Uzair Zaheer Khan
A CG generalist, specializing in character animation from Vancouver film school, Uzair has 20 years of experience setting up unique pipelines. He has worked on a range of prominent projects like Discovery next world, Toyota Scion Deviants, UPS Cardboard World and Eidos Tomb Raider Legends. Uzair setup Unicorn Black Studios to produce the Emmy nominated Series – Burka Avenger, and as the Series Director and Head of Production.
Uzair is the founder of 3rd World Studios, a 3D animation studio in Islamabad, Pakistan makers of ‘Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor‘, the first animated film made using Unreal Engine. His work has received multiple international awards like the Peabody award for broadcast excellence, Gender Equality award, Monolith award for technology, Rising Star for Animation, amongst others.
3rd World Studios created a COVID-19 public service announcement in record time by using iClone 7 (animation/editing/face mocap), Unreal Engine 4 (rendering), Xsens (body mocap), and Manus (hand mocap).
“With keyframing, an artist can produce anywhere from three to six seconds of finished animation per day. This iClone Unreal setup took 3rd World Studios approximately 3 to 4 hours to produce the entire 45 seconds of PSA animation”Uzair Zaheer Khan – Director / Producer
Q: Hello Uzair Khan, we are excited to have you on our Reallusion Feature Stories. Please introduce yourself, your work and 3rd World Studios.
I’m a CG artist by profession and recently a film writer / director when we established 3rd World Studios in 2016, a small animation studio in Islamabad, Pakistan, and produced our first animated feature film – Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor.
Q: The animated film – Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor, set 3rd World Studios on the stage with amazing accolades and multiple awards, including an Unreal Dev Grant. Kindly tell us about these experiences, and how they have shaped 3rd World Studios.
From setting up the studio to making the film, it was all a lot of back breaking work and at the same time the most wonderfully fun and rewarding experience. We were all a little taken aback by the overall positive response we received on the film.
We’ve been huge fans of Epic Games and Unreal Engine, but recognition from them in the form of an Unreal Dev Grant was like the icing on the cake. Since for us, this was a brand new way of creating content (using UE4 for film), by the end we experienced phenomenal growth in our learning and understanding of, not only Unreal engine, but also film making itself.
We’ve since been busy working on our upcoming new film and trying to push the bar further.
Q: Since 2019, your studio has been looking into the iClone ecosystem with the Unreal Live Link plug-in. Please share with us what advantages these tools have compared to traditional key-framing, and what would you say to other studios that are considering the same iClone-Unreal pipeline?
iClone did surprise us, because it’s very well designed to make a whole lot of complex things extremely easy to use.
In fact, what we’ve realized is that all of Reallusion products that we’ve explored like Character Creator, iClone, LIVE FACE facial mocap and the rest have been designed to allow artists to create with ease and efficiency.
One of our favorite tools is the iClone Unreal Live Link plugin, as it is a “ no brainer” addition to the toolbox for people already working with Unreal Engine. Even though there’s a learning curve in setting up such a pipeline, the benefits are definitely worth it. Being able to previsualize a character’s performance in its finished state, at runtime, has been a huge advantage for us.
“iClone sits at the center of this new pipeline, as everything connects through it. With keyframing, an artist can produce anywhere from three to six seconds of finished animation per day, depending on quality, style and complexity. The iClone pipeline however, allows us to generate relatively decent animation at an exponentially faster rate.”Uzair Zaheer Khan – Director / Producer
Q: When the Covid-19 pandemic happened in early 2020, you were approached by the Ministry of Health in Pakistan to quickly help with an animated public service announcement where you used iClone Live Face, Xsens, Manus and Unreal Engine. Can you share with us what the production was like for such a fast delivery?
With Covid-19 PSA, time was a major factor and we were able to execute it faster than the given time frame, with complete ease.
“Being able to execute a short animated piece within a day, which could have otherwise taken as much as a week, is no small advantage and very exciting for us. This iClone Unreal setup took 3rd World Studios approximately 3 to 4 hours to produce the entire 45 seconds of PSA animation.“Uzair Zaheer Khan – Director / Producer
The results of using iClone with Unreal Engine, along with Xsens and Manus are so promising that we’ve decided to use this pipeline for one of our upcoming animated series project.
Q: Your team is now working on its future projects, could you share more on what the community can look forward to from 3rd World Studio?
We at 3rd World Studios, have long been focused on ways of reducing the time it takes to produce quality content. An Unreal Engine based production pipeline greatly impacted the turnaround time for our last film.
Right now we’re focused on a new film and very excited about where we are with it, in terms of the tools we’re utilizing, as well as entertainment quality vs. timelines. The future looks quite promising.