Heidelberg Discovery Station 0 BC

I had the enormous pleasure of working with Meso Design, and leading the environment art work on Kurpfalzisches Museums' brand new interactive exhibit running in Unreal, The "Discovery Station": https://meso.design/en/news/high-definition-portal-to-ancient-times
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I was responsible for the 100 km² of Natural Scenery, which was created with the aid of satellite data, historical references, and a photo-grammetry trip to the region. Weeks were spent researching and collecting reference, every species of plant was carefully selected and spawned according to realistic Biomes, which were created with guidance from the researchers at the Museum.
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All of the trees were created using my own tools inside Houdini, which combines scanned data and parameterized L-Systems, automatically setting up LODS, Wind and Octahedral Imposters. I opted to build my own tool, because given the size of the landscape and density of the forests, I knew that having complete control over the end result was crucial for performance. In the end, the scene contains over 3 Million trees. There are 40 different varieties comprising 4 species.
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The terrain itself was produced using a 30M precision base-map sourced from satellite data, which was detailed first inside of World Creator and Quixel Mixer. The Rivers were created inside of Houdini, using a simple image as a guide, but with layers of procedural refinement, such as conforming to slopes and automated meandering.
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For our small team to work concurrently, we found ourselves in need of a non-destructive and multi-user approach to landscape editing, so along with a custom landscape material, which used both the new Layers system and Virtual Textures, I developed a render target based blueprint system to enable multiple users to work on the same landscape tile at once. This system handles terrain deformation, material layers, and grass spawning.
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Megascans and Epic Games Marketplace resources were used to handle the groundplants, shrubs and volumetric clouds.
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The natural environment is packed with detail, and runs consistently above 60fps at 3440x1440 on an RTX2080TI. The exhibit can be played today by visitors to the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg.
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Thank you to the team at Meso for bringing me on board, and to the Kurpfälzisches Museum for presenting the opportunity to build this wonderful exhibit. Enormous credit must go to https://www.artstation.com/belacsampai, for crafting the many beautiful artifacts, structures, and other man-made elements that bring the historical world to life.

This "Celtic Man" along with the other manmade props, were produced by Béla. I was responsible for the natural scenery; producing the terrain and trees. I also was responsible for the lighting and overall look-development.

This "Celtic Man" along with the other manmade props, were produced by Béla. I was responsible for the natural scenery; producing the terrain and trees. I also was responsible for the lighting and overall look-development.

I produced all of the trees using tools that i developed inside of Houdini throughout the project. 

These trees are based on scanned data collected on-site, and they are automatically set up with efficient wind and lods, including imposters.

I produced all of the trees using tools that i developed inside of Houdini throughout the project.

These trees are based on scanned data collected on-site, and they are automatically set up with efficient wind and lods, including imposters.

The lighting setup is well optimized. Only 1 shadow cascade is used, along with distance field raytraced shadows and DFAO. I am also using Volumetric Fog and SSAO. SSGI fell within our performance budget, but we didn't use it because of a splitscreen bug.

The lighting setup is well optimized. Only 1 shadow cascade is used, along with distance field raytraced shadows and DFAO. I am also using Volumetric Fog and SSAO. SSGI fell within our performance budget, but we didn't use it because of a splitscreen bug.

The forest stretches for kilometres in every direction with near seamless transitions between imposters and geometry. This means the imposter can be streamed in at much closer distances, which results in huge performance savings vs traditional billboards.

The forest stretches for kilometres in every direction with near seamless transitions between imposters and geometry. This means the imposter can be streamed in at much closer distances, which results in huge performance savings vs traditional billboards.

The spline system for the walls and fences is an advanced tool which combines instanced meshes and spline-meshes to produce complex structures. The user can configure unlimited patterns and arrangements with simple controls from just a few meshes.

The spline system for the walls and fences is an advanced tool which combines instanced meshes and spline-meshes to produce complex structures. The user can configure unlimited patterns and arrangements with simple controls from just a few meshes.

The landscape grass reads from the landscape virtual texture to improve terrain blending. It reads both the base color and normal pass. The normal helps a lot in making the transition between the meshes and the terrain seamless.

The landscape grass reads from the landscape virtual texture to improve terrain blending. It reads both the base color and normal pass. The normal helps a lot in making the transition between the meshes and the terrain seamless.

Due to the highly efficient lods for the trees. It's possible to renders entire forests at once.

Due to the highly efficient lods for the trees. It's possible to renders entire forests at once.

An Aerial View of the Heiligenberg. The roads and walls were placed using my own custom made blueprints. In addition to snapping meshes to the terrain, these tools deform the landscape and control the distribution of materials and foliage.

An Aerial View of the Heiligenberg. The roads and walls were placed using my own custom made blueprints. In addition to snapping meshes to the terrain, these tools deform the landscape and control the distribution of materials and foliage.

The great floodplains of the Rhine stretching into the distance

The great floodplains of the Rhine stretching into the distance

I wanted a complete speedtree replacement, so it was important that my tool for making trees could accommodate less regular shapes.

I wanted a complete speedtree replacement, so it was important that my tool for making trees could accommodate less regular shapes.

In total, I created 46 varieties of trees, spanning 4 species. Willow, Oak, Beech, Alder.

In total, I created 46 varieties of trees, spanning 4 species. Willow, Oak, Beech, Alder.

I attempted to give the impression of some light scattering through the use of an ambient cubemap, with a top hemisphere that was entirely black.

I attempted to give the impression of some light scattering through the use of an ambient cubemap, with a top hemisphere that was entirely black.

The Heiligenberg wall is built using the spline system mentioned previously. It is assembled out of a few discrete meshes.

The Heiligenberg wall is built using the spline system mentioned previously. It is assembled out of a few discrete meshes.

These meshes are assigned a letter (a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h). The user can input a pattern (ababc), and the meshes will be arranged accordingly.

These meshes are assigned a letter (a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h). The user can input a pattern (ababc), and the meshes will be arranged accordingly.

Looking over a Celtic Fortress - "The Heiligenberg",  towards the Upper Rhine Valley

Looking over a Celtic Fortress - "The Heiligenberg", towards the Upper Rhine Valley