Half M.T Studios, aka Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma, power up Unreal Engine 5 to craft a powerful Caine and Abel-style African fable with visual influences from the Italian cinema of Sergio Leone and Dario Argento.
Miguel Ortega: “We wanted to make a statement with this film. The beautiful visuals and vibrant colors are simply a red herring for the dark tone the film ultimately delivers.
“The film was rendered in Unreal Engine 5 and all the characters were designed and modeled in Zbrush and Maya, the texturing was done in Adobe’s substance painter. The terrains were sculpted and textured in Gaea and then layered with megascans. All the fabric was designed and simulated in Marvelous Designer, then exported as alembic caches into Unreal.
“We wanted to make a statement with this film. The beautiful visuals and vibrant colors are simply a red herring for the dark tone the film ultimately delivers.
“Our original intent was to cast talent in Los Angeles but that proved to be nearly impossible since Swahili was a requirement. We reached out to talent agencies in Africa and had very little success even getting a response.
“We then decided to target Audio Book translators. That was the secret ingredient. We found all our cast in either Tanzania or Kenya with all recordings of dialogue done via skype.
“Due to budgetary constraints, we were unable to fly the talent to LA so we hired another actress for the female motion capture. I did all the movement for the men. This was done with an Xsens Awinda suit and gloves. The face performances were captured in Los Angeles with MocapX, then improved upon by some of our animators in Maya.
“Editing was done in Premiere, the color in Lumetri. Since we wanted a 1960s grindhouse, spaghetti western aesthetic, we bought 4k scans of 16mm film and overlaid it onto our very sharp CG renders. The renders were then softened and run through Dehancer to match a Kodak film look.”
Watch the making-of film:
Production: Half M.T Studios
Director: Miguel Ortega
Writer/production designer: Tran Ma
Producer: Miguel Ortega, Tran Ma, Alex Alvarez
Editing By Miguel Ortega
Music: Dan Dombrowsky
Starring: Janeth Makungo, Rosalie Akinyi, Goodluck Gabriel, Kaitlyn O’ Connell