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An Unreal Cinematic Experience

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Until recently, I created graphic novels and animated videos by drawing individual two dimensional frames using my Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 tablet, which I imported into Clip Studio Paint EX. Six months ago, I chatted with a creator at Epic Games, who suggested that I use Unreal Engine for three dimensional storytelling. I downloaded Unreal, and built a three dimensional environment based on the world I created for my graphic novel, "Portal of the Ancients." I started with a blank template, upon which I sculpted mountains, valleys, rivers, seas, battlegrounds, temples, and cities. I experimented with different types of trees, grass, water, and terrain features until I had achieved a surreal fantasy environment which also appeared realistic and immersive. I added finishing touches including erupting volcanoes, steamy pools of water, fire, snow, and ocean waves. Finally, I positioned a sun shining through the mountains, bathing the countryside with afternoon light.

With my virtual world in place, I used Unreal Sequencer to film my next animated video trailer, "Quest of the Ancients". With Sequencer, I placed seven cinematic cameras in my virtual environment to allow shots from multiple angles. I started with an epic battle sequence involving two armies, including dozens of three dimensional digital actors. I staged the scene by placing my digital soldiers in position, forming two long columns emerging from the battle which takes place at the end of "Portal of the Ancients." My next step involved animating each character in place, and transforming it to a new location to simulate walking. Subsequently, I panned cameras forward and backward across the columns, zooming out with each pass. I ended the shot with a aerial pan over a mountain range. To complete my video footage, I added an introductory sequence which panned over a coastline, through three ancient cities, a forest, and a gateway into the mountains. I added a soundtrack, including music and sound effects, to finish my "Quest of the Ancients" trailer. Through this process, I realize that Unreal Engine has evolved beyond game development. Now I face my next challenge of producing an animated motion picture.

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