Crytek develops animation production tool

Videogame company hopes Cinebox leads to biz convergence

Crytek is a leader when it comes to graphics engines for videogames, but now it’s hoping to expand into film and TV.

The developer, responsible for such tentpole games as “Far Cry” and “Crysis,” is nearing completion on a production tool called Cinebox, which will streamline the creation of animation for any form of media.

Digital Domain and Fox already have alpha versions of the product and are evaluating it for unannounced projects. And Crytek founder, CEO and president Cevat Yerli told Variety that eight others, whom he declined to identify, are also trying out the tool.

“It allows people to explore ideas faster,” Yerli said. “We think Cinebox will revolutionize the way of pipelining the creative process. … For the first time ever, technically, in the production process, you can build the whole movie out for a fraction of the cost.”

Yerli describes Cinebox as a “real time film engine” that uses some of the creative mechanics of the videogame industry to enable filmmakers to render everything from animation and CGI to digitally inserted backgrounds in nearly real time.

“A game engine is not enough to do what a film needs, but for lack of better tools, Hollywood has navigated to game engines,” Yerli said.

To emphasize the difference, the language of Cinebox is tailored to filmmakers rather than gamemakers and lets them quickly adjust crucial elements like lighting and shadows. Yerli expects to have a licensing program in place for the tool within the next three months.

For Crytek, Cinebox is more than just to get a way to get a foot in Hollywood’s door. Crytek, after all, is primarily a game company, and Yerli said he hopes streamlining the tools used by both industries can lead to a closer working relationship between the two.

“My personal drive in this is to push transmedia,” Yerli said. “Transmedia has been a topic for years — and people talk about it as games and filmmakers converging, but it truly was just licensing. In my opinion, the convergence of interactive and non-interactive media happens only if the underlying technology is the same or very similar, so the creative process can share assets and share technology know-how. So your technical and asset investment becomes similar.”