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Unreal Engine Part 12: Using the matinee tool

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Date Added: 14th April 2016
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In chapter 12 of Rob Redman's comprehensive introduction to Unreal Engine, learn how to use the matinee tool to set up cut scenes...


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Previous tutorials

Part 1: Setting up a new project
Part 2: Introducing materials and landscapes
Part 3: Adding foliage and rocks
Part 4: Particle smoke
Part 5: Introducing the skybox
Part 6: Setting up cameras and post-effects
Part 7: Teleporters
Part 8: Adding random assets
Part 9: Destruction
Part 10: Adding sound
Part 11: Linking audio to actions and objects

An important aspect of modern gaming language is the cut scene. These can be long or short, use game assets or film, or just about anything you can imagine. The one thing they all have in common is that they are used to drive the narrative. Sometimes this can be to stop the player's control, letting them watch another part of a story unfold, but at other times it's in-game and can be used to add drama, or notify the player that something is about to happen that is of significance.

In this tutorial we will go for the second option, using game assets to have a kind of out of body experience, where the camera lifts away from the standard first person to show something in the level.

We will use the matinee tool for this and rely on trigger methods we have already learned to make it work, and I'll use the Draghorn vale scene from previous chapters, but you can use any you like.


Step 1: Plan

First things first, open up your scene and decide what it is you want to do. I want to show my player that if they get too close to the statue they might be teleported, so my cut scene will be the camera moving into the statue, then appearing in the cave elsewhere in the level.

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Plan up front as it will save headaches

Step 2: Matinee

Click on the Cinematics icon and choose Add Matinee. The editor will pop up but resize it so you can see your level and the preview viewer that will appear once you add a new camera group, by right-clicking in the grey area to the left of the tracks section.

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A new level item and editor appear once you hit add matinee

Step 3: Keyframing

Now you will have a matinee camera and its preview in your level. At 0 on the timeline, set your start position and field of view then click Add Key. Now it's up to you where and when you animate the camera. Personally I like to block out first, then refine after. If you need more time for the cut scene, drag the small green marker beneath the timeline. Don't forget to move the slider to the correct time before making changes and adding key frames. To test your animation press play to see it in the viewer.

Make sure your keyframe marker on the timeline is selected when you make changes, or they won't be recorded. You can use standard curve edits to adjust your animation in the curve editor, above the main timeline.

When you are happy, right click in the tracks area again and add a director group, which allows UE4 to play the cut scene.

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You can make your animation as simple or complex as needed

Step 4: Trigger

As with most things inside UE4 you need to set up a trigger. This is no different, so add a box trigger to the scene and resize it so it fits roughly in front of the player start point, so the player will need to step into it to begin the cut scene.

Once in place, open up the level blueprint.

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A simple volume is all that's needed to trigger the cut scene

Step 5: Blueprinting

This blueprint is very simple but does the job. With your box trigger selected, right click the node view and choose event > collision > beginplayeroverlap, which tells UE4 what sparks the action. Then with your matinee player object selected, drag off the out port and type Play. Choose that and then link up the even to the target.

Save and exit the blueprint and once back in your level hit play. Walk your character into the area you defined and the cut scene should play out, returning you to the start position afterwards.

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The simplest blueprints yields results

Top tip: Watch watch watch

Cut scenes have become a language in their own right, so watch as many as you can to learn how they are used and to what affect.

Related links

Part 1: Setting up a new project
Part 2: Introducing materials and landscapes
Part 3: Adding foliage and rocks
Part 4: Particle smoke
Part 5: Introducing the skybox
Part 6: Setting up cameras and post-effects
Part 7: Teleporters
Part 8: Adding random assets
Part 9: Destruction
Part 10: Adding sound
Part 11: Linking audio to actions and objects
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