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A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Academy for Creative Media (ACM) professor’s experience at the Unreal Fellowship in Virtual Production propelled her knowledge and instruction to the cutting edge of the industry.

Assistant Professor Brittany Biggs recently completed the highly competitive, 30-day fellowship hosted by Epic Games, a leading gaming company that created Unreal Engine, a gaming engine used for popular video games, such as Fortnite, and is finding applications in other industries, including architecture, film and television content creation and more.

headshot of Brittany Biggs
Brittany Biggs

More than 6,000 film, VFX (visual effects) and animation professionals applied and only 102 were selected. The goal of the fellowship’s blended learning experience was to enable its participants to “develop a strong command of state-of-the-art virtual production tools, and foster the next generation of teams in the emerging field of real-time production.” Virtual production is now heavily relied on by Hollywood to continue film production during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even prior to the pandemic, Disney found success utilizing real-time workflows with Unreal Engine during the production of The Mandalorian.

“To say the Unreal Fellowship in Virtual Production was one of the most amazing experiences is an understatement,” Biggs said. “I’m astounded how much I learned in only four weeks, and I’m excited to incorporate Unreal and real-time workflows into my research/creative work as well as our ACM curriculum.”

For the final fellowship project, Biggs was required to create a 30–60 second chase sequence after being provided with the characters and environment. Biggs was responsible for the story concept, camera/cinematography, mocap (motion capture) animation (cleaning and stitching it together), keyframe animation, facial animation, set extension of the ocean, lighting, editing and sound design.

“We were very excited by her selection for this fellowship which will allow UH Mānoa ACM animation students to learn the latest animation techniques and the real time workflows currently used in the industry,” Chair Christine Acham said. “This will continue to make our students very competitive when they enter the job market.”

—By Marc Arakaki

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