While artists have already been using KitBash3D’s premium 3D asset kits to build elaborate worlds for film, TV and video games for the last three years, the company’s recent release of its Kits 4.0 “Game Engine Ready” update is quite literally a game changer. After a year of work behind closed doors, the Kits 4.0 update unleashes critical time-saving improvements for developers, and simultaneously sets an industry standard for clean geometry, non-overlapping UVs, PRB textures and most notably, native file support for Unity Technologies and Unreal Engine.
To demonstrate how much the new kits are going to dramatically transform the way developers at all levels build high-quality, cinematic games, KitBash3D co-founders Banks Boutté and Maxx Burman directed an inspiring, action-packed trailer for the release. The creative team primarily used Cinema 4D and Unreal Engine and was led by the KitBash3D demo team with help from more than 20 3D, VFX and Unreal artists, including motion designers Joey Camacho and David Ariew.
Banks, talk a little bit about what Kits 4.0 is all about.
Kits 4.0 is a free update available to anyone who registers for a free KitBash3D account, as well as anyone who already owns KitBash3D kits. In addition to massively upgrading the software we already support, 4.0 kits now support Unity, Unreal, and Houdini native files. That’s going to save developers a ton of setup time, so they can get to the fun part faster.
Maxx and I started KitBash3D because the digital frontier is always changing how we communicate. We drive ourselves by the moto: ‘We can have a massive impact on how people interact with the screens in front of them.’ And we do that by putting the right tools, our tools, in the hands of the digital creators who craft the experiences consumed by millions and millions of people every day.
Tell us about the trailer you made.
We open with quotes from some of our biggest fans and fellow game artists, followed by an opening title sequence that we designed to evoke a bit of mystery around the product. Joey Camacho was the first artist we brought on. He’s great at creating highly polished studio sets, and for this trailer he shows the product beautifully in a studio setting seamlessly transitioning through a portal into full-game worlds.
We wanted to play on the classic demo scene, something like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider so, at first, you see our Ancients kit, followed by the camera lifting to reveal Heavy Metal and Cyber Streets. As David and Joey worked on that scene, we sought to highlight how our kits are not only full worlds, they’re also very modular and customizable. When the character gets up off the table and is suddenly running through worlds, it’s revealed that the worlds were built in real time and it creates a ‘holy shit’ moment for the audience.
Joey, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a 3D designer and art director from Canada. I spend most of my time experimenting through my Progress Before Perfection series, where I’ve been creating a render every day for the last six years. My work is focused on creating conceptual designs and animations for global brands. Whether it be artificial intelligence, machine learning, technical fabrics and material properties, or advanced biological characteristics, I solve challenges by creating ownable visuals that stand out.
I’m also the founding artist of AvantForm, or AF, a licensing platform made specifically for top tier digital artists, designers and animators around the world. It is based around the principles of autonomy, empowerment, and equality. Global brands get instant access to renowned work and the artists are paid the highest royalties in the industry. AF is a tight knit community built by artists and made for artists, and it came out of artists’ frustration with licensing around CGI and digital art — long contracts, slow payouts, complicated terms. Our goal is to change the perception of high-quality digital art, and let artists make money in their sleep or while they’re sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere.
In addition to the opening sequences, describe your contributions to the trailer.
As the shot list evolved, I worked with the rest of the talented team on the Cyber Streets scene and the transition from inside the diner to the Unreal Engine world. I also worked on the sequence with the robotic arm showing the features of KitBash 3D assets—Clean Geometry, Non-Overlapping UVs, PBR Textures.
I really enjoy focusing on lighting and materials, and the team at KitBash3D wanted something a bit more ownable than your usual wireframe render or UV checkerboard, so I layered up the materials and found a way to work in the orange brand colors to make it feel more unique.
Say more about how you created the robotic arm sequence.
My main tools for everything I did were C4D and Redshift. I animated the sequence as one shot but rendered each transition out with overlapping handles. That way, if something needed to be changed in a certain section, I would only have to re-render that part. Cinema 4D’s Take System was very useful in that sequence, as I had multiple lighting and material setups assembled. The separate sequences were composited together with the overlapping motion blur.
David, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a 3D motion designer located in Denver, Colo., and I do a lot of music video and concert visuals work for artists like Deadmau5, Katy Perry, Zedd, Excision and Keith Urban. I'm also an educator, and I've created a ton of free tutorials on Octane Render for eyedesyn.com. Right now, I'm working on a big course for School of Motion that'll release early next year on digital cinematography.
Tell us about the scene you made where the buildings slam into place.
I definitely enjoyed experimenting in C4D with how the buildings would animate in and fall. At first the idea was they would just plop down, but I thought it would be more fun if they flew in from different directions off camera while twisting, and then slammed down. Also, having had so many jobs doing concert visuals last year, I've gotten really particular about timing, and I made sure the buildings slammed down on the exact beats of the song.
Describe how the process worked.
The process was pretty efficient. For the first few weekends, I just worked on previz until everyone was happy. For the building drop shot, I needed to make sure that the tail of it would transition nicely with the next shot of the environment fully fleshed out in Unreal. So I just eyeballed Andre Mercier’s camera move and its height coming around the building, and made sure my camera swept down to approximately the same place by the end of the move. I knew the motion blur of the foreground building would seam the transition.
We went through a few rounds of lighting iterations, starting with much stronger yellow and orange lighting to try and hit that post-apocalyptic vibe. But then we toned the colors down to match the studio look. Initially, I also created a destructed floor beneath the buildings, but we needed to define the differences between the studio setup and the final world, and that destructed floor was too similar to the Unreal environment. So we went with a more simple floor with a roughness map to break up the reflections.
Tell us about making the castle sequence.
We had several iterations on the castle itself. Banks and Maxx wanted something close in shape to the Disney castle. For the turret swap shot we started with turrets changing on every beat, but that ended up being way too jarring and fast, so we switched it to every other beat. We also created a transition from the previous shot where the missile hits the camera and causes it to swing down. All I had to do on my shot was create a continuation of that move where the camera tilts down quickly to reveal the castle.
Rather than swapping all the turrets and positions, as I was doing at first, which created too big of a jump cut, Maxx had the great idea to just have the upper turrets swap, then the middle ring, and then the forms at the base. That kept most of the castle consistent from cut to cut and looked much less jarring. For the lighting, I created a rig that backlit the castle, but I also filled in the shadows and changed the temperature of some of the lights for subtle color contrast. Then, I attached the rig to the camera because, otherwise, the lighting wouldn't have worked for the whole shot because we were orbiting around the scene pretty quickly.
Did you use Unreal at all in your work?
I didn't actually touch Unreal, and I know very little about it, though I'm definitely planning to get into it soon after seeing that Unreal 5 demo! Unreal is becoming a tool that artists are looking at very seriously, and there's been a ton of work lately coming out of that program that looks cinematic and beautiful. Real-time rendering in general is the future and will allow artists to work much faster, both in the look development process and in outputting final renders.
And C4D is also becoming more compatible with Unreal, so many artists are exporting scenes and animations from C4D to Unreal and doing their final renders there, or even using those assets from C4D to create games. The exciting news from the Unreal 5 demo is the near unlimited geometry that it can handle, so there won't be a need any more for micromanaging polygons and retopology. It also opens the door to companies like KitBash 3D, who create amazing high-quality assets that might have previously been too intense for a game environment. Now artists can build their own worlds with even more detail.
Banks, how do you see KitBash 3D meeting artists needs into the future?
KitBash3D is all about giving artists the tools they need to build worlds for games, TV and film more quickly and affordably. These kits can be used by anyone, and our premium assets are high enough quality to be used by major studios and game developers. We want to enable and inspire artists around the globe. The demand from consumers is going to grow so much in the next five to ten years. We’re going to need all of the people who are working in 3D now, plus a whole lot more to build the 3D internet. And since John Favreau’s work on The Mandalorian, virtual sets are also a very real topic at TV and film. That was the first big, global brand piece for virtual production and everybody in technology has their eyes on that.