Boom! It's a knockout. Underknown's VS will hit you with a bang, driving fight scene action to the max with innovative Unreal Engine workflows.
On-screen, each episode of VS pits two hero characters against each other to do battles of epic proportion. But behind the scenes, this exhilarating knockout show is a collaborative happy dance between Underknown’s real-life heroes.
Showrunner Carter deLaat and Unreal Engine Generalist and Animator Ivan Reel are some of the great minds behind VS.
Carter, along with Development Producer Taylor Moyle tried VS out against other productions in the works at the time, but VS crushed its competitors in show testing.
“A lot of it was presentation and tone,” says Carter. “We just started treating it like a sports show, doing it with the high-octane energy of a wrestling show or a competition.”
“There ended up being the audience for those kinds of intense battles. You get a double-bill of science and education, but it’s all wrapped up in this over-the-top and fun, action-packed show. That gave it a life of its own.”
Behind VS is the video game engine, Unreal. Developed by Epic Games in the mid-1990s, Unreal allows visual artists to bring 3-D digital creations to life. Epic designed the engine for first-person PC gaming, but Unreal has taken the film and TV industries by storm. Top creators even use it on shows like Westworld and The Mandalorian. What’s unique about this technology is that it can track camera motion and render shots in real-time around actors’ movements. In the case of VS, Unreal takes traditional VFX software and creates real-time visual productions for our showrunning.
“In the last two years, major studios have identified concurrent technologies in visual capacity. Giant screen technology and LED technology driven by a game engine has allowed for studios, instead of doing green screen, they can now shoot all that live footage real-time,” says animator Ivan Reel. “The actors and the talent interact with a full visual vista of their environment.”
On VS, we witness a blend of Unreal Engine visual animation, licensed footage and dynamic narration by Hans Wackershauser that could give WWE commentary a run for its money.
It’s incredible how much teamwork goes into a show that represents dueling it out against your opponents.
Ivan says he’s “just a cog” in the VS machine. “And, honestly, that’s declarative of how this show gets off the ground. Carter’s vision is amazing with how we want to tell whatever story it is in VS universe. Production starts with her, and then a script will get made. I’ll read the script and talk to Carter several times and say this is what I can pull off in the timeframe we have.”
Over 24-48 hours, Ivan will put together anywhere from five to 40 shots to bring the VS visual package to life. Using a combination of his own animation and licensed content to illustrate hypothetical knockouts, Ivan says what makes VS work is putting trust in the team. Each person fulfilling their role brings the VS vision together.
“When I do these scenes or shots, I’m isolated in my work-from-home studio doing it,” Ivan says. “I don’t know how it’s going to end up when it gets into the hands of the editor or voiceover, as directed by Carter. So when I get the final product, I’m like, ‘ah, that’s so good,'” he laughs. “As I watch the episode, I am grinning ear to ear at how well it comes together.”
Ivan sees this as only the beginning of what Underknown could do with Unreal Engine technology.
What’s next for the VS brand? We are learning but understand the real-time technology, so the future is merely a matter of creativity and innovation in what stories we want to tell.
“Underknown, even in its name, screams metaverse,” says Ivan. “All of that thematic content that we’re creating really could live in the metaverse. How we get there is definitely through Unreal. Instead of being on a flat-screen or mobile presentation, now you’re in the middle of a fight scene with imminent VR and AR eyewear coming to market. You’re part of the action. That’s where I want to go.”
Do you want to see Justin Bieber fight an ostrich? (okay, not yet, but maybe one day). VS is now on our website. Unfortunately, Biebs VS Ostrich doesn’t exist, but you can see some truly epic knockouts, including Tarantula VS Scorpion and more, on the internet’s greatest fight show.
Check all the possibilities here.