This yr, we at ThePack launched our first theatrical animation movie totally rendered in a recreation engine: Journey to Yourland. The movie is produced by BFLIM, Plutoon and ThePack.
Journey to Yourland tells the story of a 10-year-old boy named Riki. One evening, Riki finds a mysterious luminescent stone which leads him on a loopy journey by means of the implausible world of Yourland. Throughout this journey he makes two new mates: a lady named Emma and a monkey named Tidling. Collectively, they have to discover the magical energy supply of Yourland, which has been stolen, and produce it again to the Presidential Tower the place it belongs.
When the groups of Plutoon, BFILM and ThePack met for the primary time, we established the next objectives for the event of the mission:
1. Cross-platform manufacturing
2. Interesting search for the viewers
3. With the ability to broaden the IP of the movie, particularly by means of VR, video games and different extensions
After a variety of brainstorming and R&D, we got here to the conclusion that the best technical & artistic answer was to make use of a recreation engine to provide the IP.
However, why would we additionally produce the movie in a recreation engine? There have been fairly a couple of challenges within the script that may be tough to realize inside the accessible finances (roughly €3,800,000), and we thought the sport engine would enable us to unravel these. One of many massive challenges was a 15-minute water sequence, a posh job to realize with conventional 3D simulations in a decent finances. We confronted two choices: both change the script, or discover a solution to make it work in a extra budget-friendly means.
We had been wanting on the prospects of the Unity recreation engine for fairly a while, and determined it may present us with the technological and inventive benefits we wanted to realize the complexity of this sequence. It positively felt like taking a leap of religion, as we didn’t actually know what we had been getting ourselves into. How would the engine behave in a full feature-length manufacturing? How may we use it inside a multi-studio animation manufacturing pipeline? How would we be capable to work with artists that had by no means used this type of software program?
Proper from the beginning, we realized that making a function movie in a recreation engine will not be a straightforward factor to do. Fortunately, at ThePack, we had been doing R&D on the usage of real-time know-how in cinema and video games since 2015. For a earlier mission we wished to reuse the 3D environments that we created for the movie in a recreation. Based mostly on this expertise and our data of 3D animation, we created a devoted “real-time” pipeline: SYNK.
SYNK combines the ability of a real-time engine whereas retaining the standard animation workflow in place. We thought that this may enable us to sort out the challenges for Journey to Yourland and, on the identical time, the movie can be the proper mission to stress-test the robustness and reliability of SYNK on a real-world manufacturing.
It turned out to be the precise determination. The primary benefit of the hybrid pipeline was that the varied groups in a number of studios may carry on utilizing their most popular software program. Maya was used for animation, Substance Painter and Designer had been used for texturing and Unity took care of the lay-out, shading, lighting and rendering.
As a result of we had been working with totally different softwares and we had been working with totally different companions in a number of nations, any adjustments that had been made within the knowledge or the metadata needed to be mechanically up to date. These adjustments additionally needed to be logged within the manufacturing tracker, Ftrack, to ensure that each division may preserve observe of updates, with a view to work on the newest authorised model of every component always.
Moreover we needed to develop instruments for structure and lighting for the artists to allow them to work inside Unity. One instance of a software that was developed in SYNK is a VR lay-out mode. This method makes it doable to completely immerse your self in an surroundings and discover all totally different doable digicam angles. We had been additionally capable of report totally different takes for every shot with actual time suggestions.
One other extraordinarily helpful function the group developed was “fully-automated-environment-transfers.” The flexibility to switch whole environments from one software program to a different ensured that every one the authorised property remained 100% the identical in each scene. This meant that we may remove a variety of approval phases. It additionally allowed for results artists, lighting artists and lay-out artists to work with constantly up to date, textured and lighted property, as a substitute of getting to work with boring, grey, unlit fashions.
Final however not least, one of many largest benefits was that we had been capable of get a remaining look very quick. That is why we determined to mix the final steps of the manufacturing collectively right into a “finalizing” stage by which we mixed lighting, results and ending.
The quick iteration prospects, together with the SYNK pipeline, enabled us to complete the ultimate picture inside Unity without having a compositing part. Mix this with the velocity of the real-time finalizing steps and the standard finish of the mission crunch time was prevented.
In simply three weeks time we rendered the ultimate model of the movie in 4k. In a traditional workflow/pipeline this may have taken substantial render capability costing much more money and time.
Making the transfer to a real-time engine and the SYNK pipeline that supported it, made all of the distinction for us on this mission. The benefits recreation engines present are too fascinating for us to return to a standard workflow. We positively really feel that actual time animation manufacturing is right here to remain and is the important thing for smaller firms to get nearer to competing with the larger productions, due to a extra environment friendly and inventive manufacturing course of.
Journey to Yourland was initially launched in Might 2022.
Tom Verbeek is a enterprise developer for SYNK and a advertising supervisor for ThePack.