Dev Diary: Week 3

Welcome to the week three round up of the Hangar 45 student project!
Here you will see some of the progress I have made with this task on a weekly basis and see me talk about some of the challenges and (more importantly) solutions that I deal with.

Modeled Mechs – 1

This is  a long range mech sniper model. The black background stills are from an early version. The gray ones from the finished model. At this point it’s about 60k polys… but I’ve kinda got all the primary details I want.  I plan on sculpting a lot more secondary details in and all the tertiary ones will be texture work at the very end. I guess by doing the same step over and over I get better and faster at it.

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Modeled Mechs – 2

Finished modeling on the largest of the mechs (but I might tweak some bits if I have spare time ) At about 60k polys it’s a little lower than I had planned, but I’ll look at some procedural methods to add more details as this one is ultimately close to x3 physically larger than the others.

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Modeled Mech – 3

Modeling done on one of the more generic looking mechs. At 40k polys he has turned up more low poly than I’d like so I might do another quick pass on the models once they are all done to even them out and push them a bit further (might help combat some tunnel vision from staring at the same thing for too long)

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FFT Bloom Research

With the release of Unreal 4.16… Epic released two features that would’ve really helped my project… at the begging…
One of these was volumentric light, which was something I originally wanted to use, but due to restrictions at the time, I essentially adjusted all my level design (as little as it is, to work without it)
The other feature was a new FFT Bloom system that allowed for some high quality light bloom effects. I figured that this effect might pair well with my lens flares that I worked on earlier so I decided to do some test (here you’ll see 5 out of like… 20, but they all failed and worked for the same reasons)

No Bloom – lights, reflections and atmosphere look very flat and in some ways dim.

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Old UE4 Bloom – bumped up to the max to show off the effect of brighter looking lights and some nice color bleed from the sky on the shiny shpere.
* Old timey games used to crank this up even more to hide their bad graphics… some movies did that too (cough* chough* The Hobbit last film)
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The new Default FFT Bloom – Bumped up values to make ity more apparent. Bloom behaves in a more realisic way… light makes a kernel that would normally be seen on physical camera lenses.
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The Custom FFT Bloom – Created my own series of kernel images (20) to try and come up with a more interesting results. This was a complete failure as the kernel image not only has to be a specific format (easy) but has to hold very specific data (not easy). Looking at the documentation it appears that the kernel image holds data for not only bloom shape, but also for brightness, exposure, focus, blurring and a few more things (I think). At this point this effect will take too long to pursue effectively so I will either stick to the default FFT or do some tiny bit of engine editing .
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Old Bloom with engine tweaks – the latest version of UE4 seems to have exposed some code that dictates how bloom behaves. Using this I managed to warp the shape of the old bloom and stretch it (like in them scifi films). This proved to not only be super fast on the PC (FFT is quite heavy), but with a bit of work i will integrate perfectly with some of my lens flares work.
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* For More on my new approach to bloom please see this article by Fabrice Piquet (http://www.froyok.fr/blog/2017-05-anamorphique-bloom-with-unreal-engine-4) where he goes into great detail on how to modify the engine to get this effect.
Conclusion – While the hard surface kit is now finished, I have found some small errors that need to be fixed (shouldn’t be more than a day) thanks to a new method that I use now for better model integrity and optimization.
The mechs are turning up as fast as they should roughly 2 days per model, so I might have an extra day at the end of this to go over them again as a whole.
The models are turning up slightly lower poly than I was hoping, which is good in some ways as it can give me more space for detail work later.
The FFT Bloom is not a feature I plan on using as it is apparently heavy to process and the effect can be difficult to control, while the distorted standard bloom is perfect for anamorphic flare effects which can save me the trouble of making custom flares with my previous tool for all light sources.
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