Inside Gaming - Fox3D Part 3

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In Inside Gaming, we invite Sketchfab game developers to talk about their work. We asked 5 members of the team from Fox3D Studios to talk about their upcoming project, “Subnautica.” Today’s insights are from Andrius Balciunas, Cinematic Producer at Fox3D Studios. Read previous posts: Part 1 and Part 2

Hello, I’m Andrius Balciunas. I’ve been in CG industry professionally for 8 years now. I started to work on Subnautica as cinematic producer on the Steam Early Access trailer. I was responsible for the whole trailer production, starting with technical requirements, complexity, sources and budget evaluation and finishing with rendered final output.

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Cinematic Production

The most challenging thing was that we had very limited explanation on what this video should look like. We got only a storyboard of around 20 rough sketches illustrating what should happen in this video, and we also got access to use original models and assets from game itself. Half of them were still in production at the time we started. So we had to plan very carefully and think it all through to stay effective and organized. We started with the mockup video that became the basis of our project for all artists who contributed in the process. It helped illustrate the framing, length of scenes and general layout of everything.

Shoker final
by Fox3D
on Sketchfab

The second stage was to take already rigged models from game and to start animating them. I can safely say that this part turned out to be the hardest part of the whole project. We had 4 animators in total working on animating all of the scenes and we had to do a lot of versions of animations until our main art director was finally happy with them. The second most challenging part was that all animation and rigging were done in one 3d software package, most of sfx were done on another package, and all shading and rendering of everything except sfx were done on yet another 3d package. So the challenge was to successfully integrate the results from all those different packages to one seamless output.

The third most challenging part of this project was of course rendering the final output. We had to do a lot of testing and all the scenes were rendered many times at small resolution before going for the final. So this really took a lot of time and resources. The whole teaser except for the first two scenes where we see main character inside an escape pod were lit up without actually using any GI. This was tricky to setup, but this really helped to avoid flickering problems which are common with biased GI calculations, compositing setup and of course render times. The very first two scenes though, in the escape pod, were rendered on GPU with unbiased lighting and shading. The awesome part is that the whole lighting of the interior of the escape pod comes from illuminated textures of the interior model itself. And it was all physically accurate as the renders were unbiased. So not a single additional light was used to light up the interior of escape pod.

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This quality render took 3-4 hours to complete, but Sketchfab does this in real time!

All rendered sequences had quite a lot of post production to push the overall look even higher, and in the end it all turned out even better than we initially planned it to look. I remember the most pleasing part for me was to see the very final output put all together with the whole sound design. Sound design was not done on our end, so hearing the video for the first time and watching it final all through was a very rewarding moment to me.

See the trailer here

– Andrius Balciunas

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Sketchfab Team


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