Filmmakers Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma (a.k.a. Half M.T. Studios) spent the last year giving the world an extensive behind-the-scenes look at the production of their most recent short film The Voice in the Hollow, animated using Unreal Engine 5 (UE5).
The full short, an impressively stylized and cinematic effort, can be viewed below:
Knowing that their work with UE5 was likely to be interesting to others, Ortega and Ma documented more than 100 hours of making-of footage throughout the production of their short, all of which is currently available for anyone looking to learn more about the tool.
On Fridays throughout 2022, Ortega and Ma would appear on the social media accounts of Gnomon School, where they are instructors, to talk through the creation of their short and answer questions from viewers about the real-time 3d animation tool, as well as share in-progress visuals. The first video, posted on January 22, 2022, is linked below.
In this video, Ortega and Ma share the remarkable true story that inspired their short – anyone with an interest in anthropology or archaeology is sure to be fascinated – before diving into the aesthetic and narrative choices made for their evocative version of the tale.
Clocking in at just over two hours, the video is incredibly detailed and dives deep into many of the creative choices that Ortega and Ma made along the way. The two discuss using tools like Zbrush and Maya for character design and creation and Adobe’s Substance Painter for character texturing. Environments in the film were sculpted and textured in Gaea and then layered with Epic Games’ Megascans.
In later videos, the two explain how realistic costumes and fabrics were added using Marvelous Designer before being exported as Alembic caches into UE5. They also describe using Xsens’ Awinda suit and gloves for motion-capture performances and MocapX to capture facial expressions which were later touched up using Maya.
With each video clocking in at two hours, the tutorials might seem overwhelming. But they really aren’t. Ortega and Ma are experienced instructors who know how to speak to a crowd, and their regular engagement with viewers creates a classroom dynamic that’s as enjoyable as it is educational.