Half a Mllion to Learn UE4 Virtual Production – fxguide
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Epic Games has just launched the Unreal Fellowship for film, VFX and animation professionals. It is a four-week intensive distance learning course that includes 94 hours of content and a grant of $ 10,000 for each accepted professional.

Epic Games has submitted applications for a new curated educational initiative called Unreal Fellowship. This new intensive online course is designed to help industry professionals in the areas of film, animation and VFX learn Unreal Engine and understand the state of the art in virtual production. 50 fellows are accepted and can learn leading technologies and techniques in the emerging real-time production field. Applications are open until Monday, July 27th. You can apply at unrealengine.com/fellowship.

The entire course will be conducted entirely remotely, starting with an orientation day on Friday, August 21, and courses that run from Monday, August 24 to Monday, September 21. All learning tools are completely free and provided by Epic. Each participant will receive a $ 10,000 scholarship to ensure that they have enough time to successfully complete the rigorous curriculum.

The Unreal Fellowship builds on existing Unreal online learning courses for basic skills and also offers:

  • 22 hours of dedicated live training,
  • weekly guest lectures by industry leaders,
  • weekly mentor meetings,
  • open "office hours" with a live trainer, and
  • A dedicated Slack channel for communication and questions and answers.

With an estimated 94 hours of content and project-based work during the four-week program, the fellows focus on learning the basics of Unreal Engine, recording models, animation, mocap integration, lookdev, lighting setups and cinematic storytelling. The curriculum was refined earlier this year through a pilot program with 15 fellows. The pilot program started in May lasted 6 weeks. The pilot program included people like former DNEG and digital domain artist David Breaux.

The pilot program brought together a number of industry professionals who, like Breaux, had strong industry experience but were not UE4 experts. "I had done some UE4 work, but not much, and I burned it out in the first two days. It was like we had a lot of information," he said. In the pilot program, each of the fellows had to produce their own short film using the Epic and Unreal Marketplace, which provided the basic assets. Because each fellow had a different background and interest, each film was different and "expanded its capabilities and backgrounds," added Breaux. In the case of Breaux’s short film Hunter Hunted, he reflected his skills as a character and creature animator, but most fellows didn’t have such a strong and focused background for character animations.

David Breaux was added to the Live Link Face app

One of the many tools available to the team was the new Live Link Face iOS app, which was in beta at the time and has been released this month. Live Link Face transfers high-quality facial animations in real time from an iPhone directly to characters in Unreal Engine. The app's tracking uses the ARKit from Apple and the TrueDepth front camera of the iPhone to interactively track the face of an actor and to transmit this data directly to Unreal Engine via Live Link via a network. Breaux & # 39; Film used it in many ways, but Breaux particularly liked one approach. He bought a stand and left the iPhone sitting on his desk – right under his screen where UE4 was running. "I had a female figure on the screen facing a large creature and I could control the figure's face as if I were her," he explains. “I positioned the virtual camera so that it was over my character's shoulder when she looked up at the creature. Then I could react and look at the creature – as if I were it – and control its reaction and animation directly. This way I was able to measure "their" performance for the monster in real time. "

While most of the short films in the pilot were linear storytelling, the program covers all areas of virtual production, particularly the tremendous advances in virtual LED set production, with guest speakers and detailed training material dealing with virtual environments in advance. In addition, UE4 projects with sequenced characters were examined in detail, which can blur the line between a short film and advanced game kinematics. One instructor considered that Breaux & # 39; Hunter Hunted "looked like a cinematic teaser for a game that hadn't yet been made" and that they would not be surprised if Breaux was interested in both the game community and the film Project would have community.

Epic has done everything possible to use the Unreal Engine as a tool for the film industry, and the Fellowship program seems to be designed for those with serious film backgrounds. A particular focus is, for example, on collaborative virtual production. This can be seen in the progress in wealth management, the joint scouting of multi-user sets and tools such as the Live Link Face app used by Breaux. The app includes a multicast network to simultaneously stream live link data to all computers in the multi-user editor session to minimize latency. It also offers robust timecode support and precise image accuracy, which enables seamless synchronization with other stage components such as cameras and body motion detection. Live Link Face also has a Tentacle Sync integration that connects to the stage master clock via Bluetooth, ensuring an editorial lineup with all other device recordings of a major shoot.

The Face app was just one example of a variety of tools that the Epic Fellows learned and used in the course. Complex lighting receives special attention as high-ranking award-winning artists and TDs offer both live lectures and personal advice. While the COVID pandemic meant that the fellows could not use a virtual LED set, they still delved into detailed digital live cinematography, LED technology and lighting design. Topics covered during the course were model shooting, animation, mocap integration, lookdev, lighting control and film storytelling.

In the pilot program, each day started with a virtual agile stand-up via zoom for one hour before the specific training of the day began. Fellows of the new program can expect the same tailored guidance and more detailed case studies from people working on key productions around the world.

"Technology can only be a great democratizer if it is freely available and empowers the people who use it," said Daniel Gregoire, owner and chairman of Halon Entertainment. “Epic has not only embarked on the first, but with its fellowship program an active path to bring professionals and lights into their ecosystem. This is evidence of more than a passive interest in the Hollywood community, but an active, positive force for important storytelling and change. "

"At Epic, we have always believed in the transformative power of real-time computer graphics for film and television production," said Kim Libreri, CTO of Epic Games. "With the Unreal Fellowship, we are actively investing in visionaries who are responsible for creating the stories of tomorrow to ensure that they have a deep understanding of the many ways that real-time technology can benefit their projects."

The LA-based Epic team controls the live training and collaborative real-time components of the fellowship. At least five years of experience in commercial film and television production, immersive entertainment or game development are required, along with the ability to work full-time for the fellowship for four weeks.
Visit unrealengine.com/fellowship for more information

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