New training videos explore Slay Virtual Art Department pipeline

The introduction of virtual production workflows to animated films and series has shifted the way teams work. One big change is the role the Virtual Art Department (VAD) now plays in creating, organizing, and cataloging numerous digital assets—3D models, textures, materials, lighting setups, camera specs, and so on—and making them available to the production team.

Mold3D Studio has just released a series of videos that walk through the process the studio used to create Slay, an animated short featuring the character Windwalker Echo from the Unreal Engine 5 promotional videos. These six new training videos, each 30-60 minutes long, focus on VAD workflows, highlighting the key aspects of working in real time for linear content and media.

The animated short Slay was released in September 2021, and the full Unreal Engine project is available for download at the Marketplace

Slay itself features a rich environment, unique characters, and real-time special effects, and serves to show how Unreal Engine can be a powerful and time-saving tool for animated series and films. While you can learn a lot about how Slay was created just from studying the project files, there's more to a real-time workflow than the project and its result, as you’ll see in the training videos.

Previously, Epic released the video The Making of Slay, Mold3D Studio's Animated Short as part of the Inside Unreal series. This new course goes deeper into the process, giving 3D and environment artists the knowledge they need to create animated stories with a real-time workflow.

The six-part course includes these videos:

Slay Workflow 1: Visual Vocabulary Block Out

The first video in the Slay Workflow series gives a preview of what the entire course will cover, then dives into the process of sourcing reference and preparing your environment using blocking techniques. To follow along, download the Slay project from the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Slay Workflow 2: Look Development

In this video, we develop the project’s look with textures and materials in Unreal Engine. We establish Texel density, explore using Quixel Mixer for creation of source texture materials, and then introduce vertex painting, layered materials, decals, and set dressing.

Slay Workflow 3: VAD Production Workflows & Setting Up Unreal

This video covers the vital preparatory steps that the Virtual Art Department must take to ensure a smooth real-time process: setting naming conventions, creating master materials, naming and organizing folders, and other behind-the-scenes tasks.

Slay Workflow 4: Real-Time Asset Creation

This video goes through the process of creating assets specifically for a real-time pipeline. The process starts with blocking out the model in Maya, and moves on to high-resolution sculpting in ZBrush. Next is a low-resolution version, with work on maps and textures in Substance Painter.

Slay Workflow 5: Lighting

This video covers the basics of environment lighting, beginning with a blank canvas and layering in your lights as you build to your final shot complete with cinematic lighting. Follow along with the sample Slay project from the Marketplace, or use the same concepts to set up lighting in your own project.

Slay Workflow 6: Sequencer

In the final video in the Slay Workflow series, we look at how Unreal Engine Sequencer was used to create shots within the final output. We also explore the process of modifying assets and setting keyframes with Sequencer, seeing all our changes update in real time.

    Ready for a real-time animation workflow?

    Download the Slay project from the Unreal Engine Marketplace, watch the educational videos, and start reaping the benefits of a real-time pipeline for your own animation projects.