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Final Video:
Where will the humans survive in future when earth is full of water and there was no land !!!!

One line story:

Aliens are unable to found humans since they are living inside whale with "Bio Mechanics (Machine + living body)" technology and once humans enter the Ocean even the largest animal on the planet (WHALE) is not spared.
To share with my friends i have made short trailer video, please have a look

Please read further for full concept and inspiration.

Highlights from the video:

Introduction:

My name is "Nataraja Perumal", A Software Professional with an experience of 5 years in Python development projects and for this NEON challenge my team has only one member, that is me :-)
Few years back I used UNITY to develop few basic mobile games for android. Later to have more knowledge on mobile game development, I have taken courses from "Udemy". Due to my official work, I could not able to contribute much on mobile game development and work on it consistently. Then I started spending a minimal quality time on this development. I learned basic modeling using open source software called BLENDER
As a surprising chance on December 1st 2017, I got notification related to "UNITY NEON CHALLENGE", which involves only the development of game environment, I was much more interested in taking up this. It gave me a confidence that I can give the best of mine in this.
When unity launched the TIMELINE and CINEMACHINE tools, I watched the tutorials many times and implemented those in sample projects. It was really fun to work with CINEMACHINE, but never implemented real time in my mobile project because still I'm figuring out where to start since currently I'm following "Trash Cat" project to develop mobile game which is not developed with TIMELINE and CINEMACHINE.
I thought that this is the correct time to learn and use for something good in my project so I have taken this challenge seriously. I hope this challenge will provide me a great scope to learn more and deep.

Production Process:

Step 1 - Concept Inspiration

Time Scale: December 1st 2017 - December 3rd 2017
First I gone through rules and scope of the challenge many times and made clear a note of those requirements. Before starting the project, I was clear that I'm going to use lot of stuffs from free/paid assets from asset store, even though I know basic modeling it will take more time to model from scratch and to make it more realistic it will take even cost more time.
As I'm just beginner level in blender, I thought I can able to modify any already existing models, it is very easy instead of developing the entire project from scratch. I have chosen this to reduce the time in basic model development and investing the same in other creative areas.
For free assets I didn't found anything interesting so i went for paid assets and at the beginning of the challenge there was so many assets are in 50% discount (till December 15th 2017). So I decided to use paid assets which will be more realistic which will suite the theme of this challenge. To start with paid assets I went through all the discounted assets and found one asset which looks very interesting. The asset is "Bio-Mechanical Whale".
When I saw this model for the first time, a concept flashed in my mind. I'm going to create futuristic scene with this as main model. I decided what happens if this is a Future Home of the human beings or a secret human base. When there will be no land and everything will be covered by water because of nature calamities such as global warming, Tsunami, etc. and a parallel alien invasion to earth.

Step 2 - Concept

Time Scale: December 3rd 2017 - December 5th 2017
Theme: Human survival in future.
The story begins in year 2077(Human life in future), where the earth completely immersed in water and resembles as WATER WORLD and Aliens try to invade and conquer earth. As mission of attack against human, an Alien Ship is searching for "Human Life" above the sea water by scanning over it.
They were able to find the only ocean living species like various kinds of fish, turtles, octopus, whale etc. but unable to find any humans, therefore they are sending signal to other aliens home base, that they were unable to find and human species and the area is clear.
Then showing some secret base where the humans are living, which has the own power generator, living and control rooms, finally reveling that whole base is in underwater and inside whale (which is Biomechanical - half machine and half real whale controlled by machine as its central operating system). This makes human to hide from Aliens and their attacks. Even in alien scanning it is recognized as whale.
At the end from Biomechanical Whale launches a missile to destroy the above Alien Ship as surprise attack, which is the end of the story. It was my own concept.

Step 3 : Assets and Materials preparation

Time Scale: December 5th 2017 - December 15th 2017
First i bought "Bio Mechanical" whale asset from asset store, then after that i need water for my whale, to get the realistic effects again i need to go to asset store only, there was two options for me to purchase whether to get "Aquas" or "Suimono" water system, i went with suimono since both has offers at the time.
Previously i bought many assets from store in discount times, that also helped me for this project.
Whale Preparation:
When i bought the Whale, it was looking as below,
But i need to modify the model according my need with my basic skills in modeling, i used blender and mesh editor in unity, the result is, check below
This is really an challenging part for me since the model i modified is not perfect, it has so many black holes, look the below picture
What i have done is to make two separate meshes, one for inside view and one for outside view therefore covering all the holes in it.

Playing with waters:
Once i started to play with waters it was an fantastic experience, it (suimono) was so much real, initially i spent most of the times watching the beautiful waves and underwater effects it brings to life, check the video

Other Assets:
To show the base like structure i need other scifi models, so i have choose one asset that suits my need "Sci-fi Design Kit", it has so many varieties in it.

Step 4 - Making the scene

Time Scale: December 15th 2017 - December 31st 2017
My scene consists of three sections
  1. Open space scene
  2. Secret base scene
  3. Underwater scene
Designed the scenes and with the following looks,
Please note that all the sections are inside single scene only.

Step 5 - Using Timeline, Cinemachine and Post Processing Stack

Time Scale: January 1st 2018 - January 16th 2018
The actual implementation starts on January 1st one (New Year), initially i thought i should not write single line of code for this project and everything i will do it in Timeline but ended up in using script for some simple purposes.
Cinemachine:
Everything starts from camera only, so i also started seeing tutorials again about cinemachine and implementing side by side, it was really fun working with Dolly Tracks, it was like making roller coaster game inside unity scene editor :-)
I have used dolly tracks in most of the places in this project just because it was simply amazing, please see the following video to see the use of dolly track, we can make an Hollywood like camera movements by using few mouse clicks, it was so much easy.

I ended up using around 45 virtual cameras for this project.
Timeline:
It is true that we can easily make any cut scenes and gameplay using Timeline, i created the following separate timeline tracks for different scenes, i separated this mainly because it is easy to work with single scene at a time,
  1. IntroCamera
  2. SecretBase
  3. InsideWhale
  4. Final
  5. Exit
Started working on one timeline at a time so that whenever i want to playback i can easily play back the needed scenes alone.

I agree that arrangements and data in timeline are quite complex, i lagged little bit in arrangement since my first motivation was to complete the project within time, so i have added the clips and removed the clips whatever i felt that was correct at the time of implementing.
Initially i don't know about the Control Tracks, So to combine all the different timeline tracks i have used simple script which will call the assigned timelines one by one,
Finally the day before the deadline i came to know about the control track and timeline inside timeline, this made by job so easy because we can easily control the entire scenes with the single timeline and also we can add the music easily for whole scenes
Videos of making animations in timeline:
Animating and controlling the character directly in timeline instead of doing it in mecanim
Animating the final whale sequence in timeline

Post Processing Stack:
I think no definition needs for this term, it simply makes the game from OK to Beautiful state by just few mouse clicks, simply add "Post processing volume" in main camera and adjust global settings.
To be frank i don't understand the most of the advanced settings in this, but i do know that enabling will make the game go boom. I know basic settings like Depth Of Field, Motion Blur, Bloom, Chromatic Aberration and basic color grading.

Step 6 - Audio and Audio Mixing

Time Scale : January 15th 2018
I completed all the animation works on day before the final day of submission so i don't have enough time for proper audio and mixing, first i will take one timeline scene and watch it multiple times and i think of sound that should go through the objects in scene, for example, if my ship is flying over clouds then the cloud sound be there, once i know what sound should be there then i will go to "https://freesound.org/" website.
I will start searching the required sounds and make sure that the sound is under commercial purpose, if so then i will import the sound in my timeline and check that it is making good mood in scene or not.
For sound effects i directly added the respective sounds in respective timelines, check the below screenshots
And finally i went through the already purchased "Universal sound FX" and "Mega Game Music Collection MP3" pack and heard all the musics and finally chosen five music tracks for this project, with trail and error method i have chosen best music from the collections i have.
Initially i wanted like thriller music background but ended up using energetic musics that i have, it is also quite good.
Finally, i placed all the music in master timeline which controls all other timelines, which makes the background music job very easier without using single line of code, all thanks to timeline

Challenges Faced:

  1. Initially i bought suimono water system thinking that it will work in between "above" and "under" water effects, like looking outside from the underwater aquarium type, but while implementing only i came to know it doesn't support that which is the main theme of my project but done some workarounds to fix this.
  2. Faced issued animating characters in timeline, that at some point the character is moved to origin position, so reduced the movement of characters and implemented static animations in characters, i'm not sure whether the issue with my models or not but i don't find time to analyze on this.
  3. I don't know how to call the script from timeline at a specific interval of time, to achieve this, i have created empty game object and attached the required script and implemented the script functionality in start method, from timeline i have activated the game object at the required interval.
  4. Like Activation track, it is good to have deactivation track also because for deactivating game object i need to depend on activation track for short clip.
  5. It is better to have more control on TIMELINE like calling some function in script at specific time in timeline or instantiating the script at specific time, currently in this project i have called specific script at specific time using activation track only.
  6. While animating in timeline whether the animation track and manual animations should be in specific order, like below, I'm not aware of the order, if it is reverse order then it is not working i spent so much time to make it work. I think i have not followed the tutorials properly :-)
I'm not aware of the proper recording software's to record video in PC, the video looks good in real time rendering but in YouTube the result was not more clear, especially the underwater fog effects are missed, unfortunately i don't have enough time to make it better.

Assets Used:

  1. BioMechanical Whale
  2. SUIMONO Water System
  3. Sci-fi Design Kit
  4. Space Suit Girl
  5. Cyber Drone
  6. Ultimate VFX
  7. Sea fish
  8. Missile
  9. AllSky
  10. Amplify Boom
  11. Mesh Editor
  12. Humpback Whale
  13. First Person Lover - Male Character and Clothes Pack
  14. First Person Lover - Female Character and Clothes Pack
  15. Free Mountain
  16. Free commercial sounds "https://freesound.org/"
  17. Universal Sound FX
  18. Mega Game Music Collection MP3
Unity Tools:
  1. Timeline
  2. Cinemachine
  3. Post Processing Stack
  4. Volumetric Fog

Finally:

I never thought of making 5 minutes animation video in my life, NEON made it happens, thanks UNITY and TEAM for providing me this wonderful opportunity to showcase our skills.
I have learned a lot throughout this challenge including the usage of latest tools and i will use this skills in my future projects.

Nataraja Perumal S
Senior System Software Enginner - Programmer
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