Korea’s CJ ENM Pacts With Epic on Game Engine and Virtual Production (EXCLUSIVE)

CJ ENM, the Korean entertainment group behind last year’s “Parasite,” is to build its first real time virtual production studio, having struck a deal with Epic Games, maker of “Fortnite,” to develop virtual production.

The arrangement means using Epic’s ‘Unreal Engine’ game engine technology in CJ ENM’s potential future projects. The studio will be located in Paju, Gyeonggi Province and be equipped with a massive LED wall.

Unreal Engine has established itself as the leading 3D engine used in the development and production of video games. Now, pioneered by series like “The Mandalorian,” virtual production is increasingly being used in film and television production by Hollywood studios.

The technology can efficiently produce high-fidelity real-time rendering and allow actors, cinematographer and VFX staff to work interactively and simultaneously – unlike traditional production where lighting, performance and effects work are done sequentially. Virtual production can also save on crew travel, insert multiple digital backdrops, and simplify pick-up shots without the need to rebuild physical sets.

“The use of Unreal Engine will be a huge benefit to our on-set production,” said Kim Sang Yeop, head of CJ ENM’s content R&D center. “In a plethora of media, our effort to bring virtual production will push forward the creation of the next-generation content.”

CJ and its Studio Dragon offshoot have become major producers of Korean TV series that are increasingly being watched by global audiences. Its recent output includes “Crash Landing on You” and “Hotel Del Luna.”

“We hope that CJ ENM’s globally recognized content competence benefits from Unreal Engine to further grow its presence in the global market,” said Ray Park, territory manager of Epic Games Korea.

Leading Hollywood studios have grown increasingly interested in virtual production. Sony last year paid $250 million for a 1.4% strategic stake in Epic Games, valuing the company at nearly $18 billion. A year earlier, Sony bought virtual production startup Nurulize, incorporating it into its Sony Innovation Studios unit.

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