Question: Animating in UE4 for VFX? Do you use Sequencer or Blueprints? (Beginner)

Hey Folks,

It’s been a while! I’ve recently started moving over to UE4 since I want to work on more AAA geared portfolio pieces. I’m coming from Unity so I’m trying to understand the UE4 pipeline.

I’ll also be looking into Houdini. I’m interested in learning how to make Looping Fire/Smoke/Magic sims. Any tutorial links or info would be greatly appreciated!

Lastly, I’m a beginner in Blueprints but I’m more familiar with Cascade and Materials (“Shaders” in Unity).

My primary questions are (best methods):

  1. How do you spawn/toggle a VFX effect? I’m doing this for portfolio, does it matter if I use blueprints or sequencer?

  2. How do you attach VFX to geometry? (i.e. fire and sparks vfx to a meteor).

  3. How do you animate vfx motion? Is it through Blueprints, 3dsmax or through Sequencer? (i.e. Player casts spell, Meteor appears and crashes down, explosion vfx plays)


Heya! Unity can also do some cool AAA stuff, but I understand why you’d want to try Unreal as well :smiley:

For Houdini you can check this tutorial out by @Partikel

For the other questions:

  1. If you are doing some gameplay stuff, easiest would be Blueprint. If you are making a cinematic, Sequencer, perhaps in combination with Blueprint. Generally the things I use the most while making blueprints are “timeline”, “set vector/scalar parameter” and custom events. Those are the main things that drive different parameters.

  2. Blueprint - there’s no Prefab system like Unity, so you’d need to combine them in a Blueprint.

  3. Those are usually through custom events that programmers make and then I hook up different particle system to them. You can either attach the system in the BP itself and make it visible, invisible or spawn emitter at location, depending on what you need. The first option is cheaper, since the effect is already linked to the player.

That’s just some of the stuff, there’s a lot of tutorials about these things on YT, just start simple and you can gradually build up knowledge :smiley: If there’s something more specific, or you don’t understand something, ask away.


Hey man,

Aye, UE4 seems to be the standard for AAA last I recall. For me, Unity is more for mobile or for showcasing stylized stuff.

Thanks for the link, I’ll check that out!

Ultimately, I’m trying to create stuff like I would in Unity (i.e. faking it to demonstrate the VFX). I think I might use Sequencer, though I’m uncertain how pertinent it is to know Blueprint as a UE4 VFX Artist.

If it’s very important and used for VFX motion and animations I’ll definitely work towards that. If not, I’ll just use Sequencer!

What exactly do you want to make? Sequencer is for Cinematics. Are you interested more in that or like gameplay effects?

  1. are you just doing this to show off your effects? If so, then Sequencer is just fine to trigger them. If you’re actually showing off gameplay stuff, then Blueprint. Just know, if you do stuff with blueprints, most often your interviewers will judge you on how well you pulled off your BPs as well. Keep them simple enough to show off what you need to.

  2. Create a blueprint, add a mesh as a component, then to that mesh, add a vfx component.

  3. Blueprint again, just more complex blueprints.

@AntonDessov Ah ok. I’ll definitely use blueprints then.

@Travis I’d just be demonstrating effects like explosions, spells, and abilities on primitive spheres not characters. But I do understand the part about keeping it concise, that’s why I asked if I could compress everything into a single timeline. I’m not familiar with the process and I’m trying to develop an understanding atm.

Ok. I’ll look into that process about applying blueprints to objects. Seems clear enough.

Of course. You can even have multiple scenes or levels depending on what your needs are. Sequence makes it very easy for the effects to fire where and when you need them too, for optimal recording, and just for showing off and triggering your vfx, it’s the quickest and easiest way to do so in Unreal. :+1:

I’m sorry I don’t have an exact link or tutorial to point you to for the blueprint info you need, I’m still at work atm. Unreal’s youtube channel has a whole series on blueprints that are named pretty well and are easy enough to search for exactly what you’re looking for.

Also all the free examples that you can find in the “Learn” section

@Travis Eyy, no problem. I’m searching for that info now.

@AntonDessov Olrighty, I’ll look into that now.

I’m beginning to understand a little better, but I’m having difficulty with the specifics.

  1. Would I create a blueprint with a scene and everything under a hierarchy beneath the components? That seems to be the closest to a “container” or “prefab”.

  2. Is the primary driver of the “static mesh” movement “SetActorLocation”? Seems like the Target is “self” and I can’t set the static mesh as the target. The logic isn’t super clear atm. I’ll have to look into this more.

Hmm, scratch that. I seem to have figured things out. Things appear to be working as expected. I just placed everything in 1 hierarchy (Image 1 and 2). Correct me if I’m wrong.

This is what I got so far-

  1. Ya gotta drag the component into the scene THEN issue a command to it (so it always sets that component as the target; it won’t work otherwise). Use a Set Relative Location to offset stuff in local space from 0.

  2. Gotta turn off “Auto-Activate” on the Particles in the component tab (Top left). That way Toggle can switch from OFF to ON and OFF again. (Inverts starting value)

  3. Since everything is offset from (0,0,0) ya gotta copy paste the values from inside the blueprint for local coordinates. This includes setting those values in the timeline in order to offset the spheres (specifically enemy one when it animates). If ya don’t, it’ll send the enemy sphere to (0,0,0) once it begins since that’s what the timeline is telling it to do (rather than starting at (0,1200,0)

  4. You can toggle events in the timeline (value doesn’t matter; starting time does. Only accepts 1 point).


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@Travis @AntonDessov Aight, here’s what I got so far based on what I was able to research and piece together (tutorials miss nuances about order of operations which is important).

I’ve got some more questions-

  1. How do you animate a Mesh Rotation over Life inside Cascade? If not possible, would you spawn a mesh and rotate it in Blueprint instead?

  2. Is it possible to trigger a blueprint animation of “enemy being damaged animation” within another blueprint? (That way a command can be issued rather than creating another chain of nodes)

  3. Is it possible to control more than one Axis for rotation? Right now I’m using the Y axis to control the “shard mesh” angle. I was trying to use a Vector track but wasn’t having any luck. AFAIK you can only get 1 or 2 axis’s at a time for SetRelativeRotation.

I don’t see the problem in using Sequencer here, I imagine you’re setting it up for a folio piece and iteration is king… Timelines aren’t the best for instant feedback on your changes (and setting up things like material parameters/post process settings is far messier in a Blueprint).

  1. Re: Rotation, if you want to key it: Rotation/Life (with a constant curve) but if you want it to have a constant rate (use Init Mesh RotRate)

@Doggett Good point. It is definitely more work to constantly guess and adjust stuff in timeline without visualizers. I think I may just use sequencer to rotate the arcane circle mesh for now. I’ll definitely try that suggestion though.