Utilizing Unreal Engine 4 to make a Previs for an indie-scale Virtual Production ; real-time Animation

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“You create the narrative.”(Epic Games) As a young independent filmmaker who was eager to enhance creativity, the promotion of Epic Games had hooked me with a challenging mindset. My profession was cinematography which relies on real-life components. As I work on-set, I have always been uncertain about what is happening off-set and lacked knowledge about VFX. Therefore, the advent of Virtual Production was a founding event for me to retrain myself. The initial research question has started quite personally: “Can I benefit from Unreal Engine to overcome my complex about VFX?”

The MVP(Minimum Viable Product) of this creative research is a Previs, a 3D animation scene precisely made for filmmaking purposes to block out camera movement and the actor’s performance. The subject matter is based on an original story, a renowned children’s book <Momo>(written by Micahel Ende, 1973). In order to proceed the research, I have learned the basic level of VFX skillset; from Modeling, Rigging, Retargeting to Rendering and toolset as well; Zbrush, Maya, Shogun, Motionbuilder and Unreal Engine. With the support of Massey University and utilizing the facility of Motion Capture studio, I have sought a way to down-scale the complexity of the VFX film/animation pipeline into an indie-scale project.

PROGRESS 2021.02-2021.10

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<Modeling>
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<Rigging(Advanced Skeleton5) & Step Key Animation>
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<Motion Capture & Live-Retargeting (Unreal Engine4 FBX workflow with Live-Link)>
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<Independent Virtual Production; real-time Animation pipeline>
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Final Result and Conclusion
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My research question started out quite personally; “Is Unreal Engine going to be an useful tool for an independent filmmaker like me to retrain oneself and be prepared for the future of Virtual Production?”. During the research, I realized my complex has been derived from uncertainty to doubt if I would ever get access the new technology. 

In conclusion, Unreal Engine has completely changed my submissive mindset to seek for opportunities by proactively taking advantage of whatever they offer to retrain myself.  Thanks to the democratization of Technology that Unreal Engine and the community have given, I could gain certainty to extend my experience as a filmmaker. As a learner, I do not worry about losing access to the capital and learning experience anymore.

Visualization has always been the search for the goal rather than the attainment of one(Katz).  I believe making a Previs in Unreal Engine is beneficial for all-level filmmakers who want to brainstorm their ideas and take a step further to create a production-hardened Virtual Production.

 

☑Overcoming the fear to choose a story

☑Enhanced practical knowledge about VFX

☑Making a viable 3D animation workflow

☑Practising a real-time on-set experience

☑Making creative decisions as the key creator

 

The initial expectancy list for the project is all checked.

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