We’d like to share with you a project that was built during the R&D period of the Physically Based Shader and Reflection probes.
This benchmark project is one among several which helped us identify what improvements of functionality were necessary from an artist’s production perspective.
We compared offline to realtime rendering methods and output with the aim to achieve both an increase of visual quality, and a better streamlined, smoother production workflow for artists, which will open playful possibilities for graphics to be extended beyond realism to stylism.
The demo uses the Standard PBR shader and displays a range of shiny and rough metallic, plastic and ceramic materials, which naturally use the new native cubemap reflections (or HDR reflection probes). The material output in the movie is at a prototype stage and the shader is still evolving.
The textures consistently changed throughout the process as the shader evolved. In total, it is composed of 30 texture sets or so, both manually authored and procedurally generated textures. At this point, scanned textures were not used whatsoever. Typically, a texture set consists of albedo, specular, gloss, occlusion and a normal map and the sizes range between 256px to 4k. Background surfaces demanded less surface detail and amount of textures. In some cases, we casually created materials by pushing sliders to adjust color and float values until it matched the references. The secondary (detail-map) slots give a layer of dust, cracks, and crevices on the surfaces, which can be spotted on the close-up camera shots.
The cave is a large scaled environment and the 100 meter tall machine itself was used intentionally to challenge performance and to serve as a lighting benchmark. This asked for a variety of convoluted HDR reflection probes/cubemaps to be placed along its body that could adapt during the changes of light that gradually diminishes towards the bottom of the cave and when the heated core lights up. Certain elements use real-time reflections while many are kept to static reflections. The application of the HDR reflection probes remains true to Unity’s ideology of keeping workflows simplified and are nearly effortless to apply and use.
The background scene uses directional lightmaps, while the machine is composed of partly skinned- and dynamic meshes that are hooked up to light probes and use Image-Based Lighting and a variety of light sources.
We are most excited to share this short film with you and are impatient to see what our talented community can produce with the new set of tools which is coming. We are looking forward to seeing artists amaze us with their limitless creativity.