Cutscenes: What is the recommended way to go about it?

I’m currently facing two ways to go about including cutscenes in my project:

  1. Shoot the cutscene from the Sequencer, including the character movements, and simply play the sequence from the level blueprint at an appropriate point in the game. However, this might cause syncing issues with the character animations, but gives smooth transition between gameplay and the cutscene.

  2. Shoot the cutscene from the Sequencer, including the character movements, and render it out to a video. Import it back in and then, at an appropriate point in the game, play this video over the screen via a widget element. This method does away with the syncing problems, but the transition can be abrupt. However, as a bonus, the video can be post processed in a third party software (like After Effects) before importing into UE.

Which of the two ways is better, and what are the pros and cons? It would be tremendously helpful if you could point me towards relevant resources/tutorials/guidelines.

Just from a logistical point of view, option 2 would avoid so many hassles, some of them you mentioned.

Why would 1) have sync issues?

You can also consider file size, if you have a lot of cutscenes in game cinematics will save you a lot of disk space basically.

That is true, disk space will be saved. That’s a pro for 1.
Won’t 1 have sync issues? I reasoned the animations and all are kinda detached and independent, like not really baked into a proper video? So every time the cutscene plays, there could be a lag or something in it; in the camera movement, character animations etc. Am I wrong here?

Yes, there won’t be any lag. You can put the animations in a sequencer track and blend between them if necessary too.

I get you. What about the video approach, though? Any thoughts on that?

Some games do the video approach. Sure, its almost guaranteed to be polished and smoothly animated. But I always find it a bit jarring and off looking when a game has a rendered video thrown into cutscenes. Alien Isolation was guilty of this in particular.

I think it’s a waste rendering sequences to video if they can be rendered in realtime anyway. If you’re using video you might as well render the cinematic using a real offline renderer and get really good quality. It’s the way things used to be done at least.

But now, if you can do the same thing basically but with real time rendering, why not do it? There are only advantages.

Agreed on Alien Isolation. Since we’re on titles, how do you think those in Life in Strange were handled? It’s made in Unreal as far as I know, so maybe a few parallels can be drawn.

bump … I also would like to know how Life is Strange cutscenes were made. I’m currently trying to make a cutscene, but I don’t know how to move first person character’s camera with Sequencer, while preserving player’s control over it, so he could look around.