This short cinematic is a sequence I worked on individually for the past five months for my final senior project. Not only did I want to challenge myself as a character modeler and learn rigging, animation, and Unreal Engine 5, I also wanted to create something that had a very real and tangible cinematic quality to it.
A Look Into the Creation Process
Phase 1: Concepting, Modeling, Texturing, Look Development
Both the cone snail and the nautilus were major inspirations for the design of the creature, which initially started as a cone snail creature with a human torso emerging from the shell. However, the design evolved as I did more research into various aquatic life.
Creature Sketches and Color
As you can see there were some changes from the initial design in order to save time. Most notably was the replacement of the numerous tentacles on the creature with sea urchin-like quills in the final film in order to make the animation work less intensive.
Block Out and Primary Shapes
Retopology and Body Detail
Second Animatic, Torso Detail, Unreal Environment Iteration
This animatic marked the halfway point of the project where I was done modeling and texturing the creature and could now move on to properly rigging and animating it.
Phase 2: Rigging and Animation.
Figuring out the animation pipeline from Blender to Unreal was a major hurdle I had to overcome for this project in addition to me being a novice animator. I knew how to create a decent rig in Blender, however, all of the special constraints and controls would not import into Unreal without destroying the function of the rig.
The solution I came across was to have two rigs in Blender: the game rig and the control rig. The game rig was the basic armature structure without any constraints that was parented and skinned to the mesh, while the control rig was the game rig with all the added constraints to help with the animation process. Bone constraints were then added to the game rig in order to connect the transform information of the control rig. This resulted in a clean game rig that could be exported into Unreal while at the same time being controlled by various animation constraints that were attached to the control rig.
My final control rig and game rig in Blender.
My first testing of importing an animation from Blender to Unreal.