As a machinimatographer, the single most important element I look for in my venue platform of filming is: user-content creation AND control system. I want the ability to take a seed from an idea and let it blossom into anything I want, with few restrictions. I want to be able to have creative juices spilling as I work for the client and not have to worry about “whether it can be done.”
In developed Virtual World programs, that are a number of key solutions that make me seal the package deal and establish my place of work there: Ability to control the light, ability to build anything within reason, ability to move my camera effortlessly, ability to control character design and motion, and of course good graphics
Second Life is a given. That is usually the best option. However– I’m starting to really like my place in Unity 3D, an integrated authoring tool for creating 3D video games or other interactive content. The wonderful thing about Unity is there are a ton of professionals making it grow and adding features– many of these were already professional game designers.
Here are some features making Unity into a shining star, not only for avid game fans but for machinimatographers too:
1) Beast Lightmapping
Transforms dull flat scenes into beautifully lit environments. You can add atmosphere, shadow, etc. I’m sold! The amazing thing is you can literally paint the shadows on the scenes in Photoshop. Check out a demo:
2) Image effects
YES- you can now control the depth of field! You can perform actions like layer based bloom, sun shafts, etc. That means you can achieve effects like shallow depth of field (background out of focus), light flares entering your camera, and even achieve just a flat 2D representation of your scene.
3) Locomotion System
This is a way to blend keyframed or motion-captured movement to smooth them out for the game environment. A system like this is important in capturing realism in character movement.
If you’re still not impressed, just watch this clip from Unity’s new deferred renderer to watch everything at work: