Back in 2016, Unity Technology released a short film called ADAM about a cyborg who awakens and wanders out into a futuristic world to discovered armed guards, others like himself, and two mysterious robotic travellers that lead them away from the massive industrial facility. The project designed to promote the Unity game engine screened at Annecy International Animated Film Festival and won a Webby Award.
Looking at building a franchise that explores the identity of Adam and the futuristic world as well as provide an avenue to demonstrate the innovations of Unity 2017.2, the American video game development company partnered with Oats Studios — founded by moviemaker Neill Blomkamp who gained world recognition for District 9. The mantra for the film studio established by an Oscar-nominated director to make and distribute experimental short films via the Internet, featuring the acting talents of Sigourney Weaver and Dakota Fanning, was seen by Unity as a great way to push the technical boundaries of the improved game engine.
The end result of the collaboration between technical and artistic talents is a sequel called ADAM: The Mirror, which commences right after the original, with the title character walking through a nighttime environment lit by fires and entering an enclosed structure along with other cyborgs. A cloaked, masked figure known as the Mirror appears with a clairvoyant ability to uncover the past of those whom she meets, and reveals to Adam that he is a convicted violent criminal. There is a real sense of presence and weight to the cyborgs that move in a believable mechanical way. Eerie lighting prevails giving a sense of an industrial wasteland, and by adopting the point of view of the protagonist, the viewer is able to emotionally share in the journey of self-discovery.
Not one to use storyboards as he prefers to be in the moment composing shots, Neill Blomkamp was attracted to the real-time freedom that Unity 2017.2 gave him to select camera angles within a virtual space. Blomkamp was also impressed by the game engine’s ability to continue the trend of cutting down the time required to produce computer animation imagery to the point where, in the near future, it will be as instantaneous as shooting with a live-action camera. Major leaps forward for the Oats Studio team include a new facial performance capture technique that avoids morph targets or rigs as it streams 30 scanned heads per second, and importing 35,000 photos of environments and props into Unity using the delighting tool to recreate live-action backgrounds.
ADAM: The Mirror premiered during the live stream of the Unite Austin 2017 Keynote and is available on the Oats Studios YouTube channel. At the end of 2017 a third installment called ADAM: The Prophet, also directed by Neill Blomkamp, will be released and introduce one of the villains inhabiting the ADAM universe.