HomeAuthor InterviewsInterview with Hrishikesh Andurlekar

Interview with Hrishikesh Andurlekar

Hrishikesh Andurlekar is the author of Build Stunning Real-time VFX with Unreal Engine 5; we got the chance to sit down and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.

Q: What is the name of your book?

Hrishikesh: Build Stunning Real-time VFX with Unreal Engine 5: Start your journey into Unreal particle systems to create realistic visual effects using Niagara

Q: What are your specialist tech areas?

Hrishikesh: Game Engines (Unreal, Unity, Godot), Computer Graphics, VFX. I was a CG supervisor on animated films and VFX for about 16 years.

Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?

Hrishikesh: My path to authorship was somewhat serendipitous. I had been working in the gaming industry, primarily focusing on visual effects and game asset creation, for several years. Throughout this time, I regularly found myself sharing insights, techniques, and advice with colleagues and those new to the field. Recognizing the value of sharing knowledge on a larger scale, I started making videos and posts online about various aspects of game development. My work gained traction within the community, leading to an invitation from Packt to author a book for them. The prospect was initially daunting – writing a book is a significant undertaking. However, I recognized the opportunity to have a more substantial impact and assist others in their journey into game development, specifically VFX.

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Hrishikesh: As my company is an Unreal Authorized training center, I was already providing the relevant training for groups, one-to-one, or as part of consultancy services. So I had the content and research already done. I did spend a lot of time making simple-to-understand examples that exposed the users to as many features of Niagara as possible.

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Hrishikesh: One of the most significant challenges was ensuring that the content remained accessible for those new to VFX, while still providing in-depth insights that experienced developers would find valuable. Balancing this fine line required diligent research, trial and error, and constant refining of the material to ensure it was as comprehensive and engaging as possible.

The rapidly evolving nature of Unreal Engine also presented challenges. As updates and new features were released, it was important to revisit previously written sections to ensure the material stayed current and relevant. This was an iterative process that required adaptability and a willingness to continuously learn and update my knowledge.

In overcoming these challenges, I leaned heavily on my experience as a game developer and my understanding of the learning process. I also sought feedback from a diverse range of readers to ensure the content was easily understood and applied across varying levels of expertise.

Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Hrishikesh: Unreal Engine 5, with its advanced real-time rendering capabilities, pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in game design. Its ability to handle massive amounts of geometric detail, along with dynamic lighting effects, allows for the creation of stunningly realistic and immersive virtual worlds.

Niagara, on the other hand, is a powerful visual effects system within Unreal Engine that enables artists and developers to create intricate and dynamic VFX. From simple particle effects to complex simulations, Niagara provides a flexible and intuitive interface for crafting visually impressive effects.

As for the future of these technologies, I anticipate continuous evolution and innovation. Unreal Engine 5 and Niagara are already revolutionizing the gaming industry, and I believe they will continue to do so in ways we can’t yet fully imagine. One area I foresee major advancements is real-time cinematic production. As these technologies mature, we can expect to see more film and TV studios adopting Unreal Engine for real-time rendering, reducing the time and cost associated with traditional post-production.

Moreover, I predict further improvements in user-friendliness and accessibility. As the Unreal Engine and Niagara continue to become more intuitive and less code-dependent, we will see an increase in the number of artists and designers who can leverage these technologies to bring their creative visions to life.

Ultimately, Unreal Engine 5 and Niagara embody the future of game development and real-time VFX. They offer developers unparalleled creative freedom and open up new possibilities for storytelling and world-building. I’m excited to see where these technologies will take us in the years to come.

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Hrishikesh: “Build Stunning Real-time VFX with Unreal Engine 5: Start your journey into Unreal particle systems to create realistic visual effects using Niagara” has been crafted with the intention of bridging a notable gap in the current marketplace for resources on real-time VFX in Unreal Engine.

What sets this book apart from others is its balance between technical depth and accessibility. While the book delves into the intricacies of working with Unreal Engine 5 and Niagara, it does so without overwhelming those new to the field. It offers a comprehensive guide to mastering these technologies, regardless of the reader’s starting point.

In addition to detailed explanations and hands-on exercises, the book is built around practical projects that mirror real-world scenarios. This approach enables readers to apply what they’re learning directly, promoting a more engaging and effective learning experience. Furthermore, the book is updated and in line with the latest version of Unreal Engine, UE5, offering up-to-date and relevant insights into the software. This emphasis on current practices ensures readers are learning skills that are immediately applicable in today’s industry.

Lastly, my experience as both an industry professional and an educator is woven into the fabric of the book. I’ve designed it not just to impart knowledge, but also to inspire readers and encourage their creativity. My goal is to help them not only understand the tools and techniques but also to ignite their imagination to see the possibilities these technologies can offer.

In conclusion, this book is a comprehensive, hands-on, and up-to-date guide to creating stunning real-time visual effects using Unreal Engine 5 and Niagara. I believe that these unique aspects make it a valuable addition to any aspiring or professional game developer’s library.

Q: What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away with from the book?

Hrishikesh: Practical Skills: Above all, the book is designed to equip readers with the practical skills necessary to create impressive real-time visual effects using Unreal Engine 5 and Niagara. This includes understanding the Unreal Engine interface and workflows, mastering the intricacies of the Niagara VFX system, and learning how to create a range of VFX, from simple particle effects to complex, interactive simulations.

Problem-Solving Abilities: Working with complex systems like Unreal Engine and Niagara often involves problem-solving and debugging. The book guides readers through common challenges, encouraging them to develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are crucial in this field.

Confidence: Lastly, I hope readers come away with the confidence to explore and experiment with their own ideas. With the foundational knowledge and skills they’ve gained, they should feel empowered to push boundaries and create their own unique visual effects. My hope is that it will serve as a springboard for readers to dive into the exciting world of real-time VFX.

Q. What advice would you give to readers jumping into this technology? Do you have any top tips?

Hrishikesh: Here are my top tips for readers embarking on this exciting path:

Patience is Key: Learning new software can sometimes be a complex process and not always straightforward. It’s essential to be patient with yourself. Remember, every expert was once a beginner.

Practice Regularly: The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ holds true. The more you use the tools, the more familiar they become. Regular practice will not only reinforce your understanding but also improve your efficiency.

Experiment and Explore: Don’t be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of what the software can do. Some of the best learning comes from trying new things and learning from the results, whether they’re what you expected or not.

Engage with the Community: The Unreal Engine community is vibrant and active. Participating in forums, discussions, and workshops can expose you to a wealth of knowledge and different perspectives. Plus, it’s a great way to network and get support.

Stay Current: As with any technology, Unreal Engine and Niagara are always evolving. Keeping up with updates, new features, and best practices is essential for staying relevant in the field.

Learn from Mistakes: Every error or challenge you encounter is an opportunity to learn something new. Embrace these experiences, as they will contribute significantly to your growth and development.

Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?

Hrishikesh: No, but they can subscribe to my youtube channel where I put out videos at irregular intervals. I hope to add a lot of content in the upcoming months.

Q: Can you share any blogs, websites, and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning? What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away with from the book?

Hrishikesh: Absolutely, there’s a wealth of resources available online for those interested in deepening their understanding of Unreal Engine and Niagara. Here are a few that I recommend:

Unreal Engine’s Official Documentation: This is an excellent starting point for anyone learning the software. It covers everything from basic navigation to more advanced features.

Unreal Engine Forums: The official forums are a valuable place to ask questions, learn from other’s experiences, and stay up-to-date with the latest developments.

The Unreal Engine YouTube Channel: This channel is an excellent resource for video tutorials and showcases. Their live streams also offer valuable insights into different aspects of the engine.

80.lv: This is a top-notch site for all things related to game development. They frequently feature articles about Unreal Engine projects, tutorials, and interviews with industry professionals.

Reddit: Subreddits like r/unrealengine and r/gamedev are communities where users share their work, ask questions, and discuss topics related to game development.

Unreal Slacker: This is an awesome Discord community for everything Unreal.

Q. How would you describe your author’s journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Hrishikesh: High-quality publication. Throughout the process, I felt that Packt valued my insights and experiences. Their editorial team was constructive and collaborative, helping me shape my knowledge into a comprehensive, reader-friendly format that aligns with Packt’s educational vision.

One of the aspects I’ve appreciated the most about working with Packt is their dedication to providing up-to-date and practical content to their readers. It’s been a privilege to work with a publisher that is committed to delivering books that are not only educational but also relevant and applicable in the current industry landscape.

I also appreciated the structure and organization of the writing process. Packt’s team provided clear deadlines and expectations, which helped me manage the extensive task of writing a book, especially considering that this was my first endeavor in authorship.

In terms of recommending Packt to aspiring authors, I would absolutely do so. If you have knowledge and experience you’re passionate about sharing, Packt is an excellent platform. Writing a book is certainly a significant undertaking, but with a publisher like Packt, you’ll be supported every step of the way.

Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?

Hrishikesh: Quite a few, I hang around in the Unreal and Unity WhatsApp groups in India, I am on the Unreal Slackers Discord group, and I am a member of ACM Siggraph. I am always interested in new technology and you would find me lurking on most cutting-edge tech groups.

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

Hrishikesh: As a professional in the tech industry, particularly in game development, staying current with the latest trends and advancements is crucial. There are several tech journals and websites that I rely on for this purpose:

TechCrunch: I appreciate TechCrunch for its broad coverage of technology news and trends. It’s an excellent resource for understanding the wider tech landscape.

Gamasutra (Now known as GameDeveloper): As a game developer, Gamasutra is a go-to for news, deep-dive articles, and the latest research in game design and development.

IEEE Spectrum: This journal offers a more academic perspective on cutting-edge technology and engineering.

80.lv: This site is an invaluable resource for game developers, with in-depth articles, case studies, and interviews covering various aspects of game development.

Nature Electronics: While more focused on hardware, it offers insightful articles about the advancements in the field of electronics, which often influence game tech and other software technologies.

In addition to these publications, I also participate in various online forums and communities where professionals share their experiences and insights. Websites like Stack Overflow, the Unreal Engine forums, and relevant subreddits on Reddit are great for staying in touch with what’s happening on the ground level. Unfortunately, I am not able to attend industry events due to a busy schedule.

Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?

Hrishikesh: Writing a book, especially on a subject as complex as real-time VFX in Unreal Engine 5, required a considerable amount of planning, organization, and prioritization. Here’s a bit about my process:

Initial Planning and Research: The first step involved outlining the book’s structure and the key concepts I wanted to cover. This was informed by a combination of my professional experience, extensive research on what resources were already available, and a deep understanding of the needs of potential readers.

Detailed Chapter Outlines: Once I had a clear vision for the book, I created detailed outlines for each chapter. These served as roadmaps during the writing process, ensuring that the content was comprehensive and logically structured.

Set a Consistent Writing Schedule: Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. I established a regular writing schedule to chip away at it consistently, allowing ample time for revisions and refinements.

Prioritizing Content: With a subject as wide-ranging as Unreal Engine 5 and Niagara, it was crucial to prioritize the content. I focused on presenting the most valuable information for readers, ensuring they gain a strong foundational understanding, while also covering advanced techniques to further their skillset.

Regular Reviews and Revisions: Throughout the process, I constantly reviewed and revised the content. This helped me maintain the book’s quality and consistency, ensuring that the information flowed seamlessly from one chapter to the next.

Deadlines and Time Management: Writing a book while maintaining a full-time job required careful time management. Deadlines were set for each chapter to ensure steady progress, and I prioritized tasks based on these deadlines.

Feedback and Collaboration: Working with the editorial team at Packt was instrumental in the book’s creation. Their feedback and guidance helped shape the book, ensuring it met the needs of readers and maintained a high standard of quality.

Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

Hrishikesh: Stay connected with your audience. It’s crucial to keep in mind who your readers are, what their needs might be, and how you can best address those needs. This involves understanding their level of knowledge, the challenges they might face, and what they’re hoping to achieve.

Q. Would you like to share your social handles? If so, please share.

Hrishikesh: LinkedIn

You can find Hrishikesh’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here

Build Stunning Real-time VFX with Unreal Engine 5 is available on Amazon.com