Unreal Engine not only allow artist to create 3D animation. It also changes the way content creator setup storyline. define background set and character game plan as well as concept… Let’s dive in the making of an animation series to learn why.

Start by searching for the right ideas and focusing on simple concept

Started from his passion for old preschool animation shows in the form of stop-motion, Peter Monga tried to figure out a way to apply modern tools to create a series of such type.

VR gameplan - monga 3d animation production

He finally was able to create his own series all by himself, based on simple concept and production model. Below is the list of 3D animation production that he listed out by the time he delved himself into the animation making process.

  1. There’s no need to create a complex world just to stimulate kids’ imagination. A cardboard could be a anything a toddler could imagine of, i.e. a spaceship, a car, a shelter… as long as the storytelling is good and accompanied by good characters’ animation. So, Peter Monga decided the whole series will be taken place in a set of background. No adventures to faraway lands.
  2. Characters be simplified as much as possible. The aim is to make them easy to animate. He, thus, come up with the idea of characters with no pupils, no hands and no feet .
  3. Cut down the lipsync would make the animation production simpler. So it would be narrated by only one voice actor.
  4. Stop-motion inspired animation caused it’s made for preschool aged. Thus, the series would be animated at 12 fps.
  5. Each episode would be limited to those characters and background set. Only a few new props would be introduced throughout the whole series.

Next step is to develop character, storyline, storyboard for the animation series

The show is aimed at preschool aged children. Below is the character concept designs by Peter Monga

Character concept - monga 3d animation production

Peter Monga then drew a playbook-style game plan. The aim is to help him visualize where he wanted the characters to be, in order to create necessary props and backgrounds for the series in advance.

The environment as the final background set in the show – a screenshot from Peter Monga’s Unreal Engine:

VR gameplan - monga 3d animation production

When all the input was available, he figured out the best layout on which the final animation would be based. Advanced research and detailed preparation helped save him lots of time and rework in production process.

3D Animation Production and Final Rendering using Unreal Engine

Maya was used for modeling and animation. While Photoshop was used for texturing. However, the most important part that helped pull this project off was the capability to render in real-time. This was possible by using Unreal Engine 4.

VR gameplan - monga 3d animation production

Unreal Engine allowed Peter Monga to ignore the lighting, compositing, rendering steps as in the traditional animation pipeline. The real time rendering in Unreal Engine means what comes out in Unreal is essentially what ends up finally on screen.

VR gameplan - monga 3d animation production

Essentially, all can be done in Unreal engine, either color grading or post processing. Even higher grade effects such as particle effects, high quality ambient occlusion, depth-of-field, reflections, global illumination and refraction can now be easily achieved.

Unreal allows Peter to achieve a high-quality final image with much less time than a usual pipeline. Unreal can produce images that are more than good enough. There’s no catch for using Unreal Engine. No trade off between time and quality as the traditional rendering method.

Besides, there’s a need to figure out game plane for the series. Below is the VR episode game plan worked out using Unreal Engine’s VR editor:

VR gameplan - monga 3d animation production

Since the cg assets were already in Unreal Engine, the process for editing VR was so much easier.

Furthermore, because Unreal has a built-in LOD (level of detail) system, it helped Peter reduce the texture and the polycount resolution automatically. Therefore, there’s no need to alter models at all. All Peter Monga needed was just to set up the LOD system, which was pretty easy.

3D animation series for kids on Youtube channel – Final Results with the aid of Unreal Engine

Eventually, Peter Monga was able to create one two-minute trailer and three five-minute episodes. The animation part for each five-minute episode would take him four or five weeks from start to finish. Each episode are about 80 shots.

Once animation for each episode is done, the next step was to have them rendered. Peter was able to save time for light, render and compositing 80 shots by taking advantage of Unreal Engine power. Rendering an episode would take him three days only with Unreal Engine. Way better than vs. traditional pipeline.

Below is a final rendered scene:

VR gameplan - monga 3d animation production



From the story of Cocomelon Nursery Rhymes extreme success to the story of creative new-styled stop-motion made for preschool toddlers, do you learn something? That’s right! As long as the storytelling is good, Unreal Engine has everything you need to pull the animation series off. And remember this one thing: either a familiar nursery rhymes with familiar characters or fiction storyline with fictional, human-like characters, there’s always many audience out there awaiting for the best edutainment content that drive their imagination and excitement for new adventures.

Read more >> 3D Animation series for Youtube channel – Simple Concept and Production with Unreal Engine prevails – P1 via this link

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/
  4. Bloomberg News: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/
  5. Insider: https://www.insider.com/