What is your niche craft obsession?

Creating backdrop environments in Unreal Engine, creating the scenes from scratch that integrate and house the story’s characters. For example, for award-winning short film Black Wing, I created all the underwater scenes and what I really enjoyed best was building out the texture to make the environment feel more realistic. Focusing in on bespoke details, such as the texture of the algae to suit an underwater world, really helps to achieve this.

Where/ when/ how did you first come across this thing?

It was about two or three years ago that I heard about Unreal Engine and now it’s been a year-and-a-half since I’ve been working with this program. I watched a film trailer and was curious about who did it and how. The film was called Inside the Virtual Production of the Lion King.

Was it an obsession straight away or something that has evolved over the years?

Straight away I really liked working in Unreal Engine. I learnt fast on the job and now my main goal is to enhance all the program results to make my work feel as realistic as possible.

What are the most interesting debates or conversations you are having around this obsession?

Interesting conversations have been centered around 3D development and how we can integrate Unreal Engine into the post pipeline, particularly in VFX. Now lots of people in post-production want to train up to use the program.

How widespread do you think this obsession is with your peers?

A few years ago, Unreal Engine was not necessarily well known however studios are now starting to work with the program. I think it was important for Heckler to start using Unreal early on when we did.

Can you share any examples of work where that obsession really came to the fore and elevated the final production? Can you tell us about it and share links if possible?

Unreal Engine really helps to elevate the final production of a film or TVC due to its ability to render and to review in real-time. For example, it’s easy to collaborate with a director and to straight away show them where to place the camera.

It’s also a different approach creating a full CG environment with a director, like on Black Wing, compared to creating an environment that includes the filming of live action, like in our recent commercial for Movember.

In the future, I’d love to start working on some more cinematic projects.

For anyone just getting into your field, what advice would you share to help them get their head around this particular thing?

My advice would be to stay curious, research, and push yourself to experiment and solve problems on the tools. Try different industry verticals such as virtual production, VFX and gaming.

The best training for me is to have a project – starting with the film Black Wing, I learnt so much about Unreal Engine. I encourage learning while you are making something. The best way to learn any software is to have a project; a story to work towards. Following a tutorial is good however it can feel quite overwhelming. Courses and tutorials are good for when you start to learn the program/software, but it’s good to have a project to keep you progressing and improving.

This article first appeared in LBB Online: