The Dirty Barrel
Updated 3 years ago
The Dirty Barrel - Neon Challenge



Hello everyone! We are a group of programmers and technical artists who mainly work in interactive and visualization applications and renders. We currently use unity for our real time applications and saw this contest as a fun way to apply our skills and knowledge. Sadly we only heard about this contest over the winter break so we missed out on a solid two weeks of development. Hopefully you like our scene, we had a ton of fun making it and learned a lot of new techniques throughout the process.

Final Screenshots

The screenshots below are final renders for the animation that was recorded using Unity's Recorder tools.

Narrative Inspiration / Scene Conceptualization

The concept behind The Dirty Barrel comes from the love of beer and SciFi environments. After reading the overall idea for the contest we immediately started generating ideas for interesting concepts for a bar. Some of the concepts we decided on were
  1. Neon lighting to generate most of the lights in the scene.
  2. Dark, rugged feel to the overall bar, a sort of place the average person would not go.
  3. Rain and general wet surfaces.
After we decided on some guidelines of what we wanted in the scene we started looking for concept art to help our creative juices. We came across the image below , and well the rest is history.

Material Creation

Our main goal for the project was to focus on a cohesive material palette. We achieved this by creating shaders that would overlap and blend multiple materials to give the feeling of realism. One example of this technique is the floor, throughout the project we added new texture maps to the floor shader to give the feeling of dirty or uncleanliness. Scratches were also added to the floor to help this feeling.
Neon was a big goal for us; we wanted a great feeling neon that was not too over powering but would also standout. To achieve this effect we created shaders that gave off emission. We paired the emission value with a script to give us the desired flickering effect that neon signs have. These set of neon shaders came in handy to set the mood and lighting for our scene.

Production Process

Due to our shorten schedule and having full-time jobs our production process got a little crazy. Our general guide was to layout jobs for everyone to do and to focus on completing something rather than it being to big in scope.
We started off our scene gathering concept art for scifi bars, neon lights, rain and other main elements we wanted in the scene. Once we had some nice materials to work with we went in and white boxed the environment for scale and shape. We then added the doors, and some light blocking of the counter and roof of the bar. At this time we also did a light pass on the scene. We spent the next couple of days filling out the scene with props and materials to start getting the feel of the environment the way we envisioned it. We then started thinking about the characters we wanted to use in the scene. We settled on the Bartender, The Robot, and The Drone as our three protagonists. The next step was to add world space uvs to the floor since it was comprised of multiple objects. We then start placing down Cinemachine cameras on shots we that would looked good. We really enjoyed working with cinemachine and timeline and think its a great addition to the Unity tool-set. After we mocked in some shots, we started animating the characters for the scene. We started out having the robot come in through the door because we liked how it revealed the alley. Later on we decided to just dress the alley in full to showcase the rain effect as well. As continued dressing the scene we working more on refining all the elements, you will notice in the screenshots we tend to switch the floor in the bar quite a bit. Then we added in some post processing to the camera to give it the more cinematic feel and effects such as the security camera shader, drone scanner, and particles coming from the vent. The last thing we added to the scene was sound to make you really believe in the scene we were imagining.
Overall I thought our production process went really well. We laid out a small plan for what we wanted to achieve and allowed each member work to their strengths to bring this project alive.
You can follow this process below in the screenshots selection!


Most of our post-production was handled within Unity. Using the post processing stack we were able to add a variety of camera effects to the scene. We also created some camera effects such as the security cameras which gives you the feeling you are watching through that exact camera.

Cinemachine, Timeline and The Post Processing Stack

Cinemachine was a ton of fun to work with throughout this project. This was our first time exploring Cinemachine but we were able to take our animation and camera experience from work and apply it straight to Cinemachine. We found the cameras we extremely easy to setup and work with.
Before this project, our team had a combined total of under five hours working within the new timeline system. Just like Cinemachine though we were able to take previous knowledge and apply it to Timeline. We loved that the three of us could each make a new timeline with different cuts from the Cinemachine cameras with out stomping on each others foots. This allowed us to iterate on the camera selection quite fast through this project.
We used a variety of elements from the post processing stack to bring our scene to life. We elements such as: Antialiasing, Ambient Occlusion, Screen Space Reflection, Motion Blur, Bloom, Color Grading, Grain, and Vignette. We like that the post processing stack looks and works very similar to movie editing software, so it was an easy transition to get this part up and running.
Overall the experience with Cinemachine, Timeline and the new Post Processing Stack were amazing. We loved that we were able to iterate on things much faster which freed us up more time to work on the scene itself. We will for sure be using these tools again.

Work In Progress Screenshots

Below you will find screenshots of our project. We did our best to try and capture each stage of the workflow we went through.

Used Assets

Unity Store

We used a lot of additional assets to speed up our workflow. This freed us up to work on effects for the scene such as: Lighting, Particles, Cameras, Rain etc.
Shader Forge (Used for making shaders):
Post Processing Stack (Used to add post to the main camera throughout the scene):
RPG Character Mecanim Animation Pack (Used for adding animations to characters):
Retro Arcade Cabinet (Used for props):
SciFi Doors Pack Vol1 (Used for doors and filling out the scene with SciFi like props):
Sci-fi Neon Room (Used a couple of tables to give the scene a nice neon glow):
Sci-Fi Decoration/Prop Pack Vol.1 (Used to fill out scene with a variety of props):
ProBuilder Advanced (Used to white box the whole scene from design):
Neon Glow displays vol_1 (Used for a scifi display on the counter):
PBR Bar Props (Used to fill out scene with bottles, tables, and chairs):
HQ Air Ducts Kit (Used to fill out scene):
Cinemachine (Used for cameras):
Amplify Shader Editor (Used to also make shaders):
Sci-FI Space Skybox Pack - 2 (Used for skybox):
SciFi Handlight Free [HQ, Lowpoly, PBR] (Used as a prop for the robot):
Pipes Kit (Gives the scene a more industrial vibe to it):
Low poly combat drone (One of three characters in the scene):
Cyber Soldier (One of three characters in the scene):
Basic Bandit (One of three characters in the scene):
Free PBR Lamps (Props in scene):
Prototype Materials Pack (Used to provide base materials to white boxed objects):
Free PBR Security Camera (Used in combination with cinemachine to give a security camera shot):
PBR Dirty Dumpster (Used to fill out alley):
Tileable Sci-Fi Texture Pack - 1 (Used to provide base materials to white boxed objects):
Recorder (Used with Timeline to record in editor footage):

Custom Assets

Due to our short timing of joining the contest. We wanted to focus more on shaders and effects. That being said we did have to make some custom assets in order to make our scene pop!
Neon Sign: Using splines and the text tool in 3DS max, we created a neon sign for the bar. In Unity we created a glow shader to give it the feel of neon. As well as created a script to "flicker" parts of the neon. We decided to have certain letters of the sign be burnt out as a kind of easter egg for the scene.
Wires: We used wires to give the roof of the bar a more sci-fi feel to it. Since the bar is not in the best of shape, we created rigged versions of the wires that sway as if they were just broken off not too long ago.
Bar Stools: While looking for a center prop for the bar scene, we came across a free blender asset which fit the profile. In order to complete the look we were going for we rigged and animated the bar stools. This gave our scene a little extra as the bar stools are all different heights as if people of different heights were sitting there.
Alex Hicks
Unity Game Developer - Programmer
3 years ago
Is that the Sundowner?