[Virtual Production] Building A Level From Scratch

Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to create a level based on the idea my group came up with during our brainstorm:

A cat gets into a fight with its human and steals its car to run away. It drives down a long and curvy road but drives off a cliff. Luckily, it jumps out and glides away on a parachute.

In Unreal, I created a new level using the Vehicle Template rather than the Third Person Template, based on the main action of my scene description.

I had in my mind’s eye the picture of Highway 1 in California in the brainstorm as a setting and wanted to create a playable world that could take us through the inciting incident (the fight) through to the leap from the falling car.

In order to create the level above, I spent waaaaaaay too much time fooling around with the Sculpt tool to try and create a realistic mountainous, coastal landscape. I ended up getting a way more surreal approximation of what an insane first-grader might imagine a Southern California coastal landscape to be.

I also created the mansion the cat was running away from. I used the basic shapes from the Starter Content provided in Unreal to create the facsimile of the building, driveway, and decorative fountain/flowerbed; and I explored several free content libraries for assets to use to enhance the landscape around it.

From the picture above, it’s a little bit hard to tell the scale: the house is truly meant to be a massive mansion with two stories and a roundabout driveway, with room for multiple luxury cars.

Stick figure and red Porsche for scale.

I used the Paint Tool within Landscape Mode to try and paint some Ground Grass and Gravel Road textures over the sculpted landscape but never figured out how to adjust the tiling so that it didn’t look so… well, tiled.

I also spent A LOT of time trying to fit some assets from Quixel Bridge into the scene, but apparently I didn’t save properly and three hours worth of work was lost forever. I had given the house a stucco facade and red ceramic roof tiles by importing some architectural meshes and trying to re-scale and reshape them to fit the shapes I had already created. All I have are these screenshots of when I gave up trying to make a cliff face mesh fit to the cliff I had created through sculpting and painting:

It also took me several tries to get the road drivable through a mix of the Sculpt, Flatten, and Ramp tools. I also had completely forgotten how to drive in a video game: