•• Update – this reward is available now as part of the Forester VJ pack ••

This month’s VJ clip reward on Patreon is Subway. Check it out:

Available On Patreon

Subway is a set of 2 VJ clips, in 1080p & 2160p DXV. It includes a subway that’s lit up by colorful beams and a subway that’s taken over by nature. It’s available now and until the 30th of September to fans who support us on Patreon.

Fans also get a Resolume Arena project with variations in colors and mirror effects to the original clips. Everything is arranged into columns and Masks for easy mixing.

The Creation Process

I saw this Subway model being used on several occasions and was always impressed by its realistic quality. It’s part of Epic’s permanently-free collection available on Unreal Engine’s marketplace: City Subway Train Modular. I wanted, though, to take this realistic scene and inject some surrealism into it. I had an idea where there’s sand piles on the floor, spinning beach umbrellas and stray beach balls bouncing from place to place. It didn’t happen.

Party Beams

Another idea was making the subway train more party-like, by placing some glowing beams along it. As I mentioned before, Unreal Engine 5 with its Lumen Global Illumination system, enables emissive materials that shed light onto the scene around them in realtime. I was wondering if I could just throw a couple of emissive beams in the scene and they’ll just simply lit up the scene.

That’s what I did and it worked pretty well. For the most part, anyways. in order to work properly, the emissive objects have to be large enough for the Lumen system to take them into account – but my beams were large enough – made of cylinder shapes, bty. There are also chances of getting some flickering in the scene when it’s lit by emissive meshes, even when Lumen’s quality settings are pumped up.

Another issue I had derives from the subway’s car being filled with reflective surfaces (the poles, the ceiling), so I had to use the Ray-Tracing Reflections feature in order to get precise reflections and also up the sample count to avoid noise and grain in the reflections (adding render time to the final render).

Once I had the beams in place, I added the Camera (Cine Camera Actor), opened a new Sequence and animated the Camera’s position along the X axis in a Dolly-in shot style. I experimented with different focal lengths and chose the wide 24mm lens over the normal 35mm / 50mm as it allows more of the sides of the car to be seen.

Nature's Take-over

When I was happy with the emissive-beams scene I went on to create a scene where Nature takes over the subway cars. I love Nature – and nature that’s taking back the man-made subway is a charming scene (although perhaps apocalyptical?) in my eyes.

At first I used plant models from the Quixel Megascans collection but some of them were low-poly and didn’t look right when nearing the camera on its dolly-in path. I ended up using a Tropical Jungle Pack from Unreal’s Marketplace, as it had a great variation of plants & vines that added that jungle feeling I was looking for. I didn’t use soil in case you’re wondering. I used magic to connect the plants to the floor.

I added each plant and vine by hand, duplicating, scaling and rotating them to create variation. I didn’t use the foliage tool because it could have added too many plants – and I wanted to keep the scene with minimum meshes – as I had to duplicate the car several times later in order for the clip to loop. I was switching between the default camera and my dolly-in camera and at one point I realized that some of the plants I placed weren’t seen from the dolly-in camera POV. I then started placing plants only where they were needed – what speeded up the “planting” phase.

Make It Loop

When I had both my Emissive Beams & Nature Take-over scenes ready I went on to create the looping sequences. In each scene (level) I selected the car parts plus the beams / plants, then used Unreal’s menu: Convert Selection to Blueprint Class, then Harvest Components to collect these meshes into a Blueprint. I then created several copies of that blueprint and placed them in the distance – making the Subway’s single car into a Subway train. I rendered a 16 sec clip plus 4 more seconds at the start – that will create a fade-in loop back to the beginning.

What's next?

Pondering if to continue with the Subway train and come up with more surreal scenes or perhaps to go for something totally different. Let me know if you have any ideas / advice for next month’s reward in an email to [email protected] or in a DM on Patreon / Facebook or Instagram.

Amaze them! 🤘