"SPELLBORN". Short movie done in UE4

Hey guys! I have just finished making a short movie using the fantastic UE4 as a master-degree project. Its a short sequence were I did everything except music and characters. (Some of the textures/sfx are also from the engine itself)

The whole point was to try and make a movie inside a game engine with the focus on realtime rendering as supposed to the traditional “Render from 3D software then through Nuke, After Effects” etc. I am really pleased with the end product despite just working on it for a short amount of time with this story as a context and a vehicle to drive the process forward. The engine is amazing though not really build for movie-making as of yet. It was however a really interesting process and something that I will continue practicing developing and harnessing as I really thing its the way to make CG movies for future filmmakers.

From the short story: “Book Of The First”, this sequence shows what happens when local street kids steal an ancient book from an apathetic girl who stumbles into their turf. Regrouping in their hideout after being attacked by “something”, they hear an inhuman scream outside their window.

“Spellborn” is about a world hidden within our own, slowly being revealed by strange occurrences. It is meant as a transmedia product that can be incorporate animation, liveaction, games, poems or short stories etc
This particular short story takes place in 2019 Los Angeles, but other stories will incorporate different geographical locations throughout time and dimensions.




**First version: **


Have a little making of thread here:

I am still not 100% happy with it so having a big debate with myself regarding doing something more to this or picking a new project.

What do you think?

I really like the overall project; you obviously put a lot of really great effort into it! The lighting and textures convey the mood very well.

I saw in your other thread that you intend to get better audio quality if you were to decide to give this project another pass, so I won’t comment any further on the smaller technical aspects that you obviously are already aware of. What I do think needs polishing is the story, and I don’t think it would be hard to do so actually. When the guy gets possessed with the demon (correct me if I’m wrong), I don’t understand why he gives to the homeless man after you’ve previously established that he was just a monster.

I have a suggestion that perhaps at the beginning of the movie, the girl gives money to the homeless man before the scary music begins. As she does so, zoom in on the spell book, which causes the homeless man discomfort when he notices it. This way the audience has a solid reason for having compassion for the girl. Also we’re instantly curious why an innocent little girl has a spell book.

Then she gets attacked by the hoodlums because they didn’t like her being nice to the homeless man (because he was in their territory or something).

Then she mutters the incantation and knocks out everyone etc. etc.

Now when the one hoodlum who “survives” (the possessed one) donates to the homeless man, zoom in on the spell book again. The homeless man says thank you, but when he sees the spell book again, he jumps up and runs away in fright. The possessed man chuckles to himself, and the audience realizes that the reason that both the girl and possessed man gave money away was because the demon forced them to do it out of spite. The possessed man then says “enjoy it while it lasts… humans.” (This having a double meaning that money eventually runs out as well as human’s lives as they’re either ended by death, or in the case of this movie, possession).

Maybe this isn’t what you were going for at all, and that’s totally great! Take it as you will, just trying to help. :slight_smile:

I also think that you need to work on the continuity of the short movie. The scene were the boys pushed the little girl to the ground broke the 180 rule and the scene where the little girls walks past the boys and somehow they end up in front of her down while she continued to walk can cause some confusion. Now if you meant to break the 180 rule I am sorry I made the comment.

I really like your version and it would tie up a lot of ends. I did want to show the hobo before so the audience would have some relationship with him. The way he is build in for the story is that he is the outsider of this event and sees in to the situation. The idea with the monster/spirit/entity is that it does what it needs to but its also adaptable… Such as girl gets attacked. The monster releases a blast for scare away/get rid of the gang but they run away (with the book) forcing the monster to come after them since the old host is to weak/dead.

The monster then attacks the gang in their hideout because they threaten it with a gun making it a definitive solution. “It” will kill if it must.

The idea with the wallets is that the hobo, despite being a witness is not a threat, so the monster instead pays him of. This was to show some sort of sentient intelligence behind the monster showing that it adapts to each encounter.

There is a lot of things I would want to fix but if I am ever going into this again then I need a better scriptwriter then myself =) The story is also more a vehicle for the pipeline of making a movie inside a game engine… BUT the story, while super cliche, is definitely interesting and something that I really want to work on again.

I also think that you need to work on the continuity of the short movie. The scene were the boys pushed the little girl to the ground broke the 180 rule and the scene where the little girls walks past the boys and somehow they end up in front of her down while she continued to walk can cause some confusion. Now if you meant to break the 180 rule I am sorry I made the comment.[/QUOTE]

Hey and thanks for the input. I am well aware of the 180 degree rule but did in fact break in for this short. This is because of time restraint and to hide some flaws with the animation as I animated every character seperatly. Not the best idea since they usually are grabbing and touching stuff but I had to get the animations into the engine then from there I could tweak it more.

The gang ending up before her was also out of time restraint since I had built the street for that encounter specifically so I threw in another scene when she is walking around before returning to the street.

IF I return than that is the second thing I would change since I’m not “super-happy” with the flow (and cameras) in the short (and I think I will never be either :stuck_out_tongue: )

The idea is nice, but the execution is lacking. To me, the lighting seems a bit ‘off’, the environment is a bit empty, at least 2 of the character models are from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD ( Nyjah Huston and Rodney Mullen ) and the girl is young Nilin, from Remember Me. I know you said you didn’t do the characters, but even aside from the questionable legality of using them, it also causes a bit of a clash in terms of character design.

Sound quality of the voice acting is also quite bad. So is the animation. Some of the shots are nice, but even in the scenes that have a bit of action (like the beasty fellow smacking the dudes in the apartement) everything felt so sluggish and unnatural.

I’m just wondering what you’re studying where this would be sufficient as a master-degree project.

Sorry if that all sounded kind of harsh, but I respect you for putting yourself out there, and I hope you don’t let things like this post get you down too much. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks mktwo

I completely agree with the execution. Dont know if you read my making of thread on this forum but the whole movie was done (one months time) as a backup project since an intership fell through. The characters are indeed from other games as well as some assets. I was supposed to change all the character meshes as well but did not get the time to do it. I only changed one guy to show that I could given time etc. For instance: All animation with the Hobo was done the day before hand in. That includes rigging, skinning, animation, exporting and setup in UE to give you some sense of my work speed towards the end.

My MA was in the pipeline technical production rather then the actual film. The story acted more as a vehicle for me in order to learn the engine/setup and the matinee workflow. Still did the traditional pre-production but as you may well know you have to render and composite (DOF, Motionblur, vignetting, fringe, text etc) in other programs where as you skip all that when you are working in UE4 which was my focus if that makes sense. The movie is only one part of the delivery.

I also had a loose deal with a voice-recorder/sound designer who were going to deliver dialogue for the production (better then mine at least =d) but that dident happen, so was forced to record everything myself. Terrible, haha =)

Yes, quality was unfortunately sacrificed and the inevitable “If I knew what I know now before…” platitude hangs over me, BUT I did learn a lot of stuff and I am going to do more. Already have plans for next movie in UE4 so stay tuned for that and thank you again for the honest feedback!

This has all the unmistakable characteristics of a project where you bit off way more than you could chew, and in the end wound up with a finished product that satisfies nobody.

It’s the kind of mistake EVERYONE makes when starting out. Learn from this and be more careful scoping your projects in the future.