Digital Learning Specialist Crosstown High - Student
My neon challenge submission
I worked on this project alone. Meaning that I did all the modeling, texturing, rigging, programming, storyboarding, filming, lighting, and editing completely by myself. I am a high school student with no formal degree in this field. However, for my day job I am a digital learning coordinator for a local high school for underprivileged youths in Memphis, Tennessee. I teach Unity, C#, and Autodesk skills. My focus has been in XR and machine learning. I’ve used unity to create XR experiences for clients like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Lausanne Learning Institute, Crosstown Concourse, and The Refugee Empowerment Program. I hope that my submission to the Neon Challenge will showcase my multiple abilities with the Unity software tool.
Inspiration and Process
I was Inspired mostly by an event in my recent past. Being a Polish American, I have an affinity for the Witcher series. That is why my character rides a horse named Streak as an homage to Roach (the horse in the Witcher series). Another inspiration is the natural world. In much of the scene there is an overarching presence of honey combs and a black and yellow color scheme. While traveling this world, you will notice how unsettling this world is. Don’t worry this is intentional, and it utilizes a psychological quirk of the mind known as the "Uncanny Valley." While modeling the villagers in the scene, I made sure that the forms and movements were just realistic enough to create a slight feeling of discomfort. Prior to making this scene I was in a car crash, and I wanted to capture the surrealist feeling of powerlessness in a crisis. You will notice that some of the villagers walk in place, this is also intentional. It adds to the feeling of something being off.
Another way I achieved this uncannines is by using unnatural proportions. For instance, the bipedal baby elephants that resemble dinosaurs have a certain quality that supersedes logic. Also, due to my Eastern European roots many of the buildings resemble communist architecture like the Seven Sisters. This kind of brutalism adds to the feel of the scene and gives a sense of unnatural confinement.
Since I am the only member on my team, I started with the modeling process right away. I focused on modular building to achieve rapid development. I also used 3Dsmax to start on the architectural elements of my scene. I used Gimp, Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator to create the texture, normal, and height maps. Next, I created the modeling and animation of the animals and humanoids. Then, I programmed the animations and the script that make the villagers walk like NPCs. To do this, I created a Navmesh for my scene and put random points on the path as objectives. Finally, I used the modular building materials to make all of the skyscrapers and houses not to mention the walls and the hexagonal paths.
The video provides an overview of this scene. The aerial shots use Cinemachine and Timeline to follow the character with a bird’s eye view with the Post Processing Stack. The close-ups use depth of field to add to the confinement. My decision to create an alternation between close-ups and aerial views is inspired by David Fincher’ s style of camera movement that follows the subject through the scenery. I used the Post Processing Stack’s ambient occlusion and tone mapper to add to the feel of the scene.
Other assets from the asset store
Apart from the required assets, I made everything from scratch by myself.