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Neon Challenge - The Dark City
Published 9 months ago
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Neon Challenge Concept Scene

  • Introduction
  • Final Video
  • Development Process
  • Screenshots
  • Software Review

Introduction

My scene was inspired by mega city one from Judge Dredd, each sky scraper can hold the population of a town. While being self sufficient in power and resources, they were designed due to a global population crisis.
The technology for this mega city and the flying cars that inhabit it, was salvaged from an alien race, that roams the galaxy. A resource vessel from the colony, stopped by earth to take water for the mother ship. But was defeated after the world teamed up to take down the alien invaders.

Final Video


Development Process

I decided that even though the asset store was available, I wanted to use it as little as possible. The only assets I got from the asset store were: Skybox Series Free - https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/103633 Cinemachine - https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/79898 Post Processing Stack - https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/83912 Recorder - https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/94079 Other software that I used in the development of this scene, were Gimp, Blender and Make Human, I would have liked to make better looking clothes myself but didn't have the time while making everything else as well, if I did make them myself, I would have tried to make them have more of a futuristic vibe, then just generic clothes. Make human is a great piece of software, as you can quickly make human models that have a wide variety of differences, to add some difference and character to your scene. I have been using blender to make models for a couple of years, so I know how to use it and this knowledge helped me make models for my scene, fast and effectively, without having to go back and redo mistakes like I used to. All textures used were gotten from https://www.textures.com/ I got the albedo's from the site, from them I made a roughness and a normal map in gimp, to give the surfaces detail so they don't just look like flat planes. I have been using gimp for a couple of years as well, so this helped me make textures faster, this makes it so I don't have to rely on getting, the roughness and normal maps from textures. A new skill I learned in this development process was how to rig and animate a model, I am glad I learnt this as I have been wanting too for a while. This knowledge has also helped bring my scene to life, as without it I would not have had people walking around, I would have liked them to be more fluid in their motions but for a first attempt for a concept scene I am glad with my work. The part where the guy gets out the car, is the part I am not fully happy with. Mainly because it would have taken too long to animate him getting out, so I just made him appear next to it instead. I built the scene up in what feels like a logical order, get the main object done first, which was the sky scraper. Give it some details in the form of hover cars and other props on it, then it needs to be brought to life with adverts and people. Then the post processing really made a difference, in what the scene looked like. When I was figuring out what colours I wanted the neon lights, I decided to group colours that clashed with each other slightly, to make them stand out more, but not clash so much that they were unpleasant to look at. To save development time on the sky scraper, I decided to use tinted windows instead of clear glass, so I did not have to worry about modelling and texturing rooms. The generic skybox that came with unity looked a bit too clear for this scene, I have never made a skybox before in unity, so to save time I got one from the asset store, this helped save time and effort in learning to make my own. Even though I want to learn to make my own in time. I couldn't figure out how to record the timeline in unity to export it, so I got the recorder asset from the asset store which records the timeline and exports it to an MP4, I exported it at 4K, with a high bit rate as the render had artifacts in the lights. Then I took it into Vegas Movie Studio 13 and gave it credits, I then rendered that out at a 1080p video. It was credited at the end of the final render video, but I will put it here as well, just to cover all ground. "Soaring" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Work in Progress Screen Shots

Software Review

Cinemachine I set up the camera system, without cinemachine first to get a feel for what I wanted, also to see a comparison. The first set up, stuttered and did not transition smooth between each camera, it just jumped around a lot. Once I changed all the cameras out for virtual cameras, it looked much nicer, it was so easy to make it transition and blend between cameras, the only transition I couldn't do, was the last one. As the transition would have taken too long to get to it, so I just jumped to that one. Using cinemachine and having all the cameras working from one brain, made the timeline easier to manage. When I did it without cinemachine I used a single track for each camera, so I had six tracks. I might have been able to do it all from one track, but I couldn't figure it out, so it was easier to use a track for each camera. This was easy to manage but would have quickly got out of hand, if I had more than ten cameras. Cinemachine doing it all in one track was much easier for work flow, it also made the timeline look a lot cleaner.
Post Processing Stack Post processing stack is easier to use than I thought it would be, all the menus on the side look a bit overwhelming at first, but once I looked through them and decided what I was going to use for my scene, it really helped to just focus on what I needed. The settings I used were Fog, Eye Adaption, Bloom, Colour Grading and Vignette. Fog really helped to add to the scene, giving it more of dark feel. Eye adaption also helped to make the scene look darker, while making the neon lights look brighter. Bloom mixed with the emission on the textures, made the neon lights bright and colourful, some of the neon lights were too bright and over powered the camera, so I toned these down in the texture settings. I used colour grading to add a blue hue to the camera to again make it feel darker, as I was going for a twilight time feeling, making the scene darker, also helped to make the neon lights pop a bit more. I used the classic mode in the vignette settings to give the camera slight cover of black, with it being more intense on the outer edges, giving it a film effect.
Timeline
The built in unity timeline is great, as I was able to easily assign animations to models. Create animations by pressing record, assigning a position or rotation to your model. Then adjusting the time on the timeline and setting another position or rotation, it will slowly move between the two. This is how most animation are done, but it is great that it is build into unity. Then once they are recorded you can adjust when they happen, to sync up different animations to get the perfect flow. This tool helped a lot, as I did not need to rerecord an animation if I timed it wrong. I timed a few of the pedestrians wrong, so it was good to just drag and drop the animation along the time line. Once the model got to the end of the time line, it would usually be in the way so I used the activation track, this made it so the models were only active for the duration of their animation, then they would be deactivated. So they would not get in the way of other models, who were still doing their animations.
So my final thought of cinemachine, post processing stack and timeline, has to be a positive one. They are so easy to use, with very little learning curve, they also add so much to your scene. The camera control you can have with cinemachine is great, there are so many more options and features I didn't use in my scene, as I didn't need camera control that complex. Same goes for the post processing stack, I didn't even use half of the features, as I didn't need them for this scene. But the ones I added made so much of a difference, they made the scene look more realistic. Timeline saved a lot of time by being simple and easy to use, while being effective in bringing the scene to life.

Adam Craig
3D Model Designer - Designer
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