Dissident Zero (FINAL)
Updated 2 years ago
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Brett Wissemann - Unity Neon Challenge
[UPDATE 22/01/2018 - Added Links and Shader/Lighting sections to development blog - Video remains unchanged]


[Put on headphones, darken the room and enjoy!]

About Me

Hi. My name is Brett Wissemann and I’m a 3d tech and innovation lead at Croomo Brisbane, Australia. Ever since I was little I’ve been fascinated with Game engines. I used to play shareware games for hours on the old family macintosh. Soon I was making intricate, little top down maps in Bolo and by the end of highschool I’d made mod levels for Age of Empires, Deus Ex, Farcry and Half-life to name a few… if it had an editor then I was probably making a world in it!
But somehow, I’d never touched Unity.
Then, a few months ago a VR project came through at work. Our in-house developer already knew Unity and so we began. A few weeks later and we had a multi-level virtual world, with characters, plants, PBR shaders and virtual gaze interaction! That project had thrown me into the deep end with Unity and I knew I needed to learn more!
Enter the Neon Challenge… I’m an avid reader of 80lvl. I saw Veselin’s Neon article back in November and thought it was super cool. Suddenly I saw my opportunity to really learn more! (and with some time pressure! The best way!)
I really hope you like “Dissident Zero”. It represents my collective learnings from the past 3 weeks in Unity and I have to say its been fun.
[Put on headphones, darken the room and enjoy!]

Post Processing Stack

I had briefly used Post Processing Stack v2 a few weeks before on my first VR project. I’d never used timeline (I know right!?) and didn’t really know what Cinemachine was all about.
Well… I sure do now! Haha! Wow I consumed so many articles, forums and videos (By no stretch claiming to know everything but compared to three weeks ago? There were days where my head was spinning!)
The Post Stack was integral to the mood of this project. When it came time to fine-tune and tweak it all I could easily copy my master Post Profile, add a Post Overide component to the specific camera and do minor tweaks, animate the DOF, etc without changing all my other shots!


It goes without saying that none of this would have happened without Timeline. Its straightforward, robust and easy to use.
Everything was either animated, timed, blended or arranged on timeline.
When I hand keyed the Police Cars I later converted the Raw keys to clips and slid them along to better suit the shots.
I am BLOWN away with how easy it is to blend animation and cameras together.
I used a lot of free mocap and believe me I was worried about how I was going to choregraph, trigger and match it all up until I got into timeline. (Position and rotation root offset for the WIN!) Wow... it was so easy!
I love. Love. Love that while you’re in play mode you can actually move clips and sounds and stuff around. While using timeline. While seeing the Play mode result of the Post Processing Stack (Motion-blur, dof, scripted plugins, etc.) While tweaking sound effects! Haha! Perfect!
If you’re still making films in offline editors... I’ve changed sides. Real-time all the way. (+ Cinemachine!?)


Yes you can make movies without it. Yes you can script cameras to do what you want till your going insane. Or. You can spend some time (I spent a day) learning Cinemachine and totally kick some movie-making ass!
  • Why? Because Composition that's why… You’ll never need anything else!
  • Used it for adding amazing hand-held noise - That you can control!
  • Dolly tracks! Enough said!
  • Absolute time-saver!

Inspiration & References

The world is full of amazing people, places and things - I’ve always loved letting my imagination run wild and thinking “What’s around the corner?”...
Movies let you escape but I find Concept Art charts new territory especially when there is little to no budget - that's why I have HUGE respect for all the concept artists out there. As mentioned earlier on in my dev blog, these are the ones I took most of my inspiration from:
  • - Tall BG Buildings - Nicolas Bouvier aka Sparth
  • - 3 Spaceships - kyo2874
  • - FG Rooftop - Romain Jouandeau
  • - Red Stacked Sloped Base Structure - Paul Chadeisson
  • - Dam - Shino Yagami
  • - Sunset - Guillem H. Pongiluppi
Movies As for movies... I think the inspiration is pretty obvious:
  • Fifth Element
  • Bladerunner
  • Cyberpunk 2020


What a project - So much fun and I’ve certainly learnt a heck of a lot.
In future I’d love to collaborate with others! There is just so much talent in this one challenge. It’d be pretty hard not to create something epic!
As an aside - I do have a wish list of features I’d love Unity to implement in relation to Timeline specifically now that I’ve cut my teeth on it. But I’ll take to the feature requests section of the forums to do that.

Unity Assets

I used as many free Unity store assets as I could - I also gave in a bought a few other awesome ones… can’t believe how massive the unity store is!
[Refer to this doc for links]
- Cinemachine [FREE] (ESSENTIAL - Control your Cameras)
- Post Processing Stack [FREE] (ESSENTIAL. Get it. Camera effects!)
- Hx Volumetric Lighting (PAID) (ESSENTIAL. Fog, misty lights, sunrays, etc.)
- Spline Editor (PAID) (For animating things along splines)
- Pistol Mocap Starter (PAID)
- Rifle Mocap Starter (PAID)
- Aquas Water Lite (PAID)
- Free Real Skys [FREE] (Great simple skies!):
- Pipes Kit [FREE] (So many types!)
- FPL Male Character [FREE] (Odd name but awesome asset)
- PM-40 Gun [FREE] (I changed the ending & didn’t make it into final scene):
- Concrete Blocks [FREE]
- Steel Window [FREE]
- The Wasteland Lite [FREE]
- Yughues Free Metal Materials [FREE]
- Raw Mocap Data [FREE] (Awesome animation Library):
- Foam Textures [FREE]
- White Smoke [FREE]
- Sky 5X One [FREE]
- Lens Flares [FREE]
- Water FX Pack [FREE]
- Recorder [FREE]
- Instant Screenshot [FREE]
My Project is full of unused imported assets as I tested and deleted free packs - If you see any assets that I have not listed here please let me know and I will include it! (Otherwise this list would go for another page or two!)

Other 3D Assets

[Refer to this doc for links]
- “Futuristic Car” by Dev Anand [FREE]
- “MP7 Next Gen” by Verge Art [FREE]
- “3D Spaceship Pack” by Tech Level [FREE]
- “Sci Fi Building” by YG3D [FREE]
- "Bomb" by Heedongq [FREE]

Materials / Shaders

All Materials where either created by me using substance designer or adjusted and exported in Substance Player after downloading suitable free materials shared on Substance Share.
the most amazing thing was that towards the end of this project I discovered you can actually import the .sbar files straight into Unity and after restarting unity, you can tweak all of the exposed procedural parameters INSIDE Unity!! that easily halved the look dev time on shots where I needed to tweak materials and lighting - especially wet surfaces in conjunction with Post Stack 2's Screen Space Reflections using a deffered, linear setup! Amazing.


I love lighting. You can tell so much story with just one light in the right spot... the fun is in figuring out where to put it and how to adjust it. I come from 10 years of Offline rendering with Mentalray and Vray. Since working in Unity, with real-time lighting, shadows, shaders and atmospherics... I have never felt so free creatively. Wait time are as good as gone. I had decided early on to go with PCRTGI but my scene was so dark most of the time and the Post Stack was so good at grading my shots that In the end I liked the amount of contrast I got from only baking the walls of the hallway and leaving everything else non-static and unbaked! I ran out of time to really make the lighting pop but I was still impressed that I could even get a decent result with the little lighting I did do! One thing that did plague me towards the end was trying to get the shadows to render far enough but I figured that out after reading the excellent documentation provided - It was all under the Quality Settings in the Shadow > Cascade settings (Probably overdid it and will probably tank any other machine... whoops. No mobile build for me! haha!)


It was so hard to decide - but eventually I needed something to adjust Timeline and all the shots to.
This was ridiculously easy with timeline - Drag and Drop and Fade in / out! The winners were two tracks from the amazing Robert Slump!
[Refer to this doc for links]
- “Epic Trailer” by Robert Slump
- “Cinematic Epic Action Trailer” by Robert Slump


The night before it was due I sat on and started plugging in as many sound FX as I could… It was great to hear it slowly but surely come to life.
I didn’t sleep that night… and I do hope Unity adds some more sound component control to Timeline… but we got there in the end:
[Refer to this doc for links]

Created Assets

The great thing about Unity is that even without a lot of modelling you can essentially make a WHOLE movie and then replace it bit by bit!
I really only modelled the base structure and layout of the Environment, City and Dam. The rest was crafting the sequence using the tools Unity provided and arranging a lot of premade assets.
I think Unity and I are going to get along just fine because instead of getting bogged down making assets, I can get stuck into the big epic stuff so much sooner and not lose that creative momentum we only have so much of.
Cheers guys!
And thanks Unity.


(NEARLY) FINAL SUBMISSION (2018/01/15): Final Video is uploading... again!! [Hang in there!]

4K will have to wait... my computer is choking on it. :( So its going to be 1080p... for now.

Work In Progress Log #17: [2018/01/15]: All done! Time to upload!

STANDBY - Video upload due today!!! [WATCH THIS SPACE]

Work In Progress Log #16: [2018/01/15]: Last mad push!

Just some teasers... I've been going flat out. Weekend is gone. Doing final audio, music and detailing. All feedback is appreciated! Cheers!

Work In Progress Log #15: [2018/01/13]: Soldiers, Explosives and Timeline.

Basically Working my way through the sequance now - Polishing and adding things as I go. Pretty happy with the city scene and shot flow now. Basically this post is a screenshot dump :D
Actually one thing - Using Timeline all day has really made me wish for a few things though! Brett's Wishlist: - Ability to slide Track Groups along the timeline - effectively "time" offsetting any clips inside. - Ability to Parent or link Animation Tracks (or even better Track Groups) to Cinemachine Cameras in the Timeline. So when I move a camera along the Timeline, the Track group/s or specific animations stay with it. - Ability to copy a clip and paste it where my cursor or the current timeline playback marker is (pretty please!) - Ability to colour code things in Timeline! If anyone knows of functionality that helps in these ways I'm super keen to hear from you! Also hit the Like button if you "Like" what you see! :D

Work In Progress Log #14: [2018/01/12]: Wish I was working in a team right now... Ha!

So. Much. To. Do. This is going to be a MASSIVE weekend... but it'll be worth it :D Just did a pass on the traffic (no more boxes!), the water and the atmosphere and thought I'd save this bad boy out... My first screenshot! [UPDATE 2]
I know right!? gif, gif, gif, gif... Screenshot!!! Boom! (You're all falling out of your seats right now) Not really happy with the sunset currently. It's lost a bit of that gold colour... but on to the next scene [The night is young!]

Work In Progress Log #13: [2018/01/10]: Really pushing each camera now...

Mainly just worked on choreographing the police cars, our hero's animation and animating the DoF. Really enjoyed this bit - Now to stop changing the story every time I sit down to work... Ha!
At this stage though I have a LOT of texturing, detail and polish to do... Also, these were some last minute useful links I found for animating in Timeline and using Cine's Dolly. Also some tips about animating DOF: & & (Pretty much all you need to get into animating with timeline)

Work In Progress Log #12: [2018/01/08]: Freeze! Your Surrounded...

Been working on the final scene and have also made a prefab Police hover car! (then duplicated it). Then I animated the flashing Lights then paired the animated cubes with Point Lights and added Lens flares to those. mainly spent my time in composition, lighting and animating the lights.
Thinking I won't reveal the main character so obviously - I like the idea that you don't see his face... going to be a tricky shot to pull off though if I don't show his face... Might do an over the shoulder shot instead. And push his acting a bit too... [blegh] Definitely going to have to animate the camera with Cinemachine because the scene isn't feeling tense enough - he is surrounded by cops after all. Thinking I'll slowly bring us in tighter as though we are pressing in on the main character... Would love to hear your thoughts guys!

Work In Progress Log #11: [2018/01/07]: Lens Flares Everywhere!

Took a leaf out of Michael Bays book... Lens Flares. Lens Flares everywhere. Also made my own torchlight texture in Photoshop and plugged it into the Cookie slot of each real-time gun light! Don't think I'll leave this scene in the final but it looks cool!
I'll do more camera work now (7 odd to go) and then the last 7 days will be texturing and city detail!

Work In Progress Log #10: [2018/01/04]: All the FX!

I've started using the HX Volumetric Lighting Plugin! Didn't spend much more than couple minutes with it but already I'm pretty impressed with the result! I've also hacked and changed one of Unity's old Water FX prefabs (Soon to be deprecated?) and modelled a new water sheet to match my dam wall for the causeway! Then I spent (too long... 10 days to go!) trying to learn Spline Editor plugin working and only in the last few minutes was I finally able to control speed and path of any object along a spline and even have random branches at play... again early days but I've now got a great (cheap) traffic system to play with!
A lot of populating and texturing to do now! I also revised my script and have exactly 15 shots and as many animations to pull together! Now I'm thinking this track might really work!
Wow this is gonna be a stretch to finish! :D

Work In Progress Log #09: [2018/01/03]: Make it sound EPIC.

[Turn up your speakers for this one!] Really psyched to start playing with sound - but if I jump the gun to early... I'll probably lose time on making the environment amazing... 12D 18H to go!!

Work In Progress Log #08: [2017/12/31]: Finished Camera work!

I'm pretty happy with where the sequence is going and even thinking now that maybe once we're all into the last week, that I'll be able to give people a choice over how the sequence ends! Will be pretty easy to adjust cameras once environment and shaders are all done! Happy New Years Eve!!! (You probably won't hear from me tomorrow...)

Work In Progress Log #07: [2017/12/30]: It's coming together!

Here's a sneak peak at what I've been "directing"...
You really can mke DoP calls and look at storytelling like a director to pull off the shots you want! I watched a heap of Unite and siggraph videos - which got me super excited - especially the one by Adam Myhill! They made it look so easy and tbh it really is!! I haven't finnessed these shots even that much. I did have the two closeups of boots seperate but thought I'd group them... 30 secs later... Done. Here's a few I watched and listened to over the past couple days: - Some handy little features explained in depth. - Siggraph talk on Real-time Cinematics & Storytellingwith Adam Myhill [My new hero! :D] - Cinemachine basics! - Timeline and Cinemachine.

Work In Progress Log #06: [2017/12/29]: Real-time Roach!

Didn't do much today... except get my roach animating in real-time! And some super secret stuff I can't show you! (Well I will... but not right now :D )
Basically been having a lot of fun learning cinemachine and timeline... still a few things that frustrate my efforts right now... but otherwise guys its gonna be good! For now... Enjoy the animated roach... [gross]

Work In Progress Log #05: [2017/12/28]: A Rigged Roach!

Feeling good about the scale of my scene! Today decided to focus on a bit of storytelling! Haven't touched Timeline or Cinemachine before so thought I'd better bite the bullet and start learning!
In the mean time I needed something to choreograph as I explored Timeline... Back in Log #00 I scripted out that I wanted a roach coming into view and being scared off as our hero runs past... well this is that roach! Now I'm in Unity trying to figure out how to trigger it! Thankfully unity had no problems whatsoever importing baked animation from 3dsMax cause I can see it in the inspector! Huzzah! I'll try to get the real-time animated little fella up here to view later today!

Work In Progress Log #04: [2017/12/27]: Importing First Assets into Unity!

So I'm finally in Unity! [I know right!? You just want to see cool stuff already! ] Because I'll be modelling a few very specific things for this challenge, I had to establish my pipeline first (workflow from Max to Unity) including Scale, Naming conventions and an Export process. Because I name everything before I export to Unity I can now easily make prefabs in the engine using Emptys and simply update the FBX file itself outside of Unity directly by copy/replacing any Max model using Jos's handy dandy 3ds Max script! So good man - Thanks again!
So far I've imported a few key objects I can instance via prefab, I've adjusted sun position and linked this to the skybox, Messed around with Unity's shadow settings because I couldn't see any on the otherside of the river and played around with default fog and Unity's Post Processing Stack - Lots of fun! Next I'll get myself excited and throw some initial shaders on everything, do some modelling of the rooftop and corridor and maybe install some cool lighting FX! Any questions? Fire away!

Work In Progress Log #03: [2017/12/26]: 3D Block Out!

Boxing Day!! Cricket, Beer, Prawns and Pork Belly! [Soo full... GROAN ]
I've completed a basic 3d layout of objects to try to match my concept in 3ds Max. (About 2 hours of fiddling around) I am most comfortable in 3ds Max as a 3d Modelling program but have only recently begun dabbling in real-time engines so all pretty straight forward so far... Although back in 2001 I was making my own Deus Ex levels using the SDK Editor hidden inside the program files... lot of fun! Was saving to floppy disks!!
Anyway my workflow so far has been: 1. Establish scale - 3ds Max units to cm, create a Box or Biped about 175cm tall and 45cm wide, Choose an item for the middle of the scene 0,0,0, (I chose the Dam) then build out from there based on your Concept. 2. Play with composition (I have already drifted away from my Photobashed concept art) Using the "Rule of Thirds" I tend to build my scene from a set camera and then fill in the blanks once I have to show more if I leave that camera. 3. Name my temp boxes (eg. sm_Dam, sm_Tower_Other, sm_Train, etc.) 4. Export everything to an FBX using this script (Thanks Jos!) - I've used it before and its SUPER fast for updating FBX assets all at once to same or seperate objects! 5. And Finally... start playing in Unity! (Been hanging out to do this all week!) Any questions so far I'll gladly answer them!

Work In Progress Log #02: [ dec25]: Photobash Concept!

MERRY CHRISTMAS MORNING!! At least it is in Australia! It's 10:30am, 33 degrees celsius - Steamy with chance of a summer storm later!
Well... in-between breakfast, opening presents and a swim in the pool... I've finished what I started last night! I give you... My Photobashed Concept! [SEE ABOVE - I'll always pin my latest progress at the top ] I must acknowledge the following artists who's concepts I used for this "picasso" or... "frankenstein": - Tall BG Buildings - Nicolas Bouvier aka Sparth - 3 Spaceships - - FG Rooftop - Romain Jouandeau - Red Stacked Sloped Base Structure - Paul Chadeisson - Dam - Shino Yagami - Sunset - Guillem H. Pongiluppi - Few Random Rivers and Dams - Google/Wiki
Merry Christmas Everyone! And as always, feel free to comment & encourage!

Work In Progress Log #01: [dec24]: Inspiration!

Well this is my first ever CG challenge and my head is already spinning with ideas! And damn have you seen the other entries!? But like all good beginnings, first things first... time to lose hours of my life on Pintrest, Artstation and Google Images... [Edit. 3 Days later...] I present to you... my Pinterest Board! LINK [Anti-climatic much? ]
I've pinned my Inspiration board at the top - Whenever I feel short of direction I'll come back to these points of truth. Next I'm going to make a Photobash of some of these concepts and try to come up with something "inspired"... I'll probably doodle around in 3ds Max too... :D

Work In Progress Log #00: [dec23]: Initial Idea.

[ACTION SEQUENCE] Its quiet. Dripping water. Closeup of a roach on a pipe. Its twitches it antennae. We hear boots pounding on wet concrete. Rack focus to a man as he runs past the camera. Its a tight corridor and he bounces of the wall as he takes the corner at a sprint. He's nearly there! We track with him as he runs towards a door to the outside. Suddenly he bursts through the door and we see a huge vista! We're on the top floor of a mega-structure. We stop to take it in. Suddenly we look back into the dark corridor and see flashlight beams approaching. A decision. Fight or Flight? No. There's too many of them... The man jumps up onto the ledge... pauses. Then steps off. Cut to Black. (Ideally 30 seconds tops...)
As you can tell... I like Big. I like Epic. I like Dramatic.
I want to test my (and Unity's) ability to pull off a massive, epic environment while directing my first real-time short film! Bring on the cinematic action! I also have access to a decent mocap suit, however based on some of the free plugins on the Asset Store we'll see how we go! Expereince with Mechanim anyone? As for the "Epic Vista" I want to reveal, I'm thinking a sci-fi city built on a river. I've always been facinated by how we live with or change our environment so I'm also thinking of including a dam or wall or something. If I can I also want to tell alot in that short amount of time - Transport sytems, architecture, weather, rich vs. poor. A lot of fun to be had! The rest will come from inspiration or imagination!
As you can tell... I also like biting off more than I can chew.


My name is Brett Wissemann. I am a 3D Artist at Croomo, Brisbane Australia and I've been working in the creative industry since 2008. I studied at SAE Institute Brisbane and graduated with a Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment majoring in 3D Animation and I've been having fun ever since!
I decided to enter this challenge after I realised I needed to learn more about Unity for work. We have just finished our first VR Project in Unity and our first AR project in Unity but WOW do I have a lot to learn!
I've always loved Concept art, CG Art challenges and watching how artists develop their concepts or ideas from small beginnings through to how they tackle the artistic and technical challenges.
Yet somehow... I've never entered a challenge myself! Well I'm taking the plunge! I have ten days off over christmas so I'll see what I can do in that time!
I really look forward to finishing this and seeing everyone elses entries take shape! PLEASE comment and provide feedback as I go! It all helps!
[Cue future synth playlist: PLAYLIST ]
3D Technology & Innovation Lead - Other
2 years ago
3D Technology & Innovation Lead
Nathaniel VenturaYeah I'm sure it'll be great. The animations look fantastic, really caught my eye.
What did you think Nathaniel!?
2 years ago
3D Technology & Innovation Lead
John SietsmaAmazing work, especially since you were learning at the same time.
Well thank you very much John - I learnt an incredible amount and was surprised at just how much documentation there is! and the sheer amount of free resources and videos!
2 years ago
3D Technology & Innovation Lead
pgoodwin88Nice camera work!
Thanks Pat I really appreciate the feedback! Any other thoughts? Maybe things I could've tried differently?
2 years ago
3D Technology & Innovation Lead
Farrukh AbdurVery nice result :) Good to see it finished Reminds me maze runner :)
Thanks Farrukh! Yeah I was worried I woul have time - bit rushed in the end but it is what it is! On to the next creative challenge! Your Droid Zone looks fantastic too! And such great continuity across your materials and assets!
John Sietsma
2 years ago
Unity Evangelist
Amazing work, especially since you were learning at the same time.