As you may know the Prowlies Wildlife Documentary was a “test project” to see how well I could integrate 2D animation in UE4 environments. When it was complete, it was featured on the Twitch Community Spotlight and got some attention on Twitter.
I attached Prowlies to my Epic MegaGrant application as a “prototype of a much larger project in the works”. To my utter disbelief and elation the application was successful. The MegaGrant funding arrived and that “much larger project” is now well and truly in production. For now, this is a solo project and I’ve streamed the entire process live on Twitch every weekend. The first teaser from this new movie got a huge response on Twitter; to date it’s the most popular I’ve ever posted on social media.
Here’s a quick process demonstration of how I’m getting my 2D animation into Unreal.
- In Unreal Engine, I animate the camera through the trees, then export that as an image sequence.
- In Harmony, I import that image sequence to use as a guide for the animation.
- When animation is complete, I render the character without the background.
- Back in Unreal, I attach the animation to the camera.
- The bouncy branch was built especially for this scene.
A 2D character moving around in the 3D environment means it can move through foliage, insect swarms, particle effects, and fog, without the need for special masks or digital treatments. The 2D character can even cast shadows from 3D lights!Since finishing the grasslands sequence, I’ve been very excited to see the forest sequence coming together, and it’s making good progress!
A year ago I was naively certain that I’d need to hire someone to build me some custom 2D integration tools for Unreal. But as I learned more I was amazed to discover that the tools are all there; I just needed to acquaint myself with them! Now that I’ve figured out my process, it’s a matter of getting faster at it. Apart from the 2D 3D integration, I still have a lot to learn about lighting and postprocess, but things are coming together very nicely. Thank you Epic, Twitch & Patreon supporters and the UE4 Community for your amazing support of this huge undertaking.