I just migrated Project Neon’s Unity project to Unity 5.5 (from 5.3), and used the new Post Processing by Unity.

The big improvements here are that we can start testing a lot more things with VR (stereoscopic rendering, etc.) The visual difference is pretty stunning. Also was able to get rid of about 10 3rd party solutions we were using for Screen Space effects, and Tonemapping, etc. Smaller project size, and better visuals. Well worth the migration time.

Here’s a sample from some of the renders.

I’ve spent a lot of time getting a lot of trees into the latest Unity project trying to portray Lake Tahoe area and a proposed bike path along the North East portion of the lake. For this project we worked out a number of different workflows. One of them was baking the biking and jogging pedestrians physics into animation paths. This allowed us to setup pedestrians, give them a destination, and then capture them running or biking along the path, and still achieve realtime by pre-calculating all of the physics involved with them running. We additionally worked out how to get the trees and environment to look more realistic than previous projects. Gaia and Tenkoku plugins were a huge help, as well as Aquas plugins for Unity for the water and environment. We ended up going largely with Speed Tree assets, but had to work out a workflow for placing trees adjacent to the path very accurately to reflect the actual trees that would remain within the bike path corridor. Tricky project, with a lot of fun constratins, and I think the renders came out pretty nice.

Finally have a render from Project Neon that can be shared. We’ve made a lot of progress, and have most of the buildings, and vehicles in place for showing off what will finally be built. Took a lot of time building the platform to get these videos as output, but I think these videos look really good for conveying what will be built in Downtown Las Vegas.

Vision Summit 2016 was the first conference I’m aware of that focused on VR/AR. I thought the list of sponsors, board panelists, and keynote guests was amazing. I agree with a lot of the ideas suggested in the keynote that this industry will have an extremely vast reach, and that what people are doing now with virtual and augmented realities are just beginning to scratch the surface.

One of my primary realizations is that with VR and AR, the sense of presence and immersion come free. The hardware accomplishes that. The content creators and content providers only have one task, and that is to ensure that they don’t go out of their way to remind the user that they aren’t in another realm. And from there, I was inspired to work on providing experiences that people can have which go beyond just showcasing the hardware. Many of the experiences I’ve tried in VR and AR were basically – look at what this could be. But I saw a few teams working on the future. And that is something I want to be a part of.

There are a lot of excited developers out there, and the opportunity to tell a story with this new hardware is going to be very fulfilling.

Another great Unity Asset Store Package is: VR Panorama 360 Pro. It is really designed to work in Editor, and will export a video from the camera, given an animation, and then stop playing once it reaches the end of the animation… But I liked the tech. So I re-wrote it so that it will work in runtime, and can be activated by a UI element. So basically a user could initiate recording. The plugin itself simply records a bunch of frames, and saves them into a folder, and then calls an FFMPEG library to composite them all.

Here’s two sample renderings I put together real quick to demonstrate the plugin and capabilities.

Southbound I-15: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9B7fnz7Bjg
Northbound I-15: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkL9W1b70Cs

It is really fun to work on this Civil Infrastructure project downtown Las Vegas as part of the CivilFX team.  I spent a lot of time trying to go through the AutoDesk workflow of taking aerials and topography, draping them together, and getting them into 3DS Max.  Turns out most of their documentation pages talk about using their Infrastructure Suite software to link the data in 3DS Max, but doing that requires a monthly subscription.  So I got a trial of their software, and got frustrated at the difficulty of exporting the data to an FBX, to be able to take it anywhere I want.

So after messing around a bit with their software, I decided just to break the aerial images into squares, re-map the UV coordinates in MAX, and drape the images myself.   Took a bit of triangle manipulation to make sure all the seams lined up but in the end I got a nice aerial surface in an FBX that I could import into anything.   And by Anything, of course I mean Unity.

So – first off – shout out to Real World Terrain.  Totally awesome Unity Plugin that saved my life.  Has a great list of features, but what I needed, was a rough representation of the Las Vegas Valley.   So Their tools allow selecting which aerial mapping server, and specifying the quality level.  So I broke Las Vegas into a 32×32 grid covering roughly 300 square miles, with 128×128 pixel aerials.  I also imported the same grid, with 2048 aerials, and a ton of triangle accuracy.  And of course something in the middle.  I then composited the three sources of data which were all in the same alignment, and ended up with 9 panels of aerials that were very accurate near the center of the project, and decreasing quality and accuracy out for hundreds of miles.  Gives a really nice accurate skyline appearance, similar to what you might see in Google Earth.   But this is Unity.  So let the games begin.

Next up is to get the Aerial topography from the local company, and integrate the more accurate project aerials into the model as well.

I started working on a number of Visualization projects, leveraging my Civil Infrastructure background, and my knowledge of game development and 3D models.  I’m not terribly good at 3D modeling, but if I’m using Autocad to generate the triangles, I can hold my own.   Exciting to be leveraging both of my skill sets to provide a living.