Our team consists of graduate students from the University of Utah in the Entertainment Arts and Engineering department, a video game developing school. Each of us specialize in different disciplines and split the tasks in our scene accordingly. Trevor Newell, technical artist, was responsible for 3D modeling, VFX (particle effects), and post processing. Sarah Soller, 2D artist, was responsible for concept art and texturing assets. Clay Westing, Producer, was responsible for product management (SCRUM), narrative, and music/SFX. Christopher Daugherty, Technical Artist, was responsible for white boxing (scene layout), procedural art, and VFX (shaders). Chaklong “Chris” Cheung, 3D artist, was responsible for 3D modeling and texturing assets. Robert Baer, technical artist, was responsible for rigging and animating, timeline, cinemachine, and post processing.
For our scene, we decided to approach the theme of “A New World” by making a scene in the distant future but with focus on a relic of the past. We thought that by focusing on a futuristic society’s adoption of the technology and culture of the past world that we could provide insight into what our New World values and chooses to commemorate (or forget). Additionally, we thought it would be interesting to layer time periods within our scene by having the art assets from various time periods in order to show how the society progressed over time. Our scene consists of art assets from 3 distinct time periods: modern day (2018), a near future (50 years from now), and a distant future (100 years from now). While our scene doesn’t show all cultural or technological aspects of this New World we believe that the scene we created can serve as a microcosm for the New World we have imagined.
With this narrative inspiration in mind we conceptualized a scene of a Japanese Dojo deep within the wilderness. We decided to place the scene in such a location because we thought that the Dojo in the wilderness could serve as a symbol for lost tradition. Additionally, we decided that placing the Dojo in the wilderness, as opposed to a futuristic cityscape, would allow us to show how the New World’s technological advances and cultural changes have affected the non-urban world as well.
While the Dojo itself is from the modern day (2018) in our scene it has been repurposed as an entertainment exhibit in a near future (around 50 years from now) with neon lighting fixtures and advertisement billboards as well as a robot samurai display. This repurposing of the Dojo is made to symbolize an attempt to commemorate traditions of the past with the use of modernized technology in order to appeal to a more advanced generation.
However, in the time of our scene, a distant future (around 100 years in the future), the Dojo and the entertainment exhibit has become forgotten and isolated in the wilderness. The barren state of the Dojo and exhibit shows how the New World has abandoned the traditions of the past. Additionally, the snow, lighting, and music of our piece is used to reinforce the solitude of the scene. To represent the current technological level of the New World we placed a futuristic car in front of the dojo, a sign of a possible visitor to the relic? We leave this up to the viewer to decide.
Here is our description of the creation process for the assets and vfx in our scene including 3D models, UVs, textures, shaders, particle effects, sculpting, and level design:
Snow shader: We started researching different snow shader’s that others made. Once we got a grasp on how they worked we built ours based off pf information found on a few different sites. Testing and debugging took quite a long time due to it being the first shader I have ever programmed.
Level Design: When we started developing the landscape we knew we wanted to go with a Japanese style environment so we found reference images online. Once we got a basic understanding of how it should have looked we began sculpting the environment. Once we got the white box set-up we shaped the river however, it felt empty and so we sculpted the mountains in the background.
Robot Textures: The robot textures were created in Substance Painter. The robot is mainly composed of metal materials. Emissive lights were added to achieve a more futuristic feeling.
Zen Garden Textures: The zen garden textures were created in Z-Brush and baked out using Marmoset Toolbag.
Rock Texture: The rock texture is a free texture taken from https://www.textures.com/
Hologram signs: The signs were created in Photoshop and then applied to a flat plane. A hologram shader was then applied to achieve the desired effect. The signs use Japanese kanji and English letters to emphasize the juxtaposition of the old samurai museum in a futuristic world.
Concept Art: The concept art was created in Photoshop. Initial concepts were created to decide the general theme of the project. Later concepts of a robot and dojo were created to aid in the creation of 3D assets. Concept art in google drive.
Dojo Building: The dojo used in the project were modeled and UVed in Maya 2017, and then textured in Quixel Suite 2 with PBR maps. Reference images of japanese dojos, shrines, and temples were used.
Wall: The walls used in the project were modeled and UVed in Maya 2017, and then textured in Quixel Suite 2 with PBR maps. Reference images of japanese garden walls, temple walls, and castle walls were used.
Samurai Robot: We animated and rigged our Samurai Robot inside Maya. I used a simple state machine to loop through the 2 slash animations I made.
For our production process we started off by looking at concept art from our 2D artist of some futuristic scenes she made. From here, we took this inspiration to conceptualize our New World and design our scene. To design the scene we listed all of the art assets needed to fill out the scene with tasks including white boxing (level design), 3D modeling, rigging and animating models, and texturing. After completing these tasks we put these asset along with music into the Unity project. From here, we used Timeline, Cinemachine, and Unity Post Processing to finalize the scene by adding visual effects and creating a video. Throughout our production process we used SCRUM techniques to narrow down the scope of our project and keep the most necessary assets and effects to convey the intentions and goals of our scene.
Post-Production and Post-Processing:
Timeline: We primarily used timeline dolly tracks to navigate through our scene.
Cinemachine: We used post-processing for lighting, shading, and camera effects to compliment the mood and narrative we were going for.
Here is a google drive link to view our concept art and work in progress material: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZzmfN4Oyjoi9gkwnavl7dorQEyfQIDX4