‘Infinite Gallery’ – Blocking Preliminary Lighting

Grads in Games Search for a star. Page 3: Blocking stage, composition and preliminary lighting in Unreal Engine 5.

Importing into Unreal

I have now transferred the assets into Unreal Engine 5, and am assessing the composition and quality of the models. In figure 1, the two panelled glass wall has some irregularities on the sides. Like double vision. The cause of this must be the fact that I added to sides to the wall and in the settings they are not labelled as ‘two-sided’, so the settings are incorrect for the material. In figure 1, the wall asset simply has a quick UE pre-set glass material on it, for testing purposes.

Figure 1. Two panelled glass wall irregularity.
Figure 2. Single panel glass wall.

I wanted to add two planes to the glass wall so that there would be a sense of solidity and volume to the surface. However, based on the comparison between the two images above, it seems that a single plane would be better to use. That is to say, I must take into consideration the fact that I have not yet completed the texturing or material settings, the appearance may change later. Additionally, (personal note) on a single plane, I must set the setting to double sided.

To make the importing and placement of the assets quick inside of Unreal Engine, I maintained the centre pivots on all of the assets from Maya when exporting. Then, when placing the assets in UE, I was able to quickly place each one by either dragging them together or aligning the asset’s centre pivot to a locator I placed in the centre of the grid. Since, I made the pivot point for all assets at the centre of the grid/room, not including the TY axis. I wont do this for the final assets though, this is just my method to be more quick and efficient in the blocking stage.

Preliminary Lighting

For now I am using a cube mesh as an indoor room, to cancel out the lighting. This way I can see how the environment looks with only the interior lights.

Figure 3. Rect lights for spotlights.

I am not sure if a directional light would be applicable. Since, I either decided to have the room indoors, with low lighting from the windows and exhibition space. Or, this staircase structure could be placed just next to a building exterior, seen from outside. That way the directional light would make sense.

Figure 4. Testing directional light.

Next, I made stair lights with spot light actors, though they did not produce the correct shape that I wanted.

Figure 5. Making stair light with spotlight.

On the other hand, when I tried rect light actors, then I found the barn doors were the best settings to create this elongated rectangle shape I wanted.

Figure 6. Making stair light with rect light.

Change colour to bold blue, and intensity 0.5.

Figure 7. Stair light colour test.
Figure 8. Stair light colour test.

Practice/ preliminary tests making necessary surfaces/ mesh lights.

Figure 9. Quick test making a mirrored surface.
Figure 10. Perfect mirrored surface.
Figure 11. Making mesh lights with emissive nodes.

Fixing Light Build Issues

The rect lights keep disappearing after I built the lighting:

Figure 12.
Figure 13.

In figure 12, the top light turns off when the lighting is built. This is most likely caused by overlap in the light attenuation radius. I tried changing some lights to stationary instead of static, but now only the stationary ones appear after the render, see figure 13. The issue was resolved only when I changed those static lights to movable. On second thought, after some research, I tried turning off the shadows on the lights with issues (or all of them). This only worked well and I ended up changing all of the stair light settings to stationary and without shadows. Since these lights would only be necessary to light the steps, no need for shadows.

Figure 14. Finished and working stair lights.
Figure 15. Lighting so far (not including the spotlights).
Figure 16. Surrounding room.

I added an extra surrounding room. Since it looked too dark without it. I think that this black vs white effect is great, since it gives it more depth and contrast. Also, I know that the mirror mesh lights (on top and bottom) are over exposed, they will be toned down.

Here I tested some high angle spot light lighting effect for the twist asset. I wondered how this piece should be lit. I quite like this effect, a strong blue light from below and a subtle yellow shaded light from above to give contrast.

Figure 17. Lighting for twist asset.

Theoretically, I could add small mesh lights onto the twist asset, along the length of the shapes. See figure 18.

Figure 18. Lighting sources for twist asset.

Further adjustments included toning down the intensity for the mirror mesh lights. Originally, the setting was a multiplication of 300 (constant B setting), but after some experimentation, I will leave it at a value of 10 for now. See figures 19-20.

Figure 19. Turn down mesh light intensity.
Figure 20. Turn down mesh light intensity.

Composition Errors

In terms of essential changes in blocking dimensions that I noticed, the stair banister is a big one. See figure 21, the human reference shows me that the handrail, the spindles and the blocks are all too tall.

Figure 21. Banister too tall.

See figure 22, I tried changing the platform size, and ambient lighting. Briefly and quickly emulating a night scene style.

Figure 22. Platform and ambient lighting.

Infinate Mirror tests

The most essential part of my project is of course, the infinite mirror. While this may be part of the VFX/ post processing stage, I need to ensure that I can make this part work with some method early on, if possible.

The method I used: Mirror room in Unreal with Ray Tracing is AMAZING! – YouTube

  1. Add mirror material on surface.
  2. In command output log and type: r.RayTracing.Reflections.ReflectionCaptures
  3. Go to post processing volume and increase ray tracing bounce reflections.
Figure 23. Infinite mirror.

Figure 23, its lacking light, so you can’t see the mirror, perhaps I can’t apply night scene lighting without directional light otherwise I wont be able to see the mirror’s contents.

Figure 24. Infinite mirror – added directional light to see effect.

Interestingly enough, the reflection quality is terrible and the infinite effect has not been applied. There are strange repeated circles in the middle also. At this point, I have not yet added my post processing actor which should help produce the bounce lights, so there is hope for improvement yet.

On the other hand, the ceiling seems to be reflecting the square base as well. So, I think that I should make the base cylindrical to match the rest of the environment. Apart from that it should be fine. I will consider whether the base is necessary or not later, though I quick like it. It gives a sense of substance and orientation at least to it. However, it is not appropriate for the final image, perhaps playing with the colour and composition to match it will improve the visuals.

Figure 25. Looking up at ceiling (platform reflection). With post processing volume applied.

I chose reflection captures- a cube map. With these settings:

Figure 26. Reflection captures added.

My progress was slow and not progressing well, so I tried a planar reflections instead but he effect did not help too much. At least the reflection was clearer. See figure 27.

Figure 27. Planar reflections.

Figure 28, lumen is disabled in global illuminations and reflections, in project settings.

Figure 28. Setting changes.

Figure 29, the next image is with the sphere reflection captures hidden, the reflection disappears but the artefacts remain. Even after building the lighting and reflections, the artefacts remained. Changing resolution doesn’t change anything.

Figure 29. Setting changes.

Figure 29, I found something that improved the reflection, though did not get rid of the weird artefact. In the settings of the reflection capture details, I changed the ‘reflection source type’> specified cube map. This produced a much clearer reflection, that I have not been able to produce so far.

Figure 30. Setting changes.

Feedback showed that this would be acceptable if I can’t get the full infinity mirror to work, though I would rather make more time to make sure that the mirror worked properly. At the very least, I must get rid of the artefact. I will leave the infinity mirror for now and move onto the modelling stage.

Composition Changes

Suggestions and Findings

  • Boat in a jar idea/ concept. A world inside of a jar.
  • Maximum 2 colour lights – blue and yellow. (different strengths of yellow if needed).
  • Have one of the final shots from far away, and then go inside.
  • Perhaps have a composition on the exterior. Props to show what type of environment the main structure will be in.
  • The door knob is quite simple. Should it be a normal push down handle?
  • If the infinity mirror doesn’t work then I will try a central statue/ exhibit.
  • Collapsible chair. Make the it more understandable, since there is too much association with a radiator now.
  • Structure that is held up by the pillars.
  • Suggested material= brass, for exhibition pieces.
  • Stair banister spindles could be metal and modern and abstract.
  • Need to decide in what context the environment will be used. In this case, the surrounding environment may help with this purpose.

What would be the best option for the surrounding background area if I am only making a from with a staircase, but my walls are made of glass?

  • Leave it as a black empty space.
  • Make a simple white/black surrounding room with some sort of ambient lighting. (like the location of the staircase).
  • Just use a sky/HDRI.

The Changes I will Implement Next

  • Look for alternative methods to create an infinity mirror in Unreal. Not only do I need a back up just incase I can’t make this method work, but also the current method is resource heavy since it uses real-time reflections. Although you can vary the number of bounces, I should look for a better way as well.
  • The banisters are too high for the human scale referenceHave the mirror ring light blue.
  • Stair lights will be tinted yellow.
  • The spotlights will be light yellow.
  • Change light exposure to fit scene, including location and spread.
  • I hated the spotlight model shape that I made. Not only are they not aesthetically pleasing, but they are not easy to make lights for in Unreal. The space I place them in requires more direction, perhaps spot light directed lights with flaps and spotlight actors in Unreal instead of rect lights.
  • Test use of the outside space, creating an atmosphere and decided whether I will use it in final enviro.
  • Try to add a light animation onto.
  • The ground floor block underneath will be taken out because the infinite mirror will only be a single plane. There will be no layered glass and mirrors. I will simply try to add a surface imperfection effect onto the surface of the mirror to give it realism.

Notes on other settings: Working on reflections

  • Global illuminations: lumen.
  • Post processing volume>global illumination> method (ticked)>lumen.
  • Post processing volume>reflections> method (ticked)>lumen.
  • Generate mesh distance field (ticked).
  • Although using lumen settings can be resource heavy so I will turn them off if need be.

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