Interview with Darko Subotin: Using CryEngine for Films

Interview with Darko Subotin: Using CryEngine for Films

Darko Subotin is an avid supporter of CryEngine. He’s using this technology to shoot a little short called Lilly. We’ve

Darko Subotin is an avid supporter of CryEngine. He’s using this technology to shoot a little short called Lilly. We’ve talked to him about his project and the choice of engine.

About Darko Subotin

Well, my name is Darko Subotin. I am from Serbia and currently studying animations and visual effects at the Academy of arts, University in Novi Sad. I am at my final year and “Lilly” will be my diploma work. I decided to do a short psychological thriller called “Lilly” in animated form because I love mystery thrillers and psychological horrors/thrillers. Doing it in animation could be a lot of fun and I haven’t seen many animated shorts with a more serious tone. The story is about a little boy’s traumatic experience caused by his mysterious and emotionally unstable aunt Lilly and how he is trying to cope with it many years later by coming back to his old home and reliving his traumatic memories.

About CryEngine

CryEngine “Lilly” Short Film by Darko Subotin © Darko Subotin, 2015

I chose a game engine over traditional rendering because I wouldn’t have the computational resources to create this scope of animation and environments that are otherwise possible to create in engine in real-time. Also because i believe that real-time rendering will in a couple of years start replacing traditional rendering. We already have some pretty good short movies done completely in engine like Craven Marsh in CryEngine EaaS, Kite demo with Unreal Engine 4, The Blacksmith in Unity 5. The trend seems to be growing and Crytek also seems to be going in the cinematic quality direction as can be seen in their latest game Ryse – Son of Rome.

I decided to use CryEngine EaaS. With the subscription version they have brought many really important upgrades and those are also the reasons I chose CryEngine. One of the most important features for me was the GeomCache. The ability to export alembic point cache files and load them into engine, made the character import process much easier for me, as well as I am able to use rigging inside 3D Studio Max that would otherwise be much more complicated to do.

Also since CryEngine doesn’t support morph targets anymore I would have to do bone based facial expressions, but this way I can still use morph based rigs. And besides that I can also simulate cloth with animation, making the characters look more cinematic.

CryEngine “Lilly” Short Film by Darko Subotin © Darko Subotin, 2015

CryEngine can be surprisingly good with interiors if you use cube maps and ambient fill lights cleverly, also the assets need to be good and a little attention to detail helps tell stories with interiors and that goes a long way in making them look good.


The lighting. When I started I had the idea of basically making a whole set, the interior of the house and the exterior around it. But soon I realized Cryengine doesn’t like A-frame houses, it likes more box based architecture because of cube map leaking. So then my plan for creating a basically functioning level of the house and surrounding area was out of the question.

CryEngine “Lilly” Short Film by Darko Subotin © Darko Subotin, 2015

The main reason for that approach was that I didn’t want to preplan every shot for my movie, I wanted to experiment with the atmosphere and cinematography in real-time, so that I can make decisions along the way and make the whole production more organic and flexible compared to standard animation production. In the latest update, Crytek has added new feature, clip volumes which makes it possible to use non box based architecture. The clip volumes clip lighting so that it only affects what is inside or outside of the clip volume, and the volume can be a custom mesh. This is a great feature that actually makes my first idea a possibility.

CryEngine “Lilly” Short Film by Darko Subotin © Darko Subotin, 2015

Still Cryengine is notorious for its steep learning curve and lack of more detailed documentation. I had a couple of hair pulling sessions trying to work around certain artifacts or bugs I couldn’t figure out the cause of, like hair shader issues, eye shader issues, shadow issues. The importing of models and textures is pretty simple, GeomCache importing is also very easy once you get the pipeline down from your DCC, so once everything is modeled and animated, experimenting with lightning and cinematography is really fun.

Changing animation can be done really quickly. While editing I have the engine running in the background so I can pretty much have more shots, change shots as I feel a need for them while editing. I could in theory edit right inside of Cryengine with trackview, but i chose to export shots separately, seemed easier than trackview.

Sharing Assets

CryEngine “Lilly” Short Film by Darko Subotin © Darko Subotin, 2015

Well, I want to share my assets once the movie is done, because I want to give something to the community and for people who are starting out. As I see it there aren’t many regular everyday interior assets, everything is mainly oriented towards vegetation, post apocalypse stuff, or action FPS stuff.

As for the community, I haven’t relied much on community support, I am a kind of person that doesn’t ask for help too much, only when in desperation. I found out that sometimes I resolve issues faster if I just get down to it and try then waiting for a response on a forum. So mainly my interaction with the community is for feedback. I did ask and get help, but many times I couldn’t get my issues resolved, so I had to work around them. I am still learning the engine as I go along and sometimes I resolve issues accidentally, or learn something new etc. i always try to update my posts if i find an issue, so others can resolve it faster if they encounter the same thing.

Lily Release

CryEngine “Lilly” Short Film by Darko Subotin © Darko Subotin, 2015

Lilly will be done sometimes during October 2015. But still a long way until then.

Darko Subotin, Artist & Animator

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Comments 1

  • Prasa

    Appreciate your attitude, thats good to share to the community where those people are rare and especially for live action cgi & rendering Photo realistic in a single machine with basic gaming system. Its better to know what process & workflows you have handled to get better result. I always look for some inspirations from others workflows & results.Cause theres is no one as far as i know as indie film maker on no budget film making...



    ·3 years ago·

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Using CryEngine for Shooting Films