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Neon Challenge: Gigadisc
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Gigadisc - Mark Butler - Neon Challenge Final Submission
Intro: So, for the Neon Challenge, I am going to create a cinematic from Gigadisc, a sci-fi game I have been working on in my spare time. It’s from one of the opening scenes, as the team arrives in their spacecraft on the planet, and begins looking for a suitable launch site.
Inspiration: I love Georgi Simeonov’s artwork… It’s very similar in tone to what I am doing for Gigadisc! I am going to be using my own custom assets in addition to a gang of assets from the Unity Asset Store to execute quickly and accurately in realtime.
Production Process: I finished the storyboards before I started the Neon Challenge, but everything else I put together this last month, mostly using stuff I got from the Unity Asset Store. For animation, I used Maya, MotionBuilder, and Mixamo. I built the characters using Fuse. It was a real challenge bringing it all together so quickly, but Unity is awesome for this. All told, I spent about 60 hours over this last month.
Assets/Tools: BIG Environments by Philip Schmidt Eternal Temple by Mana Station And of course Cinemachine, Timeline and Post Stack from Unity Vanguard licensed from Kitaberra Plus plenty of audio SFX by Freesound.org
Music by Leigh De Vries www.leighdevries.com Used with permission. Thanks, Leigh!
Of course, I am still not finished, but here is my submission! Thanks for watching, and best of luck to all who entered! -- Mark Butler Unity Connect: secretfileanim@gmail.com
1/13/18 Final Stretch! I haven't uploaded anything the last couple of weeks, but I have been making great progress on the scene, this weekend is the final stretch. I will plan to add all the WIP and other metadata once I am done. Taking a break for dinner, and I thought I would check out all the other submissions... Best of luck to everyone!
12/30/17 WIP 05: ENVIRONMENT PREP So, I was a fan of Georgi Simeonov's art, even before this challenge. I knew the third piece of concept art would fit in the Gigadisc world perfectly. It's almost like he did some some concept art just for me... Ha! So, as you will see here in this video, I like to setup my Unity scenes around the concept art. This really helps dial everything in for me right away:
Once I have that kind of settled, I usually head over to Photoshop to try out some quick comps, and begin to visually understand the different tones and colors that I want to work with. Of course, I am a long way from doing any real color correction, but I find it helps me maintain the vibe of the concept art throughout my work on the scene. Plus, it gives me a set of parameters and color values to refer to when I do reach the color correction stage on the video, which can sometimes be weeks or months later. More to come... Thanks for following! -- Mark

12/28/17 WIP 04: CHARACTER PREP Working on getting my characters ready for their closeup, and it's painfully obvious to me that they are not nearly ready yet! Character work is my favorite part, yet is full of problems and pitfalls that you don't have with other types of animation. Plus, it's so subjective... What looks fine to one animator may aggravate the heck out of another! Well, in any case, here is where I am at as of today. I have three characters that will be in my scene... Kameera, Ronnie and Alec. I typically work with standins for my final characters as they are being built and detailed. This is a great way to make progress on your project even if you are not done sculpting the final meshes. And with re-targeting in Unity, transferring any previously completed animation is as simple as pointing the new rig to the previous Animation Controller. Here's a screen capture of the characters in action:
And here is a better look at their models and PBR materials:
That's it for now... More to come. Thanks for following! -- Mark
12/26/17 WIP 03: OPTIMIZING FOR UNITY Made some great progress on optimizing the vehicles for use in Unity. After dusting off these old models, I realized how sloppy I used to be when kit-bashing. It’s so important to get and stay organized right from the very beginning, and I guess that is just something you learn from working on productions with a team of other artists and programmers. In addition, there were a gang of different materials, also unorganized. This is not as much of an issue when you are planning to render for film. Of course, it is a huge issue for real-time playback, so I also baked out the different sections of each vehicle to just three materials between the two vehicles, and generated the different texture maps.
After organizing the different ship scenes, I grouped different sections of the craft so I can easily show or hide the interior sections, and then, after a little nip and tuck of the polys, I selectively reduced the counts and tripled many of the hard surfaces which won’t need any further modification. Total poly count: 80k, down from 500k. Total materials: 3, down from over 50.
Definitely not the glamorous side of Game Dev, but so important to get right and lock down early. Now it’s on to the characters! Thanks for following -- Mark


12/23/17 PREPPING ASSETS Going into the long holiday weekend, I am excited to make some progress on Gigadisc for the Neon Challenge. I was looking at some of the other great work in progress, and it’s quite inspiring. So many talented people out there doing cool stuff with Unity! This morning, I am trying to get my to-do list together. I have been creating assets for Gigadisc for a long time. Originally, Gigadisc was going to be a cartoon, and so some of the assets are very high rez. The first thing I need to do is optimize the vehicles. I need to reduce these high rez version models, and bake out all the textures. There are actually two, the main spacecraft, called The Blue Betty. The Betty is used to take the team to the planet, and to deploy Stingray 7, the team's hovercraft.
I have the characters somewhat finished, and the environment as well. Will get to them after the vehicles. Thanks for following, and Happy Holidays! -- Mark
12/18/17 So, I am really excited about all the new tools and features in Unity! I am a character animator and technical director, and longtime Unity developer. I started with Unity 2, so I have been waiting for these tools for a long time!!! This last year, we produced a new cartoon in Maya using the Arnold renderer. The HD renders, while stunning, were taking an hour a frame! With over 5000 frames, from both a time and cost perspective, there was no way we could do it. After seeing The Blacksmith, and then Adam, I was convinced that Unity’s realtime pipeline was the way to go for all of our games, as well as our 3D cartoons. It took me a while to learn how to best create my assets to utilize Unity’s Timeline, Cinemachine and the Post Processing stack, but the time spent was well worth it… And I am never going back! I use Maya and MotionBuilder primarily to create my assets using Hybrid Animation, which is combining motion capture with hand keyframed animation by using layers and automation. You can check out some of my Hybrid Animation courses on pluralsight.com. So, for the Neon Challenge, I am going to create a cinematic from Gigadisc, a sci-fi game I have been working on in my spare time. It’s from one of the opening scenes, as the team arrives in their spacecraft on the planet, and begins looking for a suitable launch site. I love Georgi Simeonov’s artwork… It’s very similar in tone to what I am doing for Gigadisc! I am going to be using my own custom assets in addition to a gang of assets from the Unity Asset Store to execute my finished storyboards quickly and accurately in realtime. Well, there it is for now. Here’s a quick rough of the spacecraft in flight. I will keep updating and adding each week up to the deadline, so thank you for following, and I hope you enjoy it! Flyby Previz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijEtp4btGBA -- Mark Butler markbutler3d@gmail.com Skype: butlerdigital3d

Mark Butler
Animator / Technical Director - Other
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