Dragonland

Welcome To Dragonland

 

The world is the domain of dragons. Shrouded in mist and darkness, only at the edge of the world does one see the light. Centuries have passed since the mountain folk have stepped foot outside of their dark cities, hidden deep within the mountains. But now, a new age has arisen. One that will seek to challenge the gods of the skies for dominion once more.

 

Created inside Unreal Engine 4 and edited with Premiere Pro and After Effects. With sounds mixed in Audacity. This cinematic used marketplace assets used in previous projects and a few new ones that were taken for a spin. 

 

Assets

– Quixel Assets

– Dwarf Broddi

– SmokeBuilder

– Ultra Dynamic Sky

– Particles Wind Control System

– Lazy Godray

– Infinity Blade Effects

– Desert Dragon

– Foliage Pack v1

– Stylized Egypt

 

Music provided by https://www.free-stock-music.com

Sounds provided by https://mixkit.co/

 

Creative Process

The first step I took to make this cinematic was setting up the project and gathering references. Now there is planning, and then there is going with your own thoughts. In this case, I went with the latter. After I created the project and set up a master sequence with a cinematic camera. I started to block out my scenes with marketplace assets.

 

After this, I usually start with placing basic shapes and starter content for a quick and easy setup. If there are other assets you own or have created. You can use them for block-out if they are close to what your final model will look like. In my head, I had a rough idea of the dragon concept I wanted to portray which helped me create my initial concept. A mighty dwarf facing off against a dragon at the top of the world. You know. The usual cliche.

 

 

The skybox and its initial lights and lighting are the first components I start to mess with a bit more. This allows me to get an early look and feel of the lighting and time of date my scene will take place. It can take a while to create if you are making it from scratch. If it wasn’t for the wonderful team over at Ultra Dynamic Sky, we wouldn’t be able this scene to life so well.

 

Setting up the world consisted of placing the pyramid, landscape and the dwarf in the scene. We play around with these main assets, using the camera angles and the different types of shots set up. Once I’ve done the initial building for those. I then have the basic layout and models in positions I like. I can then start to add in the post-processing early. It feels good to try to get an early look at your scene with how the lighting and style should feel. Matching up temperatures, colours, bloom and other effects that fit with our concept.

 

 

Since I want to enhance the scene using volumetrics, fog and other VFX. This ended up one of the longer processes due to the amount of iteration on a project that can occur. But for me, it allows concurrency between roles in the development process. After these steps, I moved towards covering the world in mist using particle effects from Smoke Builder. I edited and adjusted each VFX attribute in the particle system. Playing around in my environment to get a feel of where it should rise from. I added the small amount of foliage where the dwarf is standing. And using transforms inside Sequencer, I managed to create a petal that falls off the flower and flies off in the wind.

 

You can spend a lot of time animating small details, so always remember that you only need to animate what your camera will see in most cases. If there are performance and optimization requirements for the cinematic and tool you’re working in. You may need to cull or reduce their costs by testing a variety of methods.

 

 

For adding the dragons and initial animation testing. I spent a lot of time playing around with the dragon asset and the animations that came with it. Tweaks to the base animations, keyframe adjustments, sequencer and timing additions. Some of the changes didn’t work out well. So I scoped down to a few ones I liked that ended up in the final cut.

 

After I have done what I would consider a first pass rough cut of my cinematic. I added a tiny bit more lighting, god rays and other particle effects to the scene. I also laid down some minor VFX effects and mesh additions. I tweaked the colours in the post-processing volume. Leaning toward warm reds and sunlit oranges that contrasted against the shadows of the sky and the pyramids.

 

 

After I’m happy with the scene and think it’s time to test. We use the movie render queue to get our initial renders. These renders are set to use low temporal and spatial sampling anti-aliasing for a fast turnaround. After the render test is complete. Each asset and camera shot gets edited according to any issues or changes found in the first render. Continuing the process of rendering out and adjusting until our final shots are ready for post-production.

 

During the export process, we export using the EXR format. The image sequence shots are then set up inside Premiere Pro. Allowing us to work on the rough final cut that includes audio and other assets. During the editing period, we find the sources of our dragon sounds and the music that fit within our theme. If they are not found or created earlier in production you will spend time here wearing a few hats.

 

 

Editing audio within Audacity to get something that can sound like a completely different thing as an amateur is challenging. It involves adjustments to bass and treble, reverb, echo, and fade In and out. As well as normalising and changing the speed, tempo, and pitch. Until I get something that works. Since I’m using free attributed sounds, sometimes I have trouble finding the exact kind of sounds I would need.

 

For sourcing the assets. Make sure to show your references and check the copyright and attribution on each asset. It’s always good to support the original author.

 

 

I continue to work between Premiere Pro and Audacity, making any edits where needed. During this time I sync the project up with After Effects for post-production VFX. For this stage, I added light rays, minor colour correction and lighting effects to my scene. Once we complete that process, the composition returns to Premiere Pro for exporting. After we complete that we turn to upload the video and finally let out a sigh of relief.

 

Dragonland took around a little bit more than two weeks of work to make and less than 100 hours to finish. This was my no-plan workflow and the process for creating this cinematic from my mind. It usually takes twice as long to finish, so it’s always a good idea to plan your development out first.

 

Thanks for reading my short article on creating this cinematic. I want to improve upon my creative process in the future. So that I can help others who may be reading this with the ability to create amazing projects of their own.