Composing A Scene in Unity for Cutscenes

Ever wondered how do they configure the cutscenes in the games you have played? Well, it’s really not hard to guess that they have been placing pre-recorded animations in the game scene but I really did not know how did they really manage the shots. This article will focus on how to compose a cutscene for your game.

First things first, to create a cutscene in Unity, we will need to use Timeline and Cinemachine. Despite that we are going to use cinemachine to manipulate the camera(s) for the shot, it’s better have a basic knowledge regarding these two components. For more information regarding timeline, you can simply check my previous article here.


Cinemachine is a dynamic camera system, that allow us to use virtual cameras to use in the game and to create scenes from a director’s view. It’s a really powerful and useful tool. Cinemachine is not included in Unity by default, but it is really easy to add it from the Package Manager. Both of the tools are used while creating cutscenes.

To gathering views from different angles, would it really make sense to change the position of main camera? Well, it would be really inefficient and redundant if you have such a powerful tool as Cinemachine. Virtual camera is a camera that is used by the main camera to compose the shot. With Cinemachine, we can easily create virtual cameras.

First, we need to add the Cinemachine component to our scene. You can easily addet to your Project from the Package Manager — Unity Registry — Cinemachine.

Once you import and install Cinemachine, you can add a virtual camera to your scene.

Once you have clicked to create, you will notice the new virtual camera added in your scene.

Once we add a virtual camera to the scene, you will realize that a new component added to the main camera as “CinemachineBrain”. This simply acts like a controller for the virtual cameras that we create.

Main camera inspector view

A virtual camera in the scene works just like a normal camera, but it’s actually virtual. If you click on the virtual camera that you have created, you will notice that it is just like the main camera on the Game view.

To move the virtual camera to the point of desire, we can simply focus on the scene that we want to create on the scene view and then press Ctrl + shift + F or just select GameObject — Align vith View.

Aligning the virtual camera view

Here’s basic information regarding inspector view of virtual cameras:

Virtual Camera Inspector View

Status: live denotes that we are actually observing the view of this virtual camera on the game view. If it’s on standby, we can simply switch to it by clicking “Solo”. Setting a higher priority will also result the scene to prioritize the virtual camera over others. Thus, Priority is a property that is used to decide on the priority of the cameras.

You might have focused that the virtual camera includes blue and red colors on the game view. The blue area is actually the area that we want our virtual camera to focus on.

The red zone is denoted with soft zone in the settings and we can manipulate its width and height from the inspector.

Dead zone is the uncolored zone at the center of the camera.

Now, we can move on arranging the view of our virtual camera to our cutscene demands. If you have a director plan regarding the shot, you need to make sure that your scene fits the directors need.

For instance, the director planned a close shot only including the upper body of the right person. So, we update the view of our virtual camera to a point that is close to the director’s plan. And here’s my try out to catch the director’s view:

Until this course, I really had no idea of the “The Rule of the Thirds” rule. If we are to divide the view with 3 equally sized lines vertically and horizontally, we will have the dead zone in the middle of their interaction points. The rule suggests that the focus should not be out from this rectangle.

We can easily apply the rule to our camera by setting the soft zone width and height to 0.33 value.

I have noticed that the view I have set above did not apply to the rule.

First cam view before arrangement of 1/3 rule

You can easily manage to arrange the center according to rule.

We can have many virtual cameras on our cutscene. The director planned a second camera shot during this scene.

Simply, we create a new Virtual camera using Cinemachine component. Now as we are aware of the 1/3 rule, we take the point of action at the center.

Second Camera — with 1/3 rule

And that’s it. We have successfully blocked our scene (:o new terminology :) ) and sleeping guard shot is now ready!

Unity Developer