journey.
After finalizing the paperwork, the team decided on the necessary locations for the project. The original idea was to go to two farms destroyed by natural disasters.
As the team grew more confident in the photogrammetry process and the models started coming out nicer and nicer, the ideas flowed. The team used EPIC's Reality Capture to process all the models in the project. Around that same time, Twinmotion (another fine EPIC Games product) started taking up more time in other in-house projects. The team decided it would make the most sense to use the power of Twinmotion to present the project since it would play into many of our strengths as a civil engineering company. Other teams inside the company then became excited about Twinmotion, seeing the efficiency of the workflow and especially impressed with the possibility of integrating data from other AEC (architecture-engineering-construction) software; this looked like a perfect match.
The finished product, "Time changes everything", developed from the original idea, which was to use two historical areas and show how natural disasters (flooding and volcanic fallout) ruined them and focus instead on a tranquil place in the centre of Reykjavik city, Iceland. Our location is the Einar Jónsson Museum in Reykjavik. It is a haven of art and peace in the heart of the city. It celebrates the art and life of Iceland's first sculptor. It is also one of the city's best-kept secrets. The Einar Jónsson museum is notoriously difficult to access if people have any kind of disability, so we were very happy to have digital twins of all the inside of the museum as well.
About the video
We use the changing of the seasons to show the passing of time. If this is your first time going to Iceland, you might think that this is supposed to mean time changing over months, but Iceland can experience all the seasons within one hour. A local joke is: "If you don't like the weather, just wait for fifteen minutes".
For the assets, the team used drones and cameras. The sculptures were individually captured, processed, and scaled to fit the real world. The museum and its surroundings were captured using an enterprise-level drone (DJI Matrice 300 RTK). The data was then processed using Reality Capture, and minor tweaking was done inside Autodesk Maya and Pixologic's Z-Brush. It is possible to view a few of the sculptures in the garden on EFLA's Sketchfab account (another fine Epic product).
Key takeaways from the project
One thing we learned while working on this project is the importance of being open to new opportunities and directions for your project. The generosity of Epic Games helped us bring Digital Twins to the AEC space in Iceland. We see a strong demand for our services in this field, largely thanks to the fact that something like "Time changes everything" is not a clear-cut moneymaker but a way for people to visit a museum like the Einar Jónsson Museum regardless of location and mobility.
The team at EFLA is grateful for the opportunity to finally present this project. We use a host of different platforms to allow the viewer to see the various components that went into making it. Most of them are either directly developed by Epic Games or are developed by industry veterans. It is especially interesting to be able to show a museum such as the Einar Jónsson to a worldwide audience, across borders and what's even more important is the fact that this particular museum is especially had to view from the inside if people have any sort of mobility impediment. Our initial plans were to deliver the project sooner, but with the pivot in story, we felt that it was needed to postpone our delivery date. We would like to thank the Megagrants team at Epic games for their support and the staff at the Einar Jónsson museum and at the Þórbergssetur museum staff for their help when we visited them. Our colleagues at EFLA get special thanks for their help and questions.