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  • Writer's pictureFlorian Thess

Unreal Engine for Filmmaking Quick Tip: Animating Materials

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

In this Quick Tip, we will show you how to use Material Collection Parameter and ParamaterCollections to animate materials in the Sequencer in Unreal Engine (version 5.1).

As an example, we will look at this emissive ball hovering over the streets. Our goal is to animate the intensity of the emissive parameter inside the Unreal Engine Sequencer. How do we do that? With Material Parameter Collections!

Setup: a simple emissive material

This is our emissive material: a VectorParameter multiplied with a ScalarParameter, plugged into the Emissive Colour property of our material. Inside the Sequencer we don't have access to the parameters, so something needs to change.

We will solve this by exchanging the ScalarParameter with a ParameterCollection node which will allow us to access this parameter in the sequencer. But first, we need to create said parameter.

Creating a Material Parameter Collection object

A Material Parameter Collection object does exactly that - it collects CollectionParameters, which are accessible in the Sequencer.

To create one, navigate to your content browser, right-click, go to Materials and select Material Parameter Collection.

Rename the new object, we called it Emissive_Parameters. Open it and you will be greeted with a new window in which you can create Scalar Parameters and Vector Parameters. As our emissive material is driven by a Scalar Parameter, we click on the + icon next to Scalar Parameters and unfold the stack.

Now we define the default value (which will be animated later) and give it a name. In this example, we call it Intensity.

Let's head back to our material.

Using CollectionParameter in a Material

In order for the Scalar Parameter we just created to drive the value we want, we need to exchange the ScalarParameter with a CollectionParameter.

In the Details panel on the left-hand side, we need to adjust a few things in order to make this work properly.

First, we need to select the Collection we want this parameter to be driven by - in our case Emissive_Parameters.

Then, we need to select the parameter we created earlier in the Material Parameter Collection object, in our case, Intensity.

Click Apply and Save, and now you can change the value of our intensity parameter via the Material Parameter Collection object. Time to look at the Sequencer.

Using Material Parameter Collection in Sequencer

Inside your Sequencer sequence, right-click under your camera track, select Material Parameter Collection Track and then select the object we created earlier. In this case, Emissive_Parameters.

Click on the + icon on the right-hand side of the newly created track to add a parameter from the collection to the timeline, in our case we choose Intensity.

Click the little arrow on the left to unfold the Emissive_Parameters section where the Intensity parameter is located. This parameter can be keyframed in the timeline as any other object in the Sequencer.

And this concludes our Quick Tip on how to animate materials in the Unreal Engine Sequencer.

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