Unreal Challenge: Spellar Performance—winners announced!

May 15, 2023
Our latest Unreal Challenge ran from February 2 through March 2, 2023. Within that time, the community, new and old, demonstrated their capable skillset surrounding VFX in Unreal Engine.

We received many fantastic, beautifully inspired, and creative short entries to the Unreal Challenge: Spellar Performance in two categories—Individual and Student. With this challenge, we also kept the Community Recognition Award where the community votes for their peer favorite, for further trials.
Spark your own creativity with inspiration from the Spellar Performance Sizzle Reel!
 

With that, we are pleased to announce the winners and runners-up, and present footage from many of the great entries that particularly caught our eyes.

Grand Prize, Individual:

Picky Witch - Paweł Mazurkiewicz

The judges felt this was a flawless execution of a fun, beautiful piece; all the primary elements of the effect are clear and have a purpose, and everything resolves smoothly and with intent... Secondary elements add to the composition without detracting; even distortion/refraction is used without smearing other aspects.

First Runner-Up, Individual:

5-Stage Elemental Spell Performance - Kim Byeong Jin (HoldimProvae)

Overall, this is top-notch quality work; a few times, the small detailed sprite elements overwhelm the scene and create more chaos for the viewer to parse than the panel would recommend. The same with distortion and refraction settings; there are moments when it actively works against the visual language your composition creates. There is a whimsical nature to the ribbon work that the judges love, but at times the noise of the smaller motions works against the piece as a whole.

Second Runner-Up, Individual:

Generated Memories - Gerry Li

This is such an expressive piece (even without the music) and, overall, very skillfully executed. The fluid motions are tremendous and are highlights of the piece. At a distance, the “embers” look great; however, because of the way their Bokeh nature makes them appear up close, and because the character reaches out to them but no motion occurs, there is a disconnect between the fantastical manifestation and the very physical nature of your character in the scene. The panel would love to see this ending developed in the future.

Grand Prize, Student:

In the Night - Doyon Kim

Doyon has created a very striking and beautiful art piece—the focus is clear, and the primary elements are well executed, with smooth camera framing that focuses our attention. With the primary elements in such a great state, the judges suggest adding secondary aspects to help further the composition's magic.

First Runner-Up, Student:

Reborn - Hyeok Ryu

We loved this great and thrilling use of tech. The panel’s advice is to watch out for how some of the shapes resolve in the explosive rebirth section; it is very clearly a sphere there, and some quick erosion elements in the material can help break that repeating pattern. The Magic spell that the floating entity casts gets eliminated by the glowing elements of them; looking at color or emissive values here would allow that moment to stand out a bit more.

Second Runner-Up, Student:

DYLO’s Submission - DYLO Gaming

The panel loved the idea, overall; the layout and camera movement was on point. DYLO Gaming did a great job giving each instrument its own unique “playstyle” effect. The emissive elements overall in the piece appear blown-out, including the delicate work on the instruments. Focusing on getting the instruments and Gideon’s connection to them would have taken this great initial concept to another level. We hope you continue to expand upon this piece!

Community Recognition Award:

Summon Dragon - Rinban

With the most votes from the community, Summon Dragon took the hearts of many with this evocative gamified effect! 


Honorable mentions:

Boiling Point - Dylan Browne

Dylan has created an amazing composition overall. There is a strong sense of realism in this piece which sells a lot. The moments that break the illusion for the judges are the water drops that are not boiling. There is so much wonderful chaotic motion from the fire and the boiling water that those drops that stay stationary stand out quite a lot.

The Sacred Moon Gate - Tran Anh Thuong Long

The story being told by this piece was fascinating, and the judging panel agreed that they wanted to play this game! Compositionally, the “barrier” element hinted at a little earlier in the sequence would have been fantastic. From a technical perspective, the panel recommends toning down either the emissive values or looking at the emissive/bloom response in post-process settings.

Invoking Michael the Archangel of God - Michael Sperandeo

This entry demonstrated some astonishing and well-executed uses of Chaos and VBD in a well-choreographed composition. There are some moments where the resolution of some of the smaller secondary elements seems abrupt, with sprites disappearing between cuts. The judges weren’t certain if this was because the piece didn’t use determinism in the Niagara setup or if the sprites just “die” between camera cuts.

Trace - Yonghun Jung

A well-executed piece, evocative, and oddly beautiful to watch. It takes a moment to make the connection between the pillars forming and the mannequins exploding; a part of that could be addressed by framing the scene better by either highlighting the moment before destruction or centering the frame for the first mannequin explosion so our eyes are drawn to it.

Subway Dream - heyjinjin1

The concept is superb, and the final shot looks great. The shape language you are using for the portal itself is fantastic; judges agreed that the curved tree and the distorted visuals through the portal are the best assets within this piece. While they know the portal is evocative and imaginative, the panel would stress the need to make sure your elements don’t break your connection from the effects themselves to other subject matter, such as the static characters.


Additional mentions:

There were so many incredible entries, you certainly gave us a hard time narrowing down the finalists. Here are some of the submissions that deserve a special mention.

SHIMMER - Arthur Baum

Under the Sea - Hyunda Gwon

GAIA - Martin Smekal

Invaders - FCV

Hydrokinesis - Jhon Waterman Acanda

Forest Effect - Rwk326

Manny Tonight - Mark McCallum

Thunder Cumulus - Effect Leg

The Secret Energy - Evgeny Nesterov

Singularity Spell - SamuraiE8

Resurrection - Chase Hoch

Coexistence - Kim Seungin

The Phantom - Dexxowaty

Magical Hat Trick - GG

Of Space and Time - O. Song

Voodoo - Neffnoa

The Wizard’s Performance - Zeek

Hungry Vegetable - Nodes of Nature


Congratulations to the finalists, and a huge thanks to everyone who participated. Check out all the entries on the forums.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next Unreal Challenge announcement for a new opportunity to train your creative and technical skillsets, then put them to the test—as well as a chance to win some great prizes!

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