Joe Garth talked about the way he created an amazing 3d environment for the music video of the song he recorded and produced. Nice take on lighting and work with Megascans.
Doing Music Videos in Cryengine
About 3 years ago I started learning music production in Reaper DAW (which I highly recommend!) and posting my creations to Soundcloud. Sometimes I write songs that have a deep importance to me, at other times it’s just absolutely crazy nonsense. The important part for me is that I’m learning and improving, and it gives me a place let out some emotions. I was also choir boy when I was younger and I sort of miss belting out a good tune! My long term goal for this year was to combine my two fields: cg video and music production.
The original thumbnail I used for the song Little Lights was glow worm caves in New Zealand so the idea of the imagery was already there. Usually when i’m mixing I like to see how my music sounds when combined with video. The idea is that the music should elevate the video and vice versa. I used real world new zealand glowworms timelapse footage as a mood reference — it usually influences the music somehow.
Once the track was complete I started thinking about how I could put together glow worms scenes in CRYENGINE. The goal was to create a realistic mood/atmosphere but add some story elements there. I also had to fit the production into my very limited time schedule, pretty much just a few weekends and workday evenings.
In the end, the piece is a short journey of love, birth, and death which I think fits with the melancholy nature of the song.
I wanted to create an environment that would showcase the lights in an interesting way. I tried to create caverns that were big enough to be impressive, but small enough for the light to influence the rock walls.
The water on the ground is a large water volume, it supports screen space reflection which is very handy for reflecting the cave above.
I also use decals to create caustics. CRYENGINE water has its own built in caustic effect, but I wanted to have more control over the size/movement. I added a slight oscillation/rotation to the texture so it’s constantly moving. Then it was just a case of handplacing the animated decals so it looks like there are caustics bouncing around.
The cave is entirely built from Quixel Megascans rock assets. I feed those into CRYENGINE, set up the materials with PBR values. This way they work in any lighting conditions.
I use a grand total of three pieces of rock geometry for the cave walls, it’s a lot of hand placement rotating, scaling. The upside is that it’s very consistent looking and fast to create, the downside is that it can be repetitious so you have to keep an eye on that.
For the distant glow worms, I needed to find a way to have lots of small glowing light dots on the rock geometry. The obvious candidates for that were projector lights. For the texture I took a real-world photo of distributed glow worm dots, this immediately looked quite natural. The big advantage of using light projectors is that nothing needed to be done on an asset level, I just had to build the cave, then choose the parts I wanted to be covered in glowworms.
In caves with water flowing through there’s usually some sort of tide that goes in and out. This means the water level changes, so some rocks are exposed and become wet, while others above remain dry. I used a sort of wetness decal to replicate this effect above the waterline. It’s basically just a massive projection decal that changes the glossiness parameter of an object to make it more wet looking.
The first step to creating these dark cave scenes was disabling the global sunlight so everything is black. Next I created some ambient lights based off of reference imagery.
I didn’t want to spend a long time on complex keyframe animation so I kept the setup as simple as possible. The animation for the lights/camera was all done in CRYENGINE’s trackview tool. You get plenty of options for the cinematography, including some realistic post FX such as depth of field, motion blur etc. Everything you’d expect from a modern game engine is built in. The lights themselves are simply a sphere geometry with a white glow material.
I attached both a shadow casting light as well as a flare light. The flare is quite subtle but adds a bit of visual polish. The great thing with CRYENGINE is that these features are available out of the box. You don’t have to spend long to have some nice looking effects.
Quick projects like this wouldn’t be possible for me without huge amount of resources at my disposal, from orchestral samples to scanned photogrammetry. Artists have an amazing combination of cutting edge tools and high quality assets at our disposal like never before.
In the future I’m planning more CG music videos, world building and music!