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Creating beautiful environments for better storytelling - in real-time

Ellen Grogan

Creating environments in Unity allows you and your team to make faster, more accurate and better decisions to tell your stories.

Ellen Grogan, September 9, 2021

Working in real-time means you can quickly and efficiently create and customize your sets, frame shots, and set the stage for your stories.

From adding trees and their branches that set a mood throughout the background, to their creeping roots breaking through the landscape - all of these environmental creations come together in real-time.

The Unity pipeline supports tight integration with standard DCC applications. Since it works in real-time, the difference between the pre-viz, layout phases and final render becomes smaller and smaller - making the processes feel almost like being on set.

This also gives you limitless possibilities to create using your own tool of choice, and then seamlessly import art and animation assets from your existing workflows.

Import, export, and round-trip

Unity allows you to both import and export assets quickly in a wide range of both proprietary and open file formats, including FBX, Alembic, USD, or program specific formats like .max or .blend.

With DCC round tripping of 3D computer graphic softwares toolsets like Blender, you can iterate rapidly, editing your assets in your modeling or animation software, and immediately see changes to the assets in the scene.

Rapid development in real-time

Unity’s ProBuilder, one of the most important tools for rapid development in real-time, allows for you to quickly sketch and prototype 3D assets for your environment directly in the Unity Editor. You can create proxy models inside your Unity scene, allowing you to easily “block” shots or virtually “scout” locations and environments before the final production of assets.

What's more, ProBuilder also allows you to export your blockout geometry to use as a direct reference in your preferred DCC tools when creating final models.

SideFX Houdini and the Houdini Engine Plugin

Using the SideFX and the Houdini Engine Plugin, tools - such as the one that allowed our environment artist to edit and procedurally generate meshes for roots, cables, and pipes directly within the scene - can be created - adding a touch of realism and a fairy-tale-like mood to the location and story.

With a similar approach, you can use Unity’s VFX graph - a tool that allows us to create complex particles and visual effects using a node-based visual authoring system - to create real-time particles and generate effects like leaves that mingle and float along with the wind.

Environment isn't only about the physical elements that appear in the scene. You can add a sense of depth and volume to your scenes with the help of the built-in volumetric lighting support of Unity’s High Definition Render Pipeline, bringing life and authenticity to your story.

Taking Unity creative tools even further, you can also highlight where the light is seeping or touching a surface, using Decals - a tool where you can project a texture onto a surface achieving an overlay effect, either to enhance the lighting or to decorate your scene, giving depth to the final look.

Make faster, more accurate and more creative decisions as you build dynamic and adventurous worlds for your stories – by creating environments with real-time workflows in Unity and the creative tools you already use.

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Download Unity Pro to access the same tools used out-of-the-box in the award-winning film WiNDUP. Want to learn more about using Unity for high-end animation projects in your studio? Just contact us to set up a conversation with one of our real-time animation experts.

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