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Nickelodeon Announces Its First TV Show Created With a Game Engine

Nickelodeon is embracing real-time production technologies with a new TV show that is being created with a game engine. “Meet the Voxels,” as the show is working-titled, is based on work done at the Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab, the network’s R&D unit for AR & VR. It is being developed to air across Nickelodeon’s channels around the world.

“Meet the Voxels” is about the life of a family of video game characters, including a Street Fighter Mom, a bubble-popping teenage girl, a 13-year old who is the star of a laser-tag game, a retired arcade game dad and a younger brother in search of a game franchise of his own.

The show is being written by Jana Petrosini and Sean Gill, who both have previously worked on “Henry Danger,” “Kid Danger” and “Game Shakers.” It was conceived by Chris Young, SVP of of Nickelodeon’s Entertainment Lab (pictured above).

Nickelodeon unveiled its Entertainment Lab a little over a year ago. Under the helm of Young, the Lab has been developing VR titles like “Slime Zone” and 360-degree videos to support shows like “The Loud House.” However, Young and his team have also explored how Nickelodeon could ultimately change the way it produces animation across the board.

This included transforming Young’s office on the network’s studio lot in Burbank, Calif. into a motion capture studio to experiment with real-time animation, as well as using Midi controllers to produce animated live shows for Facebook streams on the fly.

At the center of these efforts has been the idea of moving production to real-time technologies like game engines, Young told Variety during a behind-the-scenes tour of the Lab a few months ago. “The future is real-time,” he said at the time. “Working real-time is fundamental to this technology.”

One of the advantages of using a game engine to produce animation: The results can be rendered across different media with few changes. For a proof-of-concept short film, the Lab team first produced a regular 2D short film. Then, it took the same assets and brought them to VR. “And then we took the VR experience, and put it onto HoloLens,” explained Young a few months ago.

Nickelodeon hasn’t said yet which game engine it is using for “Meet the Voxels,” but the studio has in the past relied on Epic’s Unreal engine for some of its VR projects. In its announcement of the show, the network hinted at plans to bring the “Voxels” to AR and VR as well.

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