Here's to all the memories that make us who we are, and those still to come.
Mem#1: Climbing my First Tree
The first time I ever climbed to the top of a tree, which is something I did as a kid probably more than was healthy. I was only four when I reached the top of the pine tree in our back yard.
My mom was not happy.
I feel like this memory is important to me as a reminder to never stop grasping and growing even as an adult. It was the first time I'd felt true achievement.
Mem#2: Burying a Pet
It's the memory of a night when a baby chick I'd been caring for died in my hands from illness. I'll never forget the way its little legs stretched out as it's body went still. I wasn't even sure when it had happened, but it had died.
I buried it that night beside the river, digging its grave with a little spoon.
Mem#3: Moving in Together
Moving in together with my now-fiance is perhaps one of my most joyful memories. We finally had a place together that was only ours.
However, within only 5 days of moving in together, we were forced to leave because of a fire (it's wasn't our fault!). I was very downtrodden at the time, but little did I know the love of my life had secret plans...
The day we moved into our new apartment, he proposed to me! Now, whenever I think back to that time, even with all the worry and hardship it is a wonderful, joyful memory. It's funny how our memories color each other. Overflow into each other.
I was drawn to this challenge because I've always found memories fascinating. The way we reconstruct our lives not truly based on detailed events, but on our impression of those events. Our feelings.
Moreover, the way those feelings color the events and even memories that are associated with them. Like the way a sense of achievement like reaching the top of a tree can erase the difficulty of the climb. Or the death of an animal from terrible illness can color the memory of your times together. Or how the surprise of a proposal can make even a disaster like an apartment fire feel like nothing more than part of your path to happiness.
I wanted to capture this feeling of interconnected memories spilling into each other.
Here are some images detailing my process:
The environments were all modeled in Blender, while the characters were sculpted in ZBrush and retopologized in Topogun2 so they could exist in a real-time environment.
Much of the environment was simply box-modeled though I used bezier curves to create the roots for the trees and the cloth modifier to create the flowing curtains, the blanket over the characters and to get the squishy hearts under the floor of the moving-in memory to sit nicely.
There was definitely some clever UV-unwrapping to be done to get the bubbles to work properly with the shader I had in mind. I'd unwrapped a sphere so that its vertices would align themselves in a grid mapped from 0-->1 in the U and V coordinates. That way, the texture applied would tile seamlessly.
Textures and Adding Life:
The basic texturing was done in Substance Painter and was fairly straightforward, with a focus on mapping several objects into the same materials to save memory space. The more complex shader crafting was reserved for the animated parts such as the bubbles. Using the UVs I'd carefully set up I was able to use a variety of procedural noises and gradients to get the desired effect.
I also created shaders for other purposes: Like those which made the grass and leaves sway, using Vertex Colors which I'd painted in Blender. Others made the water in the river flow. Others made the heart particles glow around the edges and appear cartoonish.
Lighting and Post-Processing
I tried to keep the lighting in each scene as simple as possible, since memories are simple at their core. Therefore, each memory has only one light source.
I also wanted real-time reflections, which though I know they are not realistic for a mobile game, do add a lot to the emotional feeling of the scene. Perhaps because to remember a memory one must "reflect" on it? Eh? Eh? (Please forgive my terrible pun)
The post-processing was also fairly simple, with basic Anti-aliasing, bloom and vignetting from the standard Unity Post Processing pack. There is a little more chromatic aberration applied to the 'Burying a Pet' memory to provoke the feeling of a nightmare.
For the video, I created a Dolly Track with a series of Waypoints and a Cinemachine camera to follow it. I then used Unity's timeline feature to keyframe the route, when to speed up and slow down and where to look. Because of the versatility of the system, I didn't have to worry about doing much rigging.
The sound in the video is royalty-free and can be found here: https://youtu.be/YcGEBptSSQk
Software and Assets Used:
Unity Standard Assets
Fog Volumes 3
Cinemachine & Timeline
Standard Post-Processing pack
I hope you like the memories I've created. Each of these tableaus from my past mean a lot to me and helped shape me into who I am today. None of my individual memories crafted who I am, but all of them together make up my personality. They bleed into one another, spreading their joy and pain and wonder.
I look forward to a life of making more memories with my fiance, my friends and my art. Thank you for considering my entry.