Spirited Away, ‘The Boiler Room’ – Part 1

Spirited Away, Boiler Room, VR, Rift Spirited Away, Boiler Room, VR, Rift Spirited Away, Boiler Room, VR, Rift

After creating my 3D   ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’   I’ve come back to Ghibli to work on an environment this time – in this case, the Boiler Room from spirited away.

My plan is to create it fully in Unity, as close to the film as possible, along with Coal Sprites. If all goes well I will then consider Komaji being added.

I will also be making it fully compatible with the Oculus Rift for those who want to play in VR! Keyboard/mouse and 360 gamepad will also be supported.

The original art from the film can be seen in these images:

Boiler-Roomboiler_room-021  Boiler-Room2

The challenge here is in recreating the 2D, painted scenery and backgrounds as 3D, textured, painted elements. Note that while the boiler and pipes and floor are hand painted, the character Kamaji and the pillows in the foreground -the animated and layered elements – are ‘cell shaded’ in style.

For the modelling stage however there are additional challenges. The first is that the dimensions and layout of the room are not fixed – they change, even between shots. This is not a ‘continuity’ error as such, merely the result of the artistic choices made when making the film. However when re-creating in 3D it needs to be considered how big and what form the room actually takes. On the most basic level this comes down to the number of ‘boxes’ seen on the wall. In a way these make things quite simple – we take a standard box size, measured against a shot in the film, and duplicate. However the number of boxes on the wall sides themselves changes between shots as well.

The shape of the boiler itself also alters between wide and close up shots, so re-creating it was never going to match every shot in the film, but I’ve taken it as close as I can.

The modelling is now complete and I’ve mocked up some attractive lighting to roughly match that in the film, although this will alter a great deal for the final version:

Spirited Away, Boiler Room, VR, Rift Spirited Away, Boiler Room, VR, Rift Spirited Away, Boiler Room, VR, Rift

Some of the details that are missing (handles on the cabinet) are going to be painted on as textures/normal maps.

Well, that’s it for now. Next step is to begin painting and experiment with how to replicate it all in Unity. So… the hard stuff.

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9 thoughts on “Spirited Away, ‘The Boiler Room’ – Part 1

  1. I can’t tell you how much I’m getting overly excited right now.
    Can you imagine being able to visit the fantastical world of Ghibli with the VR?
    I’d love to help you progress, although I lack technical skills. How did you pick up the skills?
    Keep up the good work!

    • Hey,

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! Really appreciate it :)

      I’m as excited as you, which is pretty much why I started it. I was seeking out a project to learn some new skills on, and one to try out VR with. I was just thinking, “what would people love to do – what would I love?” and went from there.

      In a previous post you can see my Howl’s moving castle, which came along with the same intention really.

      As far as skills go it’s self taught really. I’d always been interested in 3D so just sort of got hold of software and started making things I thought up. It just comes down to time spent on projects that interest me so I have an incentive to make them. There’s also something magical in the completion – to see the hard work pay off.

      But if you want to do this stuff then you should! Blender is free and there are tons of tutorials and content. Go for it :)

  2. looks really cool, I think I could spend an evening sitting in that room, looking forward to seeing it on the rift. If your using unity please push a mac build too.

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