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Welcome Home is a narrative focused scene. The main purpose of the scene was to visualize a short story from the game project Substratum: Into the Depths, create a sequence, and practice cinematography techniques included in my design.

I worked on this project at the start of January 2020, during my masters degree. Throughout this project I got constant feedback from industry practitioners, helping to make design decisions. I implemented this feedback iteratively, providing ever more complete builds for further development.

Design Goals
  • Create a small and gripping narrative focused on two characters.

  • Design the level in the way to apply mise en scene and other cinematography practices. 

  • Create a camera set up to best practice cinematography and cutscenes in the Unreal Engine. 

  • Practice rapid prototyping asset and material pipelines. 


Microsoft Windows


Unreal Engine 4.23




1 Month, January 2020

Tools Used 

Unreal Engine, 3ds Max, Maya, Zbrush, Substance Painter


Narrative designer, 3D artist, cinematographer



The story takes place as a lost soul is being dragged to the entrance of the afterlife, just after crossing the river Styx. In defiance of the situation, the lost soul is doing everything they can in order to not be taken any further, unaware of the skeletons creeping in from all sides of the riverbank. The angel themselves however isn’t fazed by this, seeing it as a minor complication. As the sequence goes on, the viewer is shown this interaction from various approaches, before landing on the realization that they are, in fact, the lost soul of this scene.


The cinematography for this sequence was designed in such a way to focus on four key areas. The areas being the mise en scene, mood, composition, and character interaction of the sequence. The use of these areas helped in making clear design decisions that would be compliment the sequence, as well as making the scripting of it easier as a biproduct. When editing the shots, I used long fades to match the pacing and aid the cuts, making for a smoother result. I kept to the 180 degrees filming rule when designing and creating the sequence, so the camera shots and movements felt more natural.  

Key areas:

Mise en scene –

  • The overarching visual theme of the piece, with the design, lighting, space, acting, and aspect ration in question.

Composition –

  • Making sure each shot was framed in a way that best told the narrative, as well as the elements of the mise en scene.

Character interaction –

  • The direction of the characters, their intentions, and the main power imbalance.

Mood –

  • Much in relation to the mise en scene, using the design to amplify certain emotions and the dominant mood of the scene.

    • This was done part by the use of material shaders and a particle system in the Unreal Engine. Images of the particles, material shader, and particle system can be seen below. 

Rotating Particle

Panning Clouds

Material shader, click image for more information

Particle system, click image for more information

Environment Design


Environment design focused on the development and implementation of two material creation techniques.

Trim Sheets - 

The creation of trim sheets meant for more efficient and iterative asset production, being able to be changed on the fly.

Atlas Sheets - 

These meant for the texturing of several organic props simultaneously. 

Shot Analysis

Mist Focus.png

With this shot I want to focus on the all-consuming fog behind the angel, slowing dollying backward into the POV (point of view) of the lost soul. Placing the camera shot at a high angle made for a more natural focus, complimenting the composition of the shot.

Final Frame.png
Red View .png

With this high angle shot I wanted to focus more on the interactions and power difference in the scene between the angel and lost soul. Having the camera focus on the lost soul at this angle shows how weak and powerless they are in this situation. It also presents a better view of the wider context to the situation, with the Styx skeletons encroaching on the right-hand side.

Wide Angle.png

Ending on a POV shot at a low angle helps the viewer connect to the lost soul in the scene, getting a better sense of the intense emotion and fear being felt. Following the rule of thirds with the composition, the angel takes the centre of the shot, drawing the viewer’s eyes inward, allthewhile making use of the backlighting and illuminated mist.

With this shot, the use of a wide low angle helps to bring all elements into focus, showing the narrative transitioning in reverse from right to left. It also helps to show differences in scale and colour between the angel and the lost soul. With red and black on one side, white and grey-blue on the other. In the sequence this is a dolly shot from right to left, raising height and panning towards the lost soul to further embody the helpless feeling; as well as showing off the mise en scene of the scene.


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