School Showcase: Unreal Engine Short Film Challenge Australia & New Zealand

In 2020, the inaugural Unreal Engine Short Film Challenge had more than 1,800 registrants. In 2022, the second UE Short Film Challenge attracted over 2200 registrants, expanded its training program and partnered with seven academic institutions across Australia and New Zealand.

Students received two weeks of free online Unreal Engine 5 animation training, courtesy of Epic Games. They formed teams, and created pitches for animated short films. The seven successful teams then had eight weeks to create an animated film, with amazing results.

Check them out below!


UTS Animal Logic

Set in a futuristic neo-Venice, Robo Ramen tells the story of a dishwashing robot who dreams of becoming a top chef. But, only when the owner has an unexpected accident does he get the chance to step up to the plate.

ArtStation profiles: Benji Barlow, Lydia Riccioni-Brown, Yuge Yang, Jessie Hamley, James Walsh, Minh Quan Nguyen, Ava Williams, James Weeks, Alvin Ding, Izzy Anastasi.


VCA School of Film and Television

In a used-car yard lives Tony, a wacky, waving inflatable-tube man, who dreams of being more than just an advertising gimmick. Spending his days flapping in the wind and peeking in the office window, Tony is mesmerised by a commercial for an all-new, shiny red convertible. Whisked away by his imagination, he dreams of a world beyond his own and a life behind the wheel. As time moves on, Tony becomes as tired and worn as the used-car yard. But when the car he’s longed for finally arrives in the dealership, Tony is forced to break his limits to protect his dream from a group of thieves.

ArtStation profiles: Hyelee Cho, Matilda Berger, Sasha Gorman, Natalie Saunders, Kent Aldemir, Luca Brisbane, Leon Tran, Moira McMahon, Ruby Ricci.


Massey University

When the crew of a zoological space station refuse to obey the ship’s prime objective, its AI takes control; unleashing an ancient horror thought long extinct.

ArtStation profiles: Alexander Walker, Antonio De Gregorio, Caleb Wright, Char Wilson, Evan Ryan, Emma Ward, Jacob Karam, Kate Raine, Rebecca Riordan.


AFTRS Australia Film, Television and Radio School

We follow two protagonists in an airlock who are living the opposing realities, literally circling each other in space and time, moving in opposite time streams. No matter how hard they try, they cannot move in sync to communicate. However, when viewed in the perspective of larger scale, we as the audience see that they are moving in perfect reverse choreography.

ArtStation profiles: Menachem Spielman, Kayla Groombridge, Ariella Broyda.


Curtin University

A year after surviving the crash of their space station, the captain finally finds an opportunity to escape the prison they once called home, while avoiding the dangerous, non-corporeal beings that now stalk the desolate wreckage.

ArtStation profiles: Melanie Tan, Maximilian Wright, Steven White-Smith, Lewis Fuller Hill, Macgregor Lawson, Jet Trijo, Hayley Zeller, Scarlett Josephine.


Griffith Film School

Nik escaped the horrors of war and found safety in a foreign land. As he explores the busy streets of a vibrant metropolis, his mind keeps shifting back to his war-torn hometown. The noise and the crowds are overwhelming and summon painful flashbacks. Disoriented and distraught, Nik is lost between two worlds: the real world and the one in his memories. But a helpful hand and a friendly face is there to support him in both worlds.

ArtStation Profiles: Maximiliaan van den Boogaard, John, Daisy Quodling, Jiang Kang, Maria Zelenskaya.


University of South Australia

When a cranky and reclusive 80-year-old man has a magical lounge room experience that sends him back in time to meet his younger self, he finds a new lease on life.

ArtStation profiles: Tommy Ford, Nigel Remillosa, Anthony Hood, Christina Rossi.


Having to quickly grasp navigating and utilising Unreal Engine 5 with no prior experience to create a short film in 8 weeks was an invaluable experience in preparing us for the fast-paced nature of industry. We learnt the importance of teamwork, fluidity and taking on new skills, and had an amazing time creating the story about our little robot chef who we all came to love and root for. Not only the students but the staff had to quickly learn Unreal Engine 5 and subsequently a new workflow and pipeline process, which taught everyone the values of adaptiveness and cooperation.”

– UTS Animal Logic

“The process of creating Deflated Dreams was a unique experience for everyone in the team, but it was also an exciting opportunity to develop our skills in a cutting-edge program we had never tried before. With the incredibly technical nature of Tony’s cloth physics and his movements, we would not have been able to complete the film to such a high standard without Unreal Engine’s real-time rendering, as we could create scenes efficiently in a fraction of the time. It was truly a rewarding experience to sit as a team and watch the final product, the fruits of our labour, come to life. It was an unforgettable experience for us all.”


“This was an invaluable experience for our small university team. There were a lot of firsts for us during this fast-paced production, from motion-capture to navigating the sequencer editor with cameras, all the while learning new software and pipelines on the fly and working hard to keep up with the deadline! We loved the real-time rendering ability as we could easily make changes and had a lot of flexibility. We felt supported by the Epic Games team and mentors at Floating Rock who guided us through this process and were always there to give advice from their experience.”

– Massey University

“The UE Challenge was an incredible experience. In addition to learning the capabilities and pipelines of UE5 from Epic’s amazing team, we benefited greatly from the mentorship of Liam and David at Cheeky Little. Coming from the world of live action film at AFTRS, we highly value and appreciate the hands-on experience gained during the program. Without a doubt, UE5, Quixel and Metahumans will be a part of our toolkit for future projects!”


“To say we learnt a lot would be an understatement, from the intensive 6-hour workshops every day for 3 weeks that taught us fundamental workflows and short-cuts to the personal tutoring with an industry professional from Last Pixel about the ins and outs of setting up motion-capture and retargeting rigs to meta-humans. We are all extremely proud of what we made during that time and are keenly looking forward to, not only for additional opportunities to work with Unreal themselves, but work on projects similar to this and seeing how the future industry will adapt to these newly emerging, amazing tools!”

– Curtin University

“We were lucky to participate in a project that allowed us to meet awesome people with a widely diverse amount of knowledge, disciplines, and strengths. It was eye-opening to collaborate and utilise the powerful capabilities of Unreal Engine and its applications in various fields in a virtual production to tell an important story that connects with a worldwide issue. It was a rewarding experience to employ past experience on the new tools given and see the exciting possibilities of a real-time production.”

– Griffith Film School

“The Short Film Challenge pushed us technically and artistically as students, the unique learning opportunity developed our capacity for collaboration, perseverance and creativity. The production of our film using Unreal Engine was an intense yet rewarding experience where we rapidly developed our technical and artistic capabilities as students.”

– University of South Australia

Want to make your own real-time short film?

If you’re inspired by what these talented filmmakers were able to do in just eight weeks, you can download Unreal Engine for free and do some storytelling of your own.

Upload your UE short film on ArtStation and share with the world!

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