Lost and Found | Director Tristyn Studley | Sequencer Editor Russell Fenton | Environment Designer Steven Starovoitov | Sequencer Editor Danny Le

Humber College uses Unreal Engine to shed light on important issues

Could game engine technology help change the world? Students at Toronto’s Humber College sure think so. From climate change to burnout in the healthcare industry, they aimed to draw attention to society’s most important issues with their virtual production short film program, Made In-Engine.

A collaboration between the college’s Film & Multi-Platform Storytelling and Game Programming programs in the Faculty of Media and Creative Arts, the project aimed to show how more immersive storytelling technologies could make film a more powerful medium, transcending budgets to shed light on crucial topics.

The rules were simple: use Unreal Engine and Unreal Engine Marketplace assets to make a film focused on a powerful story or theme that’s relevant to the world around us. From development, writing, implementation in Unreal Engine, and finalizing in Adobe Premiere or After Effects, the creative process took a full 14-week semester.

“The project was the ideal solution to producing films during the pandemic and across two programs that had real-world impetus to collaborate at a time when Virtual Production is taking over the film industry,” said Dr. Eva Ziemsen, Professor of Film and project lead, who co-taught with Matthew Mazza, Instructor and industry expert in game engines who taught all aspects of Unreal Engine to the game students. “It was so clear our game students didn’t want to let the filmmakers down, so they threw everything that could into elevating the stories. You can see that on-screen, and in how they solved problems to get there. Everyone didn’t just walk away with a great portfolio piece, but a method for being successful out in the wider world,” said Dr. Umer Noor, Professor Game Programming Program.

Read on to see what can be achieved when you’re armed with Unreal Engine, a multidisciplinary team, and a compelling story.

Welcome Home

Director: Marco Panduro
Sequencer Editor: Sargis Nahapetyan; Camera: Trevor Gray; Landscape: Tristan James; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

Welcome Home is the story of an immigrant kid creature on her first day at school. The fear of the unknown gradually becomes the understanding that everything will be fine, with animation, camera work, sound, and music emphasizing our main character’s headspace.

The Lives Left Behind

Director: Ore Ibitayo
Sequencer Operator & Editor: James Del Pilar; Level Designer & 3D Artist: Nelli Kharshina; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

An insight into the emotional trauma and pain of suicide-bereaved families, The Lives Left Behind provides a window into a young woman’s pain through 3D design and lighting, and an emotive score.


Director: Shehryar Shaukat
Animation: Paul Rubio; Visual Effects: Cole Portolesi; Sequence: Editor and Environment Design: Tremaine Duquesnay-Mellis; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

Burning sees a young man’s hiking trip through a dense forest come to an abrupt and fiery halt as a forest fire consumes all in its path. Visual effects are crucial to the sense of danger and warn us about man’s role in the climate change emergency.


Director: Kendra Brightnose
Sequencer Editor: Keshavan Easwaradeva; Environment Designer: Alex Fazio, Julian Eustasie; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

A couple gets one last chance to say a beautiful goodbye in the dreamlike Kawapamitin. Based on an Indigenous story, the film uniquely portrays the northern lights in the night sky. 

Blue Prison

Director: James D. Lee
Sequencer Editor: Leonidas A. MacRury; Environment Designer: Ethan de Lange; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

A woman fails to escape the paralyzing blue light hunting her in this timely reminder of the importance of seeking help for mental health issues. Blue Prison uses lighting to remind us to be kind to ourselves and those around us.

Lost and Found

Director: Tristyn Studley
Sequencer Editor: Russell Fenton; Environment Designer: Steven Starovoitov; Sequencer Editor: Danny Le; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

What might the world look like if we lose the battle against climate change? Lost and Found attempts to answer that question as its robot protagonist roams a post-apocalyptic city environment, searching for items left by those who came before.

So Close Yet So Far

Director: Oluchi Nzeadibe
Sequence Editor: Kyle Gabiane; Environment Designer/Animation: Mohamed Campwala; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

The prescient topic of vaccine inequity is placed front and center in So Close Yet So Far, as a lonely security guard wanders a warehouse containing the COVID-19 vaccine he so desperately needs.


Director: Jubril Oladipupo
Rigger: Stephen Mojar, Level Editor/Artist: Sam Swintak; Sequence Editor Yerden; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

We’ve all had a taste of isolation over the last two years and are familiar with its effects on the human psyche. That’s the focus of Isolation, which uses real-time animation to visualize those effects and the anxiety of returning to the outside world.


Director: Nancy Dutta
Sequence Editor: Darlene Belicky; Environment Design: Chloe Burton; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

Raising awareness of the widespread sexual abuse of children, with the story of a 12-year-old girl abused by her own family member, Scars is a reminder that a functioning society should always care for its children.

Numinous Night

Director: Caitlin Devon
Environment Designer: Jian Carlo Miranda; Sequence Editor: Joseph Chi Shing Yuen; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

The sky’s the limit with real-time animation and that’s certainly the case in Numinous Night. A thank you to those who care for the animals of our world, it's the story of an injured raven that undergoes a process of healing and rebirth within an animal shelter.

Year of the Nurse

Director: Sarah Lefebvre
Environment Designer: Arthur Dutra; Sequencer Editor: Ju Chieh Liao; Rigger: Usees Waheed; 3D Artist (Nurse): Paul Moon; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

Nurses have been on the front line throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and Year of the Nurse is a reminder of their sacrifice, as well as a stark warning that current working conditions could lead to a mass exodus, crippling our healthcare systems.

The Flag

Director: Tosin Akinbinu
Level Designer: Garen Johnstone; Sequence Editor: Tanner Lee Olsen; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

The loss of an armed forces veteran can have a devastating effect on their families and loved ones. In The Flag, we get a taste of that pain and a call to watch out for anyone we might know in a similar situation.

Seeds Of The Future

Director: Ree Teixeira
Animation: Carl Justine Acupan; Sequence Editor: Tommy Hoang; Level Design: Joshua Fontana; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

There’s hope for the planet if we’re vigilant enough. That’s the message at the heart of Seeds Of The Future, which sees a robot exploring an abandoned city where he finds a single plant growing from the concrete, which he tends into a small field.


Director: Skyler Burke
Environment Designer: Ty Brontmeyer; Sequencer: Ivan Chernychko; Sound Designer and Mixer: George Flores; Music: Alfred Vienneau

A young girl experiences night terrors surrounding her own insecurities in Shadows. It’s an atmospheric realization of the effect that bullying can have on children between the ages of 8 and 12.

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