Dublin-based electronic artist Noisestorm a.k.a. Eoin O’Brion splits his days between making electronic music and working on game development. Of late, O’Brion’s 3D computer-generated designs have been bleeding over into his Noisestorm work, with the artist creating all of album and single artwork on Unreal Engine. It’s O’Brion’s attempt to bring an “open world”-type gamer universe to his music and visual art.
O’Brion began working with Unreal Engine 4 in 2014, a few months after it launched. He tells The Creators Project that he immediately fell in love with the editor as well as the extremely powerful AAA toolset. His current work with Unreal Engine has more in common with photography than game design. The images, which lie on the same continuum as Ollie Ma’s photo-realistic GTA V photo series, are all about impeccably designed and framed scenes, from a forested mountainside to a dimly-lit interior hallway.
“I'm aiming to create content that looks as real as a photograph or a video, but that is running at 60 FPS in real time,” O’Brion explains. “I'm still way off from that goal, but certainly have been making progress over the last two years.”
O’Brion is undertaking this with Unreal Engine because it now allows designers to make environments look extremely realistic. It’s not only game designers that are making use of the game engine, but artists and filmmakers as well.
“I think this is super exciting since up until the introduction of PBR (physically-based rendering) in game engines, the quality gap between film/offline renders and realtime games was very apparent,” O’Brion says. “Now, with careful planning and very close attention to detail and lighting, it's more than possible to achieve photorealistic realtime visuals running at very performant frame rates.”
It is O’Brion’s love of film and games, but also his ambition to create worlds that do not exist but easily could, that inspired his recent album art. Originally inspired by the work of user Koola on the UE4 forums, O’Brion began to craft his own photorealistic imagery. “Unreal Engine provides an extremely capable toolset for rendering, lighting, shading, scripting and adding much more to your scene,” says O’Brion. “It essentially is the backbone that takes all of the input assets (geometry, animations, textures, music, sound, etc.) and allows you to use them to create a scene and materials and lighting setups which all come together to make the final result after much tweaking. Without the engine, all you have is the pieces, and nothing to assemble them in.”
In addition to Unreal Engine, O’Brion uses Maya, ZBrush, Photoshop, World Machine, Quixel Suite, GrowFX and other programs to input assets. O’Brion insists, “Often people mistake photorealistic realtime demos to be way more demanding graphically than most other titles out right now, but really it just comes down to careful optimization and the choices you make when creating the scene.”