The Fountain Scene: Water Fountain Test

Since the water fountain is the focal point of the scene, and the key photo-realistic element in the sequence, we really wanted to bring it to life — and to bring in magic!

One way we decided to do this was to bring motion into the scene, and life.

Here you’ve got a scene that is built in 3D space, out of entirely 2D flat assets, but when you add flowing water and a rippling pool, there’s this amazing sense of wonder create — it’s so real and yet so fantastic, which only emphasized the theme of real and virtual, and how blurred those things are.

In addition to making the fountain come to life by adding flowing water, we wanted to create a visual effect that would speak to the hybrid reality and the themes we’re exploring.


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We’d been playing with the idea of how to bring elements from the real world into the virtual world, and vice versa, and in this early test were looking at how we could flicker between an illustrated fountain that matches the rendering of the rest of the town square, and a photographic version that hints at how real the virtual experience can be.

We tried different approaches, including pixelation, but decided on the “fragmenting” effect, as if to be totally immersed in the world, but a “glitch” reveals another layer, another reality.

The process of our scenes coming to life is roughly like this: We know what needs to be communicated, from a narrative perspective. The team gets together and we brainstorm how the scene should look and what should be included, then we sketch it out.

From a flat sketch, we start to think through how to add motion, and in some cases, virtual cameras in the animation. From there, the flat sketch gets broken into pieces that all get sketched out individually, so that we can construct the scene out of flat 2D assets, but in 3D space.

These are some of the assets, and like puzzle pieces, they all fit together to build out the creative vision.

Some of the assets are photo realistic, and some are illustrated, but they’re integrated so that the final product isn’t jarring, but rather, a bit of a magic trick for your eyes and imagination.