Getting Started with Animated Virtual Reality Filmmaking


VR film-making is new, it’s exciting, and it’s tough. (Did I mention it’s new. Like really new?)

Because of this it can be daunting to get your feet wet in this new medium. When I first started a few months ago I was faced with very few guides or tutorials.

This meant two things:
– Give up and continue creating regular 3D animation
– Sit down for hours on end learning the essential tools for VR filmmaking on my own
(I chose the latter. And I hate myself every day for it.)

Jokes aside, this post will go through my pipeline for creating true VR films that run on the Vive and Oculus Rift. (Not just 360 video) It will also serve as a testament that a loser like me with no programming experience can make VR films.


Two programs have been my second home for the past few months; Cinema 4D and Unreal Engine 4.

I chose C4D solely based on the fact that I love the UI. Compared to other 3d programs the learning curve felt natural to me. However, any professional 3D program will do. The important thing is getting your animated models and rigs to UE4.

ss+(2016-07-05+at+12.50.20)(Cute little dude isn’t he?)

I’ve heard Unreal Engine referred to as a video game for making video games. I find this extremely accurate, especially the nights you’ll spend screaming at your screen until you kill that boss (aka a bug).
But seriously, Epic Games have made an amazing engine that’s completely free. The learning curve is fairly intuitive, and you can accomplish what you want with no programming.
If you want to get started checkout the Massive UE4 Tutorial Playlist Epic Games has published.
(I’d recommend just the first 23 videos for what we’re doing.)


(I’ll go more in depth on each of these programs in a later post)


So Sequencer…. what the hell is it and why is it your new best friend?

Sequencer is essentially a real-time filmmaking tool directly in Unreal Engine 4. It gives you a timeline, the ability to switch camera angles, edit, add animations to scenes, and much much more. The most lifesaving part is it’s compatibility with VR. No programming required, simply create a UE4 VR project, add a camera to your timeline, throw on your headset and sit back in awe at how much of an expert you are.
(I would have died without it)


I’ll have to make a separate post for Sequencer and VR, but if you’d like to get an idea for it’s capabilities check out this video:

Full guide for Sequencer
That’s essentially it. Again I’ll make separate guides on how to use each of these programs for VR films, storytelling in VR, guiding viewer direction and more.

In the meantime I’d recommend checking out this extremely helpful Introduction to VR Film from the beautiful people at Oculus Story Studio:

Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia. Jak is a full-time Creative Director at HeyJoeCoffee and part-time founder at StudioDisrupt.