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Quentin Lengelé talked about his impressive project, where he tries to build a 3d copy of Deckard’s Apartment from Blade Runner. He shared some techniques, discussed the way he creates the assets, builds the materials and created the intimate lighting in Unity. Beautiful work. It’s still far from finish, but we like it nonetheless.
I’m a Freelance Software Engineer based in Belgium. Since 2000, I worked in several agencies on different domains and platforms like web client/server side, mobile, desktop and real-time CGI. I learnt some techniques and languages and I worked on different aspects of computer programming and authoring: Concept design, corporate applications, 3D modeling & texturing, Kinect games, mobile apps, digital signage network development and installation, web games, mobile games, digital event activities, webserver setup, projection mapping, interactive walls and floors, multi-touch apps, augmented reality apps, virtual reality experiences…
During these years, programming and learning new things really became an addiction and a good way to express myself. One thing for sure: If you come and talk to me about Particles, GPU and CG technologies, we could be more than simple friends.
My loves, after my 2 daughters and my dear wife, are Maths, Physics, Classical Antiquity, Space & Astrophysics, Archeology, Saxophone, Piano, American Old Timers, Snowboarding, Computer Games…
All started with a heightmap test on the well known wall-tilling of Frank Lloyd’s Ennis House.
Lloyd’s tile design is quite specific and offers good features to obtain a nice 3D rendering. It could have been a smaller job if I stopped there but as an unconditional fan of the movie I wanted to have a realistic preview on walls with Global Illumination. Obviously, it quickly turns into a huge 3D modeling hobby.
I choosed Unity because I work with this software for more than 6 years. As I’m almost alone on this, Unity offers me the best tools to get satisfying results in a short amount of time. Unreal features are really nice but the workflow is much more longer in my opinion. Also, Unity tools for VR implementation are easy-to-use, whatever the device, Oculus, Vive or Cardboard.
I did some architectural research on Frank Lloyd’s house in Los Angeles, watched movie scenes over and over again and found very interesting content on Propsummit. I drew plans on paper then I port all these sketches in 3DS Max, 1×1 scale. After showing this scene to a friend, we immediately had the same idea: put VR in there and it quickly became a main goal: propose a beautiful and detailed virtual tour of Deckard’s apartment, with a view on “2019” Los Angeles streets.
Keeping your models in a coherent unit system from start is the key. Working with a metric system is something I plan as soon as possible. The reasons are simple: clean imports, coherent lightmap scales and appropriated physics. Of course, when this unit rule is correctly followed, your VR experience should be OK. Size coherence is absolutely an important point in VR, but it is also true for any 3D experience, no matter the platform. Otherwise, building the city view from the balcony was not easy, especially for the side we don’t see in the movie and because of the height (97th floor).
To get closer to the movie, I really wanted to reproduce most of the furnitures. I watched BR so many times, almost frame by frame, and I found a lot of items on Propsummit and other furnitures websites. It’s a job of patience and observation with a lot of web research to spot every single object but it was a real opportunity for me to improve my modeling skills and be able to create a mythic virtual place in the meantime. I remember I was looking for a buffet for months. I had no clue but the top of this furniture appearing in the living room. Finally a member from Propsummit found the thing and I was able to reproduce it accurately. Thanks again to Andrew Pokon.
For the mod itself, I worked many years with 3DS Max but I’m familiar with Blender too. It really depends on the needs but I have a preference for Max, certainly because I’ve been using it since Windows 95.
I have to mention a friend, Cedric Delcourt. He’s helping me on several props modeling and texturing during evenings and weekends.
Dangerous Days , one of the best making-of movie, was also a huge source of information. Thanks to Charles de Lauzirika who brings a such amount of details about BR.
All the materials are generated with Substance Painter. This is the perfect software for what I was trying to achieve. Early stages of the scene was done in Unity 4 with no Physically Based Shading. When I tried Substance Painter the first time, I immediately started to rebuild all the apartment textures from scratch. It quickly generates additional work but the rendering is much better, no doubt about that. Substance Painter is definitively a must-have tool for 3D artists. Creating PBS materials is a very motivating job and the coming of Unity 5 with Enlighten technology was determinant in the boost my passion for producing realistic real-time 3D experiences.
How important was it to get so many assets in the scene? It must have been a lot of work. Why are assets so important here?
From my point of view, a good VR experience is something realistic and faithful to the subject. If the realism is high enough, your brain is completely tricked and you start to feel it “as you were there”.
To get realistic enough, this scene had to fit with all the “mess” inside Deckard’s apartment. Personally, I’m still not happy with this, it’s still “too clean”. But it was important to have as many objects as possible to offer a detailed experience. The current assets aren’t all high detailed yet, maybe 70% of them are. All the UVs are done and they are all ready to be pushed in Substance Painter. Now, I just need 48h a day to process this work because of I have other projects in the pipe.
Lighting in this scene was a real challenge. Ridley Scott used a lot of “light tricks” in his movie. Reproducing this in a real-time 3D environment was not easy but that’s exactly why I enjoyed doing it. Now with Real-time and Baked GI, we have all the needed tools to create a such atmosphere. With this project, I also learnt how to finetuning lights and post-processing filters correctly. Behind BR9732, there is a huge amount of hours of lighting setup and lightmap baking. Again, it requires a lot of patience and observation, especially when you try to recreate an iconic Hollywood lighted environment.
Overall, how long have you been working on this project? When should we expect to see the finished product in retail?
September 2014, this is when I started the heightmap research on wall tiles. I’m trying to work on this virtual experience as soon as I can but it’s a hobby job and I can only focus on it during evenings, nights and weekends. I would like to release something this year… but I also want to add a small gameplay and implement Rachel character (made by another friend, Thomas Marcotte) and have interactions with her. Without any doubt, it will be released… certainly an alpha version very soon, to be able to collect some feedback.