Matinee User Guide

Guide to using the Matinee editor to animate properties and Actors in-game.

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Creating a Matinee Sequence

To create a Matinee sequence, you create a Matinee Actor and place it in your scene. You can do this in a couple of different ways:

  • Click the Matinee button in the toolbar at the top of the Unreal Editor, and then click Add Matinee.


  • In the Place Mode panel, find Matinee under All Classes and drag it into the viewport.

After you have created your Matinee Actor, to view the Matinee interface and modify your cinematic, select the Matinee Actor either in the World Outliner or in the viewport, and then click Open Matinee in the Details panel. Alternatively, you can click the Matinee button in the toolbar at the top of the Editor, and then select your Matinee Actor from the list.

If you want to set key bindings for keyboard shortcuts in Matinee, you can do so by clicking Editor Preferences on the Edit menu, and then clicking Keyboard Shortcuts. Scroll down to and expand the Matinee section to view and set key bindings.

Working with Groups and Tracks

Matinee is structured around the idea of a set of Groups, each containing a number of different Tracks. A Group is associated with a particular Actor in the level.

For more information on the different types to Tracks and Track Usage, refer to the Matinee Track Reference documentation.

Creating A New Group

To create a new Group in your Matinee sequence, first select the Actor in the level that you wish to modify. Then right-click in the gray bar down the left of Matinee and select Add New Group.

New Group menu

You will be prompted for a name for the new Group - it should be unique within that Matinee sequence, and should not contain spaces. When you choose OK, you should then see a new Group

  1. If you now look at your Matinee Action in the Blueprint, you can see it has created a new variable connector with the name of your Group, and a new Object variable containing a reference to the Actor you wanted that Group to work on. It is possible to connect multiple Actors to the same Group connector, which is very useful if you want to control the brightness of a number of lights in the same way over time for example.

The little colored bar in the Group header is the editor 'Group color'. This is used for various things in Matinee to help you identify which objects in the scene are controlled by which Group in Matinee. It can be changed by selecting the Group and adjusting the GroupColor properties at the bottom of the window. Right-clicking on the Group title allows you to Rename or Delete the entire Group. Once you have a Group selected, pressing the Up and Down arrow keys allows you to move it around in the list, which can be useful for keeping similar Groups together.

Note that whenever you select a Group (or Track in a Group), the Actor in the level will be selected for you, and vice versa.

Creating a New Track

A Group on its own does nothing to the Actor it is working on. To actually modify it in some way, we must add a Track to that Group. Right-click on the Group header and it will bring up the New Track menu. This lists all the different types of Matinee Tracks that can be added. Select the track you want and it will appear within that Group. Depending on the Track class, you may be prompted for more information before it is added.

New Track menu

Some Track types (such as the Movement Track) only allow you to have one per Group, whereas others allow you to have multiple in the same Group (such as Float Property Tracks).

When you select an Actor in the viewport that has a track in Matinee, and the Matinee Editor is open, the Actor's track becomes highlighted in the Matinee Editor.

If you want to hide all the Tracks in a Group, you can press the arrow on the Group header to 'fold' it up. You can change the order of Tracks within a Group in the same way as you move Groups - just select it and use the Up and Down arrow keys.

The effects of tracks can be toggled on and off by using the checkmark box next to the name of the track. For example, in the following image, the movement track is disabled and the effects of the track will not be seen when the matinee sequence is run.

Track view with Movement track disabled


The selection and manipulation controls for Matinee are similar to tools in other parts of UnrealEngine 4.

Clicking on a keyframe will move the playback position to that keyframe and put Matinee into 'record' mode. Modifying the property of the Actor controlled by that track will then modify the keyframe value. When editing a keyframe, a little red circle will appear in the Matinee info box:

Key recording indicator

Scrubbing to a different position or beginning playback will take you out of 'record' mode and changes to Actors in the scene will not be remembered.

Adjusting Sequence Length

Changing the length of your sequence is very straightforward - simply grab the red handle that marks the end of your sequence and drag it to the new time you with the sequence to end. It is completely safe to have keyframes outside the range of the sequence.

You can also add time at a particular point in the sequence by moving the playback position to the point where you want to insert the time and choosing 'Insert Space At Current' from the 'Edit' menu.

The Loop Section

The green area highlighted in Matinee is the 'Loop Section'. This is used for several utilities within Matinee, and can be adjusted by dragging the green handles on the scrub bar that mark the beginning and end of the section.

If you press the 'Loop preview playback' button, the playback position will jump to the beginning of the loop section, play through it and then jump back to the start again. This allows you to view a small section of the sequence repeatedly to ensure its doing exactly what you want.

You can also 'stretch' the current loop section to a new length. To do this, set the loop section over the area you wish to stretch and choose 'Stretch Section' from the 'Edit' menu. A text-entry dialog will show you the current length of the section, and allow you to enter the new length you desire. Keyframes will be re-spaced over the new length of the section. You can also delete the loop section altogether by selecting 'Delete Section' from the Edit menu.

Locking The View To A Group

In Matinee, particularly when creating cinematics, it is often helpful to lock the Editor view to one of the Actors you are controlling in the scene. When you press the Lock View ( Locking button ) button on the Group title bar, it locks any perspective viewports to be at the position of the Actor controlled by that group. As you scrub through the sequence, the camera will move with that object. Also, when you move the Editor camera, it will move the Actor around to follow it. This can be useful when adjusting a keyframe for an object to look in a particular direction.

When you lock the camera to the Director Group, it will view through the currently 'active' camera. This allows you preview what the scene will actually look like in-game. Whenever you open a Matinee sequence which contains a Director Group, it will automatically turn on 'realtime' mode on any perspective viewports, and lock the camera to the Director Group.

When you add a Director Group, you can find it at the top of the Matinee Editor. The lower part of the Director Group contains a timeline.

Each Matinee sequence can have only one Director Group.

Camera Actors

When making a cinematic sequence, it can be very helpful to use Camera Actors placed in the level. Although you can view through any Actor you have a Group for, CameraActors give you additional properties to control using a Float Property Track such as the camera FOV and aspect ratio, and allow you to graphically see the camera view frustum in the Editor.

You can add a Camera Actor to the level by opening the Class Viewer, selecting CameraActor from the Actor class hierarchy, right-clicking in the level and choosing Add CameraActor Here.

Here is a CameraActor in a level:

Camera Actor

The camera mesh and view frustum will only appear in the Editor, not in the game. As you scrub around in Matinee, the active Camera frustum will highlight yellow. Each camera frustum is otherwise drawn using the Group editor color, making it easy to tell which Group is controlling which camera.

When viewing through a CameraActor with Constrain Aspect Ratio set to true, black bars will be added to the viewport to enforce the screen shape. In the Editor, these will only be added when the view is currently locked to a CameraActor.

Matinee Replication

Matinee objects that have bClientSideOnly set to false are automatically replicated from server to client. Whenever the action is activated on the server, the server sends that information to the client and keeps them in sync.

Note that this automatic replication only handles Actors with bStatic or bNoDelete set on them (that is, Actors that must be placed in the level in UnrealEd) and the Object variables connected to the matinee must be set to the desired objects in UnrealEd (not at runtime via another action). Actors for which this is not the case are responsible for replicating changes caused by matinee themselves using their own Blueprint or C++ replication code.


In your game, you may have many in-game cinematic sequences, but lighting on the characters using the light environments set up may look a bit basic and it may be difficult to really show off the models nicely. In this case, you can use custom lighting channels (sometimes a separate lighting channel for separate characters to control the amount of lights per character), and custom placed dynamic lights to light the characters during close-up shots.

For these sequences, you can use real dynamic lights because they look a little better and give you more control. You should still use very few lights, and often only one of them for casting shadows.

There is a small performance difference, but since cinematics have no gameplay to further slow down things you should be able to get away with it. You may have to have Level Designer's go into cinematic maps and optimize them a few times to get things running smoothly on consoles. In most cases, all static geometry in cut scenes (except for the ground the characters are standing on, which needs real lighting for shadows) can still be light mapped.

Exporting and Importing Matinee Data

Matinee has Export and Import menu options that allow you to export the entire Matinee sequence out to a FBX file that can be loaded into a 3D content creation package.
This allows you to use an external program to animate the movement of your Actors and cameras as well as other properties such as motion blur amount and camera FOV. Many aspects of the scene can be exported, such that you will be able to visualize your world geometry while working with an animated sequences.

When exporting a Matinee sequence, UnrealEd will attempt to export most of your scene geometry along with the animation curve data.

The following data will be exported:

  • Cameras bound to the Matinee sequence

  • Actors bound to the Matinee sequence

    • Animation Curves for certain tracks

    • Movement tracks

  • Float Property tracks

  • All Lights in current Level

  • All Static Meshes in current Level (including polygons, brush geometry and materials)

  • All Emitters in current Level (placement cue only)

Note that landscape Actors, source brush models and certain other object types are not currently supported for export.

Exported objects will be named similarly to their names in UnrealEd. After making changes to the data in a 3D model package, you will want to export the changes back to a FBX file where they can be imported into Matinee. It is important that the names of the objects in the scene stay the same during this process!

When importing the new FBX file back into the Editor, Matinee will attempt to import all of the animation curves for Actors whose imported name matches an Actor bound to the active Matinee sequence. In some cases (such as for cameras), you can also add new objects by creating them in the modeling package and exporting them to FBX format.

Key Reduction

The key reduction tool, which can be found under the edit tab, makes it easy to remove unneeded keys in the animation curve for a single track. You may have a track with several keys in the curve that all fall along a fairly straight line. Only the first and last keys are really needed in such cases. The key reduction tool can remove the intermediate keys to lessen the impact on memory and keep from performing useless calculations.

Key Reduction tool

The tool has a few properties:




Sets how far off the straight line between the previous and next keys a key can be to be removed.

Full interval

If true, the full interval of the track's keys will be used for reducing keys.

Interval Start

Sets the time to start reducing keys from.

Interval End

Sets the time to stop reducing keys at.

Controlling Matinee Sequences in Blueprints

You play a Matinee sequence via function calls in a Blueprint graph. Most commonly, this is done in the Level Blueprint to add cinematic or animated elements to a level.

To play a Matinee sequence:

  1. Select the Matinee Actor that contains the sequence you want to play from the World Outliner.

  2. Open the Level Blueprint. Make sure the Blueprint is in Graph Mode.

  3. In the Level Blueprint, with the Matinee Actor still selected, right-click in the graph. In the context menu that appears, expand 'Call Function on YourMatineeName', expand the Cinematic section, and then click Play. (Alternatively, in the context menu, start typing "play" to filter the results, and choose Play from the list.) A Play node appears, with the 'Matinee Actor' node already attached to it.


  4. Determine what kind of event you want to use to trigger the Play function. For example, you could use a Begin Play event. Add the event, and hook up its output execution pin to the Play node's input execution pin.


  5. Compile the Level Blueprint and save your level.

You can also use individual function nodes to do any of the following with Matinee Actors:

  • Change Playback Direction

  • Pause

  • Reverse

  • Set Looping State

  • Set Position

  • Stop

You can find these function nodes in the Palette, under Matinee.

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