RLCS Hype Chamber
This project unofficially started out a few years ago with us nerding out with folks from Epic about how awesome it would be to fully harness the power of Unreal Engine in broadcast / motion graphics pipelines, and brainstorming what that would look like together. Flash forward to RLCS being ready for a huge upgrade to its production value on stream, running parallel to the desire at Epic Games to create a sample project for the UE Marketplace that would demonstrate some of the amazing tools available to artists and broadcasters in that realm… and the stars aligned for us to embark on one of our favorite and most exciting projects in recent history.
The concept of the Hype Chamber became the driving force for a groundbreaking new RLCS broadcast package. It’s a virtual space that we imagine is located within the arena, which acts as a staging area for showing matchups, highlighting teams, announcing winners, and overall just building hype around the storylines and RLCS action every week.
The structure itself was originally conceived at Psyonix to serve a more limited purpose, and we were able to help evolve it into an entire interchangeable broadcast package. By refining + expanding its functionality and building it out in Unreal Engine (with tons of guidance and assistance from Epic along the way) the Hype Chamber has taken on a life of its own.
One of the coolest aspects of the Hype Chamber is how it’s able to dynamically adapt to reflect different content. The wraparound screens and foreground vehicles can quickly swap between league branding, team colors + car skins, and sponsor integration that includes custom vehicles. With each team or sponsor takeover, the whole mood of the scene changes, creating an opportunity for a high quality, curated experience each time. The screens themselves can display motion graphics content that is editable in engine, as well as footage, creating a super flexible and expandable system.
On that note, the open format of the league means that there are usually new teams competing each week. In traditional pipelines, this would either equate to a ton of additional work and rendering each time a new team is added, or it would lead to the add-on teams receiving a “less special” treatment than the established teams. With the way we've setup the Hype Chamber in UE, we can swap out logos and team colors so quickly, and instantly have new high-quality assets ready to go for that weekend’s broadcast.
The Hype Chamber also doubles as a showroom for team-specific DLC that’s available for fans to buy and use within Rocket League. The setup has a life outside of the broadcast as well, acting as a way to promote team skins on social and tie the whole experience together.
A modified version of the Hype Chamber now also physically exists at live events, using real LEDs containing outputs from our Unreal Engine scene to recreate the environment on stage. Teams are stationed on either side in front of a life-sized in-game Octane, which is often sporting a team skin, with the hallway out the field in between.
The other awesome part about this collaboration is the fact that we were able to work with Epic and Psyonix to create a version of the Hype Chamber that is available for anyone to download on the Unreal Engine Marketplace, so folks can take a look under the hood and check out how everything works. The real-time workflow has been a game changer for our pipeline, and we fully believe it’s the future, so we’re hoping that seeing it in action will help demystify the process for others – both our partners / clients and our peers.
There are a few minor differences between RLCS broadcast kit and Hype Chamber sample package, but it’s probably 95% identical in terms of functionality and overall structure. We’ve reimagined it as a fictitious racing league and modified the branding a bit in order to touch on a few other technical possibilities. For instance, in RLCS, the matchup graphic uses consistent hexagonal structures which contain 2D team logos. For the sample, we wanted to expand the functionality by also providing the base setup for having unique, 3D team logos that are interchangeable. Users will have the option to explore both methods, which will paint a more complete picture of how flexible and artist-friendly this pipeline can be.
We also incorporated a few more interchangeable graphic techniques on the Hype Chamber screens, so folks can play around with bringing in their own custom content and getting a feel for how satisfying it is to see those changes happen in real-time.
We’re so excited to see what the future holds for this kind of approach, and so thankful for the opportunity to combine our experience in the broadcast world with our real-time cinematic workflow to help chart a new course for the industry. Much love to all involved, and kudos to the whole Rocket League Esports team for embracing the technology and championing it throughout the process! And many thanks to Epic for including us in this Unreal Engine Spotlight. :)
Client: Psyonix / Epic Games
Project focus: design + animation + real-time motion graphics