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Interview with Javier García del Río, Unreal Engine Cinematic Artist at Appeal Studios & butic Alumni

Noticias Visualización 3D 28 enero, 2022

We spoke with Javier García del Río, Unreal Engine Cinematic Artist at Appeal Studios and an Unreal Engine alumni at butic The New School. Do you want to know his story? 👇🏻

Thanks Javi for attending us and welcome back to butic The New School!

Why did you decide to study Unreal Engine?

I became interested in real-time rendering engines because they give me a lot of dynamism when it comes to capturing and show an idea as well as creating content. I remember how surprised I was the first time I came into contact with them. I focused on Unreal Engine.

Inside it you can illuminate, create materials, animate, edit sequences, create cameras and a whole range of areas that form a whole of it, and make it a fascinating tool.

What was your career path up to that point?

My first projects were as a designer, then around 2005 a friend and I created a studio called Letmesee, there we developed 3D visualization projects, motion graphics and other areas. In 2011 I had the opportunity to come to Belgium to work as a Compositor on Nuke for film projects at Benuts, a VFx studio in Brussels.

Since then until a year ago my career has been focused on digital compositing, here in Belgium and in Canada, Italy, England and the Czech Republic, being part of the team of DNeg, MPC, UPP, The Mill and Umedia among other studios.

For a year now I have been working as Unreal Engine Artist at Poolpio, nowadays I´m in the team of Appeal studios in Belgium creating cinematics for a video game also with Unreal.

Why did you choose Unreal Engine?

I don’t have a very clear idea why I made that decision, Unreal Engine came more naturally I guess.

Why did you decide to train at butic The New School?

For a long time, I knew part of the team at butic, and they have always given me confidence.

When and how was your first contact with Unreal Engine?

It happened in mid-2011. I was still living in Montreal at the time. At Dneg we had the opportunity to delve into different softwares and learn through their network of knowledge, I chosed Unreal Engine and that´s how I discovered it.

How has your evolution been during your training in butic?

Very positive, in my case I didn´t know Diego Hernández or César Maestre before, the two teachers of the master. Although we already knew that the master was going to contain a lot of material since the course was intensive, thanks to them and the classmates of the course, everything flowed in the direction of sharing good ideas, learning from each other and enjoying Saturday´s mornings.

What personal projects have you developed during your training at butic?

Since I started I already had several ideas in my head about scenarios and some animated stories that I wanted to create. During the course I finished a project that I called “Salmorejo“. It helped me to learn lighting, layout, texturing and optimization mainly.

The challenge was to keep the scene illuminated with Raytracing and with high resolution textures while maintaining its performance. Many of the models are Megascans, I used most of the models in high poly. The goal it was to get the most hyper realistic result possible.

The first piece which I created in Unreal Engine it was before studying at butic and it’s called “If“. It is a short shot, in which through a song of Pink Floyd you can see the reflection of the music in the water. This project helped me to learn layout and start working with materials, create the material of the water with the waves that were shown depending on the depth of the camera, and getting a good reflection adjustment in the whole piece were the most tedious parts of the project. It is a piece that I am very fond of.

With “Labyrinth“, more narrative, I was able to delve into cameras, Sequencer, FX, animation and Meta Human.

Why did you choose “Labyrinth” to show on The Rookies?

At that time I did not have a quality project that could represent the story that I wanted to tell. I wrote a little story about an Egyptian priest and his mystical mask, and I chose a part of the story to tell on a shot.

Labyrinth Metahuman. Entrevista a Javier García del Río, Unreal Engine Cinematic Artist en Appeal Studios y alumni de butic

I started by blocking the scene with volumes and adjusting animations to tell the monk’s process. He is a Metahuman, from the beginning of the project it was a challenge for me to adapt him to the Skeleton that I had as well as his facial rig. The goal it was to do a retarget of bones between the two to be able to mark the poses in animation.

Labyrinth Rigging. Entrevista a Javier García del Río, Unreal Engine Cinematic Artist en Appeal Studios y alumni de butic

At the same time I was lighting the scene, and after many tests I defined how they were going to be combined with the FX, which also provide light and color. Lighting in real time allows you to give to the scene the look on the fly, seeing the results instantly.

Labyrinth Iluminación. Entrevista a Javier García del Río, Unreal Engine Cinematic Artist en Appeal Studios y alumni de butic

Another discovery in the process of making “Labyrinth” was Marvelous for simulating textiles of all kinds, giving an incredible result. I learned the software to work with the monk’s pants and the curtains, creating the simulations with their respective collisions.

Labyrinth Cloth Marvelous Designer. Entrevista a Javier García del Río, Unreal Engine Cinematic Artist en Appeal Studios y alumni de butic

Blender was also very present in the process, I used it for modeling, texturing and as a bridge between Marvelous and Unreal Engine. In Sequencer inside Unreal Engine, I synchronized all the elements to compose the plane. This part was really inspiring, with Sequencer you can give rhythm and animate any element of the scene, also giving the possibility to edit shots.

Labyrinth Sequencer. Entrevista a Javier García del Río, Unreal Engine Cinematic Artist en Appeal Studios y alumni de butic

The sound is a very important part of the piece, I collected the style and some music cuts that I wanted in it, and Eloy G. Martorell was in charge of mixing everything, to whom I send a hug from here. Having a fairly tight deadline, I jumped without knowing where I was going to fall, and dedicated myself exclusively for a few weeks to developing the piece, a thirty-second shot.

What knowledge of 3D did you previously have and how has it influenced you?

I had already worked with 3D software before, especially 3ds Max and Blender. I think it helps a lot in understanding how Unreal Engine works and being more fluid with it.

Where do you currently work and what is your main job?

I am in the cinematics team at Appeal Studios as an Unreal Engine artist, we work on “Outcast 2“, a video game created entirely in Unreal Engine.

How would you summarize your experience at butic The New School and how has it influenced you professionally? How has it helped you improve your work?

Unforgettable for me, I learned a lot, it was a pretty solid contact with Unreal Engine. I felt like I was part of a good team and when we started The Rookies projects the school turned to help. Learning Unreal well in my opinion requires a lot of effort, because it is a very vast tool, although working with it is like playing, since it is also very intuitive. Learning it has allowed me to orient myself professionally in another direction, my background in the last 10 years has been as a VFX composer, and everything I´ve learned in that time can now be applied in Unreal Engine.

I am currently working on several personal projects, and apart from the work in the studio, I try to find time to advance them. Something that I am passionate about working with Unreal Engine is the possibility of telling stories and creating scenarios. I would like to be able to collaborate with other artists to create these kinds of stories, I am currently looking for funding to develop them, it would be great to be able to do the before and after sequences of “Labyrinth“, as well as a little game that I have in mind. Little by little.

Very grateful to have participated in this interview. Good luck to you!

Javier García del Río | Web | LinkedIn | ArtStation