Image courtesy of Jonathan Sibayan: \system\IMG

The best sci-fi shorts from our latest Unreal Fellowship: Storytelling class

From undiscovered worlds and neon cityscapes to desolate futures and robotic ecosystems, this year’s Unreal Fellowship: Storytelling program produced some seriously impressive shorts, several of which embraced the science-fiction genre in all its glory. Here we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to show you what’s possible when you combine an out-of-this-world story with Unreal Engine’s galaxy-conquering capabilities.

If the program is new to you, it was designed to help 3D,CG and VFX artists re-skill themselves in real-time technology. As well as CG and VFX artists, key decision makers—directors, cinematographers, and VFX supervisors—also joined in the short-format training course.

Over the course of six weeks, each participant attended 24 classes, which touched on the foundational principles of linear animated storytelling and film production, including story, modeling, layout, lighting, and rendering. They then use these skills to create their own short film.

By the end of the program each participant could:
  • Import hard surface models for environmental scene construction
  • Deploy effective lighting and material systems to create a stylized look
  • Understand and utilize the character ingestion pipeline to animate performances
  • Implement and retarget performance capture data on character models
  • Operate a virtual camera solution to stream camera data into Unreal Engine
  • Utilize Sequencer to compose, animate, edit, and render a short film

See some of our favorite sci-fi themed shorts from the program below.

Love Is a Dangerous Game - James Bown

Having never touched Unreal Engine before the program began, James Bown was able to use Megascans to create the unique setting of his film, inspired by the unusual mating rituals of the peacock jumping spider. As the program went on, Bown built the confidence to challenge himself in areas such as lighting and rendering, things he’d always avoided as an animator.

\system\IMG - Jonathan Sibayan

The Unreal Marketplace and Quixel Megascans helped Jonathan Sibayan create a futuristic short inspired by Jurassic Park, Blade Runner 2049, Westworld, and more. Kitbashing ready-made assets from the aforementioned platforms proved a game changer for the project, allowing Sibayan to resist leaning on his asset creation expertise and try new things, to stunning effect.

Reish - Brent Le Blanc

A mining scout, Captain Reish, and his ship AI, Sono, make a huge planetary discovery in this spacebound story by Brent Le Blanc. Access to MetaHumans proved essential to the process and Blanc was blown away by the speed at which he could construct scenes, layout, camera work, and animation in parallel. In fact, Blanc has completely changed his career goals and is now pursuing a career heavily involving Unreal Engine.

Ket - Joshua Harvey

Coming from a Maya-based pipeline, Joshua Harvey embraced the ability to control the entire process from one program, without the need for different software and plug-ins. Unreal Engine’s Sequencer pipeline and advanced lighting helped Harvey produce a complex short involving flashbacks, otherworldly environments, and realistic human characters.

Samsara - Chris van Dyck

Inspired by Unreal Engine’s ability to build entire worlds quickly, Chris van Dyck created a sweeping, atmospheric tale of death and rebirth. He was able to drop in motion-capture performances and render complex dust, cloud, flying rock, and light particles under a tight deadline, adapting stock assets to populate the world.

Read only Memory - Persie Jalgaonwala

Unreal Engine allowed Persie Jalgaonwala to unleash his vast imagination in a short about memories of nature in a post-apocalyptic world. Inspired by the climate change emergency, Jalgaonwala had just five weeks to utilize his new skills. MetaHumans, powerful lighting capabilities, and landscape and foliage tools all helped to create the short’s arresting world.

    Connect the dots!

    Want to learn valuable new skills and make your own short film?
    Explore new possibilities for visual storytelling and discover different career paths in our Unreal Connectors program.