Friday, January 31, 2014

Matrix Code UDK Material

I want to have some cool extras in my Oculus demo.

This Matrix scene is one of them.

This is my weekend project and I have been putting a bit of thought into it. I have watched this 5 second clip dozens of times trying to figure out what makes it tick.

The closest UDK material I've seen on the web is this one:

He did a really nice job for only 3 hours of work. I think it is a good starting point. Creds go out to him for taking the time to explain how it works. It looks good when used as a material but it doesn't look the same as the movie. There are a variety of reasons for this.

I downloaded the screensaver he recommended. It differs from this scene. As characters "fall" in this scene, random characters change values too. To the screensaver's credit, I think it matches the monitors in the movie. This last scene just got a bit more polish because it was done by a special effect company.

To really replicate the look of the movie, the following need to be taken into consideration:
1. The room has a variety of details where the matrix code flows in different ways. It flows up AND down along the wall. It flows in narrow strips along the floor. It flows along the contours of objects such as dangling wires.
2. The matrix code is pixelated as if on an analog monitor. If you look at the left and right edges you will see this.
3. The scene is lit. There is varying brightness of the matrix code based on where light would fall across it.
4. Matrix code does not pan up and down. Each character position stays in place and the code value moves into adjacent vertical positions.
5. The matrix code is a lot more dense than in his material.

I think the primary difficulty is going to be the fact that the code doesn't actually pan. If I want to make this look right, a panner node within the material is likely not the solution. This means I will probably have to swap between a series of images. I may be able to use a series of flip books to accomplish this. That is my first thought.

Before doing that I would to duplicate his material. Once I have that in place then I will create a new material that uses a non-panning solution. I will post updates here as I progress.

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