With a decade of hands-on experience as an animation director and expertise in 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder and Unreal Engine, Alireza Fattahi has executed numerous projects, delivering content across diverse media platforms. His expertise lie in creating realtime environments, directing and utilizing advanced lighting and cinematography techniques that bring life to realistic cinematic animations for games, advertisements and TV shows.
He started his journey as an architect renderer using 3ds Max and V-ray. However, he soon realized that it wasn’t enough for him. So, he began working on short-animated personal projects using the same workflows. Simultaneously, he explored Maya for rigging and animations and created several short animations and advertisements for local TV channels. During this time, he gathered a few friends with different areas of expertise and together, they formed a team of five professional animators. Their team was able to create an entire TV series in just six months, thanks to their efficiency and speed.
However, they needed new solutions and software to continue improving their workflow, and the biggest bottleneck they faced was rendering. To overcome this, they quickly adopted new real-time workflows using primarily Unreal Engine. Their second breakthrough was in the animation department, where they discovered iClone and its impressive set of tools for editing and combining motion captures, a vast library of ready-made motions, and fantastic ways of creating automated animations. Currently, they have several projects at hand, including a fan-made Batman short animation, several advertisements, and their greatest passion: a cinematic animation for a new game.
“Many indie and small teams that do not have an army of animators and technical artists to brute-force through every problem with complex software. iClone and Unreal Engine give us the opportunity to compete with much larger studios in terms of the scale and quality of our projects, mainly cinematic teasers for games, and more.”Alireza Fattahi – Unreal Animation Director and CG Artist
Q: Hello Mehran, and welcome to the Reallusion Feature stories! Its nice to have you here. Kindly introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your Batman short-animations and your cinematic animation for a new game.
Hello! I am pleased to be here and grateful for the opportunity. My name is Alireza (Mehran) Fattahi, and I am an animation director and CG artist with a specialization in cinematography and rendering. I am also responsible for CG supervising and technical directing for most of my projects.
After several years of working on various commercial projects, I decided to pursue a lifetime passion project of mine. As a child, I grew up loving Batman and it’s cinematic world and stories. Therefore, it was natural for me to choose this as the theme for my cinematic animations.
Initially, I decided to create only a short teaser, all by myself with no budget, using new and fast software solutions without traditional pipelines. After receiving positive feedback from numerous CG artists, I decided to expand the project into a full 5-minute short animation. To achieve this, I collaborated with a group of highly skilled friends from various departments, again utilizing new and fast software solutions such as iClone and Unreal Engine.
Q: You mentioned that you have been a long time user of Maya and MotionBuilder for your animation projects. Please share with us why you decided to transition into real-time animation software like iClone and Unreal Engine? What advantages do these new tools bring and what cost savings do you see?
Yes, the reduction in iteration time, instant feedback, user-friendly interface, and intuitive nature of this new technology are very appealing to work with. This solution is like a breath of fresh air for many indie and small teams that do not have an army of animators and technical artists to brute-force through every problem with complex software. iClone and Unreal Engine give us the opportunity to compete with much larger studios in terms of the scale and quality of our projects, mainly cinematic teasers for games, and more.
With tools like Character Creator and MetaHuman Creator, we can even accomplish the impossible task of natural animated faces that were once only achievable by certain big productions a few years ago. This is like a dream come true and opens up new possibilities for smaller studios and individuals.
Q: iClone has developed into a full-fledged production suite with many powerful features that now provide an alternative to MotionBuilder. Can you name some of the most used features you are using for mocap cleanup and animation in general?
The release of iClone 8 has definitely caught the attention of many experienced CG artists. Suddenly, all the powerful tools of more established software are available with the ease and intuitiveness of modern technology. At first, I couldn’t believe that with just a few simple clicks I could have a fully automated rig that works with every tool and asset in iClone. No more characterizing every character and every animation pack, which used to be a headache due to issues with scale and mixing motions, etc.
” The release of iClone 8 has definitely caught the attention of many experienced CG artists. Suddenly, all the powerful tools of more established software are available with the ease and intuitiveness of modern technology. At first, I couldn’t believe that with just a few simple clicks I could have a fully automated rig that works with every tool and asset in iClone. No more characterizing every character and every animation pack, which used to be a headache due to issues with scale and mixing motions, etc. “Alireza Fattahi – Unreal Animation Director and CG Artist
With iClone, we also have a set of awesome motion mixing and cleanup solutions that are incredibly easy to use. The automated animation tools like Motion Director/ Nav points for -walking Animations-, along with a vast library of Reallusion motion captures like the Hand-to-Hand Combat content pack are useful additions too.
All of these features make the iClone 8 a powerful tool that saves time and effort while delivering high-quality animations. When comparing the iClone suite to software like Maya and MotionBuilder, the most impressive aspects are:
- The best-in-business auto-rigging and characterization solutions.
- The ability to direct captured motions in any direction and path, with ease.
- Mostly flawless matching of every animation clip from every source, to previous, or next motion.
- Robust automated tools to correct motions in regard to noise, clipping, and other issues.
Q: As a seasoned director and CG artist, what advice would you give to other MotionBuilder and Maya users that are looking to switch to real-time software to streamline their productions?
I urge every artist to try out iClone in at least one of their projects. This software not only has every tool you need to complete your tasks, but I guarantee that you will also love their friendly and intuitive approach to complex tasks.
In terms of rendering, you will appreciate the real-time feedback of Unreal Engine and the incredible set of features that tools like MetaHuman and Quixel bring to your projects. And I believe that this new pipeline is capable of achieving the impossible by allowing us to create high-budget looking animations with a fraction of the cost and manpower. As it opens up new possibilities for small teams and independent artists, giving them the opportunity to create impressive animations that can compete with those produced by larger studios. So, take the leap and try out iClone with Unreal Engine. You won’t regret it!
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