Union’s Nicholas Wayman-Harris push Unreal Engine in new directions

(The Unreal Engine at play in video Alive)

The collaboration between editor Nicholas Wayman-Harris of bicoastal Union and director James Frost spans fifteen years, including the groundbreaking videos for OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass (Rube Goldberg Machine) and Radiohead’s House of Cards.

Their latest collaboration is a first, however: Alive for Grammy-nominated, double-platinum-selling Australian trio RÜFÜS DU SOL, was shot entirely on the Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. Also breaking new ground with the Unreal Engine virtual set is Aria, cut by Union editor/partner Marco Perez. That means no physical cameras were used.

The long-form piece, created for Gucci’s centennial celebration (featuring more than 90 looks), marks the editor’s first outing with filmmaker Floria Sigismondi and brand Creative Director Alessandro Michele.  

Alive takes the viewer on a first-person flight over snow-capped mountains, rivers, tundra, ravines, high in the sky, skimming the waters, all driven by the song’s own peaks and valleys. The song’s refrain I’m alive is apt. More resonant still are the comments on YT, asserting that the music video “makes me feel at peace, at home,” “gives us all strength to hold on one more night,” and, on the technical front, “Went in the description to check who was the FPV pilot, but ‘No physical cameras were used in the production of this film,’ that’s mind-blowing.”

“I worked with Nicholas very closely, as, with a project of this nature, the relationship between the director and editor is crucial,” said director Frost. “Nicholas and I have worked together for a long time. Hence, a shorthand and trust immediately allowed us to quickly and essentially build out the entire video using reference stills and written descriptions, which helped us translate the vision to everyone involved. This acted as our blueprint for the Unreal artists, and Nicholas was a huge part of the process from day one.” Watch below:

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Of the video’s photorealism, Frost offered, “I wanted to create something where we sensed we were utterly free from restraint. In light of what the World has just gone through the last 18 months, it almost felt like the need to create a visceral piece of work. Obviously, it would not have been possible to travel the World shooting remote landscapes, and I really wanted to find a way to explore the digital side. That’s where Unreal Engine came in.”

Wayman-Harris noted that Alive marks the first time Unreal has been used as foreground and not a background. He and Frost worked closely with band members Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt, as well as RÜFÜS’s Creative Director, Katzki, each step of the way, getting band approvals about speed, the height of the shot, position, backing left and right.

“James always had in mind that once we dropped down into the main end of the song, it would all be used as wireframes,” said the editor. “No one’s ever really seen an Unreal wireframe before. Editors usually get the Unreal shots and drop them in.”

Of his latest collaboration with Frost, Wayman-Harris summed it up as follows: “Typically, I like what James shoots and he likes what I edit. While we took on new challenges, it all worked out quite nicely.” 

Wayman-Harris also edited Frost’s new short film, the psychological thriller Almond Wood, which is currently on the festival circuit. 


Title: Alive



  • Director: James Frost
  • Producer: Dan Kent

EDIT.: Union Editorial

  • Editor: Nicholas Wayman-Harris 
  • Creative Director: Katzki 

Digital Artists / Unreal Engine: Claudia Brand & Joey Hunter (Entropico)

Digital Artist / Wireframes: David Parker (JANE Studios)

Post Producer: Rich Rama (JANE Studios)

COLOR: Company 3

  • Colorist: Matt Osborne 
  • Color Producer: Blake Rice 
  • Team Leisurely: Danny Robson, Irene Ku, Cameron Webley
  • Commissioner: Devin Sarno
  • Technical Support  / Champions: Alistair Thompson & Rachel Stones @ Epic Games, Natasha Kilibarda, Sharon Lord, Staci Yamano-Kent