How Fortnite Played an Integral Part in BBC’s Coverage of Tokyo Olympics 2020

Published 08/15/2021, 9:46 AM EDT


As the 2020 Olympics conclude, so does BBC wrap up its coverage of the games. It seems like BBC has taken the help of Fortnite in their broadcast, which might leave the viewers awestruck!

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BBC reveals that instead of flying out their presenters to Tokyo because of the ongoing pandemic, they did their broadcast for the event using Fortnite’s Unreal Engine. Everything that the viewers saw on the screen, from the glowing Tokyo Skyline to the fish swimming around in the garden, was simulated and rendered via the game engine.

The technology of Fortnite helped Tokyo Olympics 2020

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In a ‘Behind the Scenes Tour’ of the studio, BBC presenter Dan Walker and Sam Quek explain how their studio optimized the game engine to emulate and render backgrounds. Dan White said, “Many people assumed we were actually live from Tokyo, but because of the pandemic, the obvious travel restrictions and the uncertainty that came with all that, we’ve done things slightly differently,” as reported by NME.

He later revealed that they broadcasted the entire programme from Salford behind a Green Screen. The only proper objects were the chairs, the floors and the metal tables.

“It rendered the set from the same engine that produces Fortnite,” adds Dan Walker, hinting towards the ‘Unreal Engine. Sam Quek further explained how the image rendering process worked in real-time.

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Dan Walker then talks about the projection of ‘ghost images’ on the screen which are invisible to the viewers. However, this image helps the presenters while interviewing the athletes in Tokyo Olympics while the entire crew was hidden using ‘Virtual Masking’.

Unreal Engine in the entertainment industry

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While Unreal Engine is an integral part of games such as Fortnite, it is also extensively used in the entertainment industry. Movies like Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, War of the Planet of the Apes, Ford v Ferrari and the Disney series Mandalorian are all known to have used this game engine in their production process. Epic indeed can produce real-time renderings, visualizations and animations with extreme realism using the Unreal Engine.

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Siddid Dey Purkayastha

126 articles

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