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Aurélien’s Short Film "U 92" Made with Unreal Engine Won "Best Animation" in Evermotion Challenge 2022

2023-03-15
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Evermotion | Fox Renderfarm Interview

The Evermotion Challenge 2022 ended successfully and the competition has selected the best entries in four categories, including "Best Animation", "Best Commercial Render", "Best Personal Work", and "Best Unpublished Work". Aurélien Brion's short film "U 92" made with Unreal Engine won "Best Animation" in the competition. Fox Renderfarm, as a leading cloud rendering service provider and render farm in the CG industry, also a long-term partner of Evermotion, sponsored the challenge, and had the honor to talk with Aurélien about his award-winning work.

Best Animation - Unreal Engine Short Film by Aurélien Brion:

Fox Renderfarm: Hi Aurélien! We are honored to have you here! First of all, congratulations on winning “Best Animation” in the Evermotion Challenge 2022! How do you feel about it?

Aurélien: Hi! Thank you for the invitation. In fact, I posted my animation on the Unreal website without thinking about winning an award. Evermotion regrouped some of the best 3D artists worldwide and the standard of this competition is really high. I knew that I won because someone commented on my YouTube channel, and then I remembered that I had submitted this short film to the Evermotion Challenge!

Fox Renderfarm: Next, we’d like to start with your personal introduction. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Aurélien: I'm an architect who graduated from the Architecture School of Strasbourg in 2006. I worked as an architect for 2 years and then I chose to work as a 3D artist with my own agency. I've been passionate about 3D since I was a kidplaying games on Amstrad, Atari, and all that prehistoric stuff (yes, I know it was in fact 2D). I started to work as a hobbyist with some 3D software, and I was always attracted by materials and lighting.

Fox Renderfarm: How many years have you been in the CG industry? Could you share your educational experience with us?

Aurélien: I started to work as a 3D artist at the same time as I started my first role as an architect in 2006. I only have an architectural background and everything about 3D I learned by myself was through tutorials.

Fox Renderfarm: Could you introduce your award-winning work “U 92” to us? And what does "U 92" mean?

Aurélien: When I was looking for references about nuclear and radioactivity, I came across a clip from Kraftwerk “Radioactivity”. The first part of the clip was to tell plutonium production of Sellafield is 7.5 tons/year and only 1.5kgs is needed for a nuclear bomb…Starting from this, I started to write some ideas and scenarios. U_92 speaks about a worldwide nuclear reaction and nuke explosion without any war and engagement. That’s why the researchers are sent to the field, to find out what’s going on. At the nuclear plant, something strange happens and the hero faces another nuke. After that, we don’t know if he died or found another place to live in peace…

U_92 is the chemical symbol of Uranium.

*Tips: Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the periodic table with an atomic number of 92.

Fox Renderfarm: What was your inspiration for this short film?

Aurélien: Lots of short films on YouTube, but I really enjoyed the short “Irradiation” of Sava Zivkovic. This short is outstanding and Sava Zivkovic’s work is insanely good. I bought the Big/Medium/Small pack to make some tests and stills on it. After posting one of these on social media, I had very good feedback so I started to animate all of this and found some story to tell.

Irradiation by Sava Zivkovic

Fox Renderfarm: This animation is almost 9 minutes and you must have put a great effort to complete it. Could you introduce your workflow/pipeline? And how long did it take you?

Aurélien: Yes, it will take a long time making from still images with Corona/Vray, but with Unreal Engine, everything was shooting 4K in real-time without the help of the render queue. The pipeline was simple. I started with basic Mixamo animations and re-adjusted them on Unreal. I chose to replace the mesh head from Big / Medium / Small and replace it with metahuman and improve the realism. I used some packs from the marketplace, of course, and a lot of Quixel stuff too. It took about 2 weeks and a half.

starting scene

Starting Scene © Aurélien Brion

behind the scene

Behind the Scene © Aurélien Brion

behind the scene 2

Behind the Scene © Aurélien Brion

behind the scene 2+

Behind the Scene © Aurélien Brion

behind the scene 3

Behind the Scene © Aurélien Brion

behind the scene 3+

Behind the Scene © Aurélien Brion

plant

Plant © Aurélien Brion

plant 2

Plant © Aurélien Brion

meta blueprint

Meta Blueprint © Aurélien Brion

niagara particles

Niagara Particles © Aurélien Brion

Fox Renderfarm: Why did you choose Unreal Engine 5 to create this animated short?

Aurélien: When I saw "Rebirth" from the Quixel guys, it was a shock for me. The animation was stunning, photorealistic, and impressive. And I also saw a lot of good work made with UE on YouTube. That's why I started on Unreal Engine. Unreal and Quixel are free, which is a really good point mainly when you start to learn them. The Quixel library is huge and there are new free things every day.

Rebirth of Quixel:

Fox Renderfarm: The texture, body movements and facial expressions in this animation are realistic, how did you make them?

Aurélien: Thanks, I used Mixamo basics animations. A lot of times, I re-adjusted it on the sequencer to fix it but the base was still here. Facial expressions were metahumans, I didn’t use the iPhone app to animate them. I only used the sequencer and animated them by hand.

facial controls

Facial Controls © Aurélien Brion

Fox Renderfarm: The CG environment is really excellent. How did you create it? Any references?

Aurélien: I created some of them with Quixel and Kitbash 3D assets. The nuclear plant/factory and the Island at the end are from the Unreal marketplace.

Fox Renderfarm: The sound, music, and voice put the finishing touches on the animation. How did you consider the sound to match the images to set off the atmosphere?

Aurélien: The sound design was made by a friend, Lucas Bastian, and yes, he did an awesome job! Thanks to him! Lucas was free to imagine the music and some of the sounds. He added some really great ones and helped me a lot to improve this short. I was impressed when he sent me the first version of it. I was so happy, the sound of the step on the rock and some little sounds here and there was so good. I really like the outro music too. For the rest, I only gave him some dialog for the characters and some sound I wanted.

Fox Renderfarm: Did you meet any difficulties during this project? How did you tackle them?

Aurélien: In fact, each time I started a short I tried to add some new goal, technical difficulties, to be out of my comfort zone. It was the first time that I swapped a mesh head to a metahuman head, so thanks to the tutorials. It was a little tricky at the beginning but now it's ok. Same with particles and Niagara. I had to put my hand inside and see how it worked because I wanted the effects of flying then falling particles that'd interact with the mesh and gravity.

Fox Renderfarm: What is your most satisfying part of this work?

Aurélien: I think it is the facial expressions because all the characters wear masks, so it is difficult to feel it. But we can still feel it through the eyes’ expressions. I love the lighting too.

Fox Renderfarm: Do you remember the first work you created? Please share with us.

Aurélien: I remember my first project on Unreal, and of course, one of my first 3D images rendered with V-Ray. That’s old!! ;)

first work with vray

First Work with V-Ray © Aurélien Brion

Aurélien's first work in Unreal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-AyG7TsfGo

Fox Renderfarm: What artwork or artist has inspired you the most during your CG learning journey?

Aurélien: When I started learning CG, it was Bertrand Benoit BBB3VIZ, Alex Roman and a few others that inspired me the most. For now, beside the artist that l mentioned above, I follow Sava Zivkovic, Han Yang, Aaron Sims and a lot of others.

Fox Renderfarm: Have you ever tried the cloud rendering services of Fox Renderfarm? If you do, how do you think about it?

Aurélien: I haven’t had the opportunity to use your render farm, because I always had several workstations here for my node renders. And when I only still images, it was enough for me. Now on Unreal, I only have one computer and a 4090. But I’ll try soon for some still images or maybe a Corona animation!

Fox Renderfarm: As a CG artist, do you have any advice for people who are still new to the CG industry?

Aurélien: Yes, it’s a difficult industry because everything goes fast - computers and software are always in full development. You always have to be aware of what is new in the areas of 3D. You need to improve your skills every day, nothing is guaranteed. You must learn new software and new techniques. And you have to know that you are not the only one in this industry and the competition is global. It is all of these things that make this industry so interesting and in constant change.

Thanks a lot for Aurélien spending his time doing our interview and congrats to him again! For the Evermotion Challenge 2022, Fox Renderfarm provided each winner with render coupons as a prize, and we look forward to their more excellent work rendered with Fox Renderfarm.

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