What is Cinemachine and Timeline for Unity 2020?

GameDev Dustin
4 min readFeb 26, 2022


About Cinemachine

“Cinemachine is a suite of modules for operating the Unity camera.

Cinemachine solves the complex mathematics and logic of tracking targets, composing, blending, and cutting between shots.

It is designed to significantly reduce the number of time-consuming manual manipulations and script revisions that take place during development.

The procedural nature of these modules makes Cinemachine bug-resistant.

When you make adjustments — for example, change an animation, vehicle speed, terrain, or other GameObjects in your Scene — Cinemachine dynamically adjusts its behavior to make the best shot.

There is no need, for example, to re-write camera scripts just because a character turns left instead of right.

Cinemachine works in real time across all genres including FPS, third person, 2D, side-scroller, top down, and RTS.

It supports as many shots in your Scene as you need. Its modular system lets you compose sophisticated behaviors.”

About Timeline

“Use Unity’s Timeline to create cinematic content, game-play sequences, audio sequences, and complex particle effects.

Each cut-scene, cinematic, or game-play sequence that you create with Unity’s Timeline consists of a Timeline Asset and a Timeline instance.

The Timeline window creates and modifies Timeline Assets and Timeline instances simultaneously.”

Installing Cinemachine and Timeline

To install Cinemachine, Click Window > Package Manager.

Make sure Unity Registry is selected at the top of the window.

Select Cinemachine, and click the download button if necessary, otherwise click Install.

Do the same for Timeline.

In Unity 2020.3.30f1, timeline is included with the URP template it seems as shown in the gif above.

If not already installed, download and install within the Package Manager.

Verifying Installation and Accessing Package Tools

We can verify that our cinemachine and timeline is installed first of all by looking at their status in our Package Manager, but also we check that they show up in our UI.

Cinemachine will appear next to the Window tab, and Timeline is in Window > Sequencing > Timeline.

Create a New Scene Named “Timeline”

We don’t want to work in our sample scene, so create a new scene and save it as “Timeline”.

Initial Project Setup

Every scene needs lighting settings, so open your Lighting window, Scene tab, and Click “New Lighting Settings”.
Name appropriately and move into the “Scenes” folder.

We’ll set up some initial lightmapper settings including using the Progressive GPU lightmapper, setting Filtering to “Advanced” with “Optix” in the Denoiser fields.

From my experience with an 8GB VRAM, on an RTX 2080 graphics card, Max Lightmap Size of 1024 is ideal.

If you have less VRAM on your graphics card you may want to turn this down.
If you have more, you could turn it up if you were unhappy with the lightmap quality generated.

For now I’ll leave Ambient Occlusion off and Auto Generate off.

Clicking on the “Environment” tab of the “Lighting” window, I want to drag the default Directional Light into the Sun Source field.

Make sure to click File > Save and File > Save Project so that our progress is saved.

Adding Elements to Our Scene

In order to play around and learn cinemachine and timeline, we’ll need some game objects in our scene.

We’ll start by adding a plane, resetting its location to 0,0,0 and scaling it up to give us a sizeable area to play with.

Next let’s add a cube and make a new material for it so that we can get some color differentiation in our scene.

Assign the material to the cube game object.

Now that we have a project setup to play around with Cinemachine and Timeline, we’ll start by looking at Virtual Cameras in the next article.