Composing A Scene in Unity (for Cutscenes)

This is just a quick article on composing a scene for a Unity3D cutscene. Generally, this process entails working with some notes and/or storyboards to set up the scene correctly and position the (virtual) cameras accordingly.

We’ll typically need to take our ‘actors’ (rigged and animated models) and position them correctly within the scene. We should also try to keep this organised by grouping them appropriately, so it might be worth creating an empty GameObject, resetting its transform (i.e. zeroing out its values), naming it something like ‘Actors’ and parenting the actors to it under a ‘Cutscene’ object (with the name of the cutscene). As mentioned in the previous article, this is both a matter of organisation and convenience (as we should be able to simply set a cutscene parent object to active in order for it to start playing).

Just a screenshot of one of the cutscenes in this course project I’m working on

When it comes to getting the camera angles we need for the cutscene, I’d recommend installing the Cinemachine package and making use of ‘virtual cameras’. After creating one of these, we can select it in the hierarchy and use the hotkey CTRL + Shift + F to set the virtual camera’s position and rotation to that of the scene view camera’s. This allows us to get the sort of angle/shot we want for each virtual camera in the scene view, then simply set a virtual cam to match it (and then we only need make some minor adjustments and tweaks to get it just right).

With the animated actors and cameras in place, what’s left is to use the Timeline (and various components) to trigger transitions, animations, and audio accordingly. I won’t touch on this too much here, but will return to the subject of animating GameObjects using the Timeline later this week 😉