Announcing our VFX-themed Unreal Challenge: Spellar Performance

February 2, 2023
New year, new challenge: start your engine, and get ready to create some Unreal VFX!

Last year saw the kick-off of a brand new community challenge series aimed at creators worldwide that are both newcomers to and veterans of the industry and Unreal Engine. We hope that these challenges will give you the opportunity to learn new skills and hone existing ones, as well as providing a forum for community networking, and the chance to have a whole lot of fun. Feel free to check out the previous challenges.

With further ado, let’s introduce Unreal Challenge: Spellar Performance.

This themed challenge is focused on everything visual effects (VFX). We want to see what out-of-this-world magic you can weave with the Niagara VFX system in Unreal Engine.

While the overall composition of your scene is important, environmental visuals do not play into this particular challenge, so you are encouraged to focus on the VFX themselves from both a technical and a visual standpoint. It is totally acceptable to have a black background to stage your VFX, or create something fitting to your idea and your interpretation of the theme.

We can’t wait to see what you create!

The challenge

Starting on Thursday, February 2 at 2 PM ET, when we kick off the event on Inside Unreal, you have four weeks to create a video entry inspired by the theme, Spellar Performance, which must be submitted by March 2, 2023 at 7 PM ET. The Grand Prize winner will receive $1,000 cash, plus prizes from Houdini, Sketchfab, and Artstation, not to mention some fancy swag from Epic; first- and second-place runner-ups will also receive prizes.

Last year, we had a great response to splitting up the event into two groups. The Unreal Challenge will both award individuals overall, and specifically recognize outstanding students. To qualify as a student, you need to be enrolled in higher education, in a full-time or part-time course.

We will also be continuing the Community Recognition Award, in which, after submissions close, the community votes for their favorite entry, excluding their own. Participants are encouraged to post their submissions on social media to gain further traction for their entries. See the official rules for more details on this.

Want to stay in the loop for announcements during the event?
Join the dedicated challenge group on the forums!
 

Submissions

To enter the competition, you need to create a video highlighting the challenge theme, Spellar Performance, and the focus, VFX. Your video must be:
  • Posted in the Unreal Challenge: Spellar Performance forum category by March 2, 2023 at 7 PM ET
  • Between 10 and 60 seconds long, with a minimum resolution of 1920 x 1080
  • Created using Unreal Engine without any additional software or post-production tools
  • Kind to other creators—you may use (non-VFX) premade assets as part of your scene, but credit your sources
 

Getting started

On Thursday, February 2 at 2 PM ET, join us on Inside Unreal—airing on both Twitch and YouTube—as we kick off the proceedings. Don’t miss this chance to meet Senior FX Artist Eric Ketchum and Senior Technical Artist Jan Kaluza who work on Fortnite, along with Cinematic FX Artist Juan Collado and Principal VFX Technical Artist Matt Radford from the Unreal Engine development team. They’ll answer your questions about this Unreal Challenge, and run through some VFX and Niagara fundamentals and best practices, as well as serving up some swanky examples to get your inspiration going.

We’d like to extend our gratitude to our generous sponsors: 
SideFX, ArtStation, and Sketchfab
 

Rules

Please read the official rules for complete details, including a full list of submission guidelines, prizing, and more.

The rules for this challenge are also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish (EU) (LATAM), and Turkish.
 

FAQs

How do I submit my entry for the challenge?
Create a new discussion in the challenge category on the Unreal Engine forums, and use the tag ‘SpellarPerformance.’

Can I use Movie Render Queue?
Your video file must be encoded directly from Unreal Engine only, using any methods described in the documentation, including Movie Render Queue. We reserve the right to ask you to provide a screen recording of running the render from Movie Render Queue.

Can I use audio or dialogue?
Yes, but be advised that it is not a part of the judging criteria. If you use post-production software, you may ONLY use it for adding audio, and not to manipulate the visuals in any way; we reserve the right to ask to see a screen recording of the render within Unreal Engine. You can also add audio from within the engine using the command-line encoder (in the case of Movie Render Queue) or by adding audio tracks via Sequencer.

Is ray tracing or path tracing allowed?
Yes, ray tracing and path tracing are permitted for this challenge.

Can I work as part of a team?
No, you must work on your submission as an individual. Team entries do not qualify.

Can I use Unreal Engine samples and demo projects?
Yes, you can. If you find you have time or want to challenge yourself further, you could even create your own environment, by kitbashing assets you already own or have access to, such as free Marketplace content.

Since this is a technical challenge, copying pre-existing examples variable by variable would not be in its spirit, which is why we don’t allow the direct reuse of VFX samples.

Can I use Marketplace assets that I own?
Yes, as long as they are not visual effects assets, you are encouraged to use what you own and have permission to use to create your scenes. Upon submission, you will have to credit any non-original assets used.

My submission hasn’t shown up after I posted it. What should I do?
If this is the first time you have posted on the forums, your post will enter the moderation review queue and will be approved shortly. If this is close to the deadline, don’t worry: we can see what time these are attempted to be posted; if a submission post hits the review queue before the deadline, it will still be approved.

Can I use older engine versions?
Yes, though using the latest stable version(s) might be more advantageous. Remember to use Experimental features at your own risk.

I have a question regarding the challenge that is not covered in the FAQ. How can I find the answer?
Create a new question in the challenge category, and use the tag ‘UnrealChallenge.’

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