While we were out at Unite Berlin 2018, we had the chance to sit down and talk with Adam Myhill, Head of Cinematics at Unity, and founder of Cinemachine, a procedural camera system for Unity, which was acquired by Unity themselves a year and a half ago. Adam also works with projects aiming to push Unity to a whole new level.
We spoke to Adam the day after Neth Nom and his team premiered Sonder at Unite Berlin 2018, which was a monumental event for both them and Unity. We starting off talking with Adam about the accessibility of Unity for projects of the scale of Sonder, and how Unity is joining the forefront of making the industry accessible to those without bulging bank accounts.
“So Unity’s tenets are how problems enable success and democratise creativity. Part of the reason I got into unity is because I did a lot of cinematics, and I was tired of having no camera tools. So we built one and we put that into Unity, and that’s one example of all these different creative pillars. we’ve got lighting; we’ve got shaders; we’ve got animation; how you use the camera in the scene; and building these tools so that you don’t need to write code to use them, yet they’re still super powerful. I’m working on a project right now with an animation studio, with a similar story to Sonder. I can’t say who that is just yet, but we’re using unity out of the box, and it’s amazing.
“Just look at the cost of entry like 20 years ago, to have a cinema camera was hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now you can get a DSLR, or even a phone, we’ve shot a movie with phones before! And when I got into computers, an SGI was thirty grand, and the software was eleven thousand dollars. Now you can run it on a Macbook, and download Unity for free. Putting these creative tools in people’s hands I think where we’re at is that we’re at the next wave, the next revolution of creativity, where storytellers and film makers can create things that look amazing, and everybody with a laptop and an internet connection can download unity and start doing it.”
The whole process is very much comparable to the revolution of music recording, where 20+ years ago you needed a big studio, and thousands of dollars to create any form of music, and now you have people creating studio quality music from their bedrooms on laptops. Projects like Sonder and a testament to that, and Unity is definitely at the forefront of making it all possible.
“A few kids working can create a short film, and then turn that into a VR experience, its amazing”
It’s the simplicity, and ease of use that makes Unity the perfect platform for creators looking to get into working within the industry, and it’s something that Unity are applying resources to improving each and every day, to ensure that Unity is as ready and accessible as possible.
“The company has grown a lot in the last year and a half. We’ve added people to the team who are working specifically on these problems. Imagine being a kid, and you’re coming out of film school. A few kids working can create a short film, and then turn that into a VR experience, its amazing! These are incredible times were in right now, where there’s such fluidity of creativity, and I think Unity is a big part of enabling this stuff in so many disciplines.
“You want to make a game, great. You want to make a film, fantastic. There’s still work, you still need to animate things, you still need to model characters. It’s not all for free, but then the asset store does a good job of helping with that. For the automotive video we released, we pulled assets off the asset store, and we built these worlds in a couple of days.”
The Asset Store for Unity is an absolute treasure trove of assets and tools, all designed to help creators with their problems and inspire new ideas. What’s even better, is it’s ever-expanding. Always gaining new content designed to help creators with their vision. There’s also a huge amount of free assets on the store, so even those with no budget can have access to high quality assets for their projects.
“Just yesterday (June 19) we released all of the Book of the Dead assets onto the Asset Store, and they’re amazing. They’re made by very talented artists, using the latest techniques. We used them in our last video too, and it’s free! So if you want trees and vegetation, all of the Book of the Dead stuff it’s right there.
“Even for the people who aren’t using it for final assets. We’ve seen people using them for film who are going to model the final assets for it themselves once they’ve got an idea, but to get that idea they go to the asset store. A bridge here, some trees there. They throw it all together and then they’re like ok, that’s it lets build this and there you go.”
The Asset Store really is an incredible tool in its own right, granting creators access to assets of high quality that they can use for final renders, or even as simple place holders for creating mock-ups and ideas. All ways of streamlining the process to give creators as much as possible to focus on their visions. We also had the pleasure of talking to the team behind Book of the Dead back in February, and you can read our interview here.
“You know what used to be a scary pair of words for everyone down stream of the director? What if? Now what if is almost free.”
We spoke about how things like the Asset Store and the whole host of new tools and concepts coming to the engine are speeding up the creative process within Unity, and what that means for creators in general. It’s also interesting to note that the accessibility of the engine is seeing Unity find new avenues of use day by day.
“You know what used to be a scary pair of words for everyone down stream of the director? What if? What if used to be terrifying. because what if meant ‘oh god I’ve got to do this again.’ Now what if is almost free.
“There’s so many different verticals that Unity is working for. Writing a game is different to doing a film, and that’s different from doing an architectural rendering or medical use. We’re seeing Unity being used in all these amazing different ways, but the approachability for those first few steps is something that’s being heavily worked on, and there’s some exciting announcements coming in that space soon.
“Because it is still is software, and it’s 3D, it gets complicated pretty quickly. So how can we make it so people when they have their first experience that’s not overwhelming? We’re working on that. There are a lot of downloadable templates and example scenes available so it’s not like it’s a blank slate. You’ve got a game that’s already happening. You can twiddle the knobs and see what happens. That helps, but there’s some more exciting things coming to help people in that regard.”
The working process of Unity is ever evolving to make things easier for their creators. The huge hit of the Keynote at Unite Berlin 2018 was the overhaul of the Prefabs system, and that is sure to make things easier for teams working on their creations. We can’t wait to see what these exciting things are in the pipeline, and just how they’re going to be helping Unity’s creators bring their visions to life.
“Jump in, and you’ll be making stuff before you know it.”
We asked Adam if he thought that the accessibility of the engine and its assets was the main reason that Unity is getting more and more use for applications outside of games design, and just what other parameters he feels makes Unity a cut above the rest.
“That’s a huge part of it. The stat that we have of how much Unity is being used is a product of number of different things, one of them being accessibility, and the other one is platforms. We support 32 different hardware platforms. I worked with Electronic Arts, and we had teams devoted to platforms. This is for PlayStation. This is for Xbox. This is for PC. It’s a lot of work to make your thing work on all these different bits of hardware, and Unity gets you around that. You don’t need to worry about it, and that’s huge. There’s a lot of factors to that.”
Unity is definitely an engine that puts its users first and foremost. With the advancements in the engines accessibility it’s seeing use in more and more avenues, most notably the automotive sector; with the AutoTech Summit taking place at Unite Berlin 2018, showcasing how Unity is being used in automotive design.
We asked Adam for a closing comment for anyone wishing to get started with Unity.
“Download it, go to the Unity Learn website; check out the tutorials on YouTube, and have a passion to make something and jump in. Find the content that supports that, watch some tutorials; find some example scenes in the asset store that are close enough to jump into, and you’ll be making stuff before you know it.”
A massive thank you to Unity for having us along for Unite Berlin 2018 and a huge thank you to Adam Myhill for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. We can’t wait to see what your projects and Unity have in store for us next!