What were the main features and parts of Unity 5 that you wanted to showcase from with this amazing project? What are the technical highlights of the ‘Adam’ film?
We wanted to put to test the upcoming SSRR and temporal anti-aliasing effects, which are already available as packages on the Asset Store. In “The Blacksmith” demo, we had deliberately avoided having very reflective surfaces. But this time, the existence of these effects called for pushing them to their limits, so already at the early stages of ideation, I was thinking about a story which was bound to include lots of shiny metal.
We were already well familiar with the physically based shading in Unity 5, but while in “The Blacksmith” we explored more natural materials (wood, leather, cloth, stone), in “Adam” it was time to expand the palette with more variety, so we included artificial, industrial ones (metal, rubber, plastic, concrete).
When it comes to lighting and rendering, Unity is constantly improving its features, and we use everything that comes our way, sometimes prototyping custom solutions on top of the engine (we don’t change source code). In “Adam”, Robert implemented a research paper for real time area lights, which he got from the Unity Labs team; as well as a solution for tube lights and volumetric fog. These were powerful tools in my hands as a lighting artist. Something we always highlight when it comes to the Unity engine is its flexibility to be expanded and customized in ways that liberate and empower the artists on a production team.
Finally, with “Adam” being a cinematic demo, we used in-progress versions of Unity’s upcoming sequencing toolset, which gave us the opportunity to provide feedback and shape the tool in a very close collaboration to the engineering team which is currently developing it.
Could you talk a little about the way the whole production is organized on such an huge project?
Our production process is a hybrid between what is typically done in game development and what is done in filmmaking. These are two very different worlds, but we take the best from both of them.
For instance, just like in film, we start with a script, storyboard, look development, and pay a lot of attention to direction. When I direct the piece, I want to have all the liberties a film director does, e.g. setting up lighting per shot, shot dressing, individual control of each camera. I like to work with film and theatre actors for their creativity in interpreting and co-creating with me the characters’ personalities and behavior. I also work with a DoP and colorist, as well as a sound designer, with primarily or exclusively film experience.