Confused about Terragen vs the others

Started by megacal, August 08, 2012, 08:29:22 pm

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I'm starting to get excited about TG2. I opened the free version a few times in the past, but never got far.
I think it's time to get serious, especially seeing what others have accomplished, and the gui seems much
more robust and user friendly.

The same thing happened to me with day last October, I realized the time had come!  ;D

Specifically, I'd like to re-create the Martian landscape using a hi-res height map NASA photo, and
go exploring, looking for Martians.  :)

I hope to create some Martians with ZBrush and import them (rigged?)
to TG2.

1)  Can I import an .obj flying saucer created in another app, and fly it though a TG2/Animation scene?
Or is it "first person" view only? (like Kronos Canyon fly-through).

2)  Is there any reason to integrate TG2 with VUE, GeoControl2, or WorldMachine?  Doesn't TG2 do it all and best?
(I'm only interested in terrains, oceans, lakes, and skies.....not vegetation).

But also saw a beautifully done galaxy here, done with TG2?

I just don't know the limits for TG2/Animation.

Thanks in advance.  :D

Andrew March

In all fairness TG2's import and animation features are probably it's weakest points, not saying that Vue is any better.

Used as part of your pipeline with a decent 3d programme and video compositing programme it will blow you away, just don't think for a minute that you can do it all in one piece of software.


Andrew is right in that you can better do this type of work in multiple packages.

For instance, I would render out the martians/UFO in a separate pass in your 3D package of choice like Maya/Max/LW/etc and comp it in your package of choice. Not will it only be faster, it will also give you more control on the final look.

WorldMachine/Geocontrol are heightfield generators/processors which allow you to create highly detailed heightfields.
TG2 can do this also and actually can create far more detailed terrain than those packages.
However, TG2 can't do erosion like that. It does have an erosion operator for heightfields, but better not touch it as it is damn slow and visually not as nice as WM/GC erosion. Also, WM/GC offer mask output of the erosion which is very useful for shading/texturing/masking in TG2.


August 09, 2012, 09:00:21 am #3 Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 03:10:06 pm by TheBadger

Should have read what you were asking. I thought I did, must be loosing it.

*Edited, removed post because it made no cense at all in the context of the OP question*
It has been eaten.

lat 64

August 09, 2012, 11:39:50 am #4 Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 11:42:24 am by lat 64

I made some simple flying saucers when I was just starting out two years ago. I placed them as a population in a reddish landscape that I called "Mars" (not the real terrain from NASA).
I did place a couple of flying objects(airplane and dirigable)  in simple, lo-res movies for fun. The movies were not composite, all done as renders from TG2. They are not great, but you can see them at:
Scroll down through the posts to find them.
I'm still a noob here, but having fun with a similar thing you are proposing.
I make the models in Google Sketchup and export them to Collada, then use Blender to make the models as xx.obj.

The wikis are VERY helpful. They are a work in progress though.

I'm a half century plus ten yrs old. Yikes!


without wanting to hijack (or should that be abduct?!)
here are some great ufos posted by calico:

sounds like a great project btw megacal!


Thanks you guys for all the helpful feedback!   :D

QuoteI would render out the martians/UFO in a separate pass in your 3D package of choice like Maya/Max/LW/etc and comp it in your package of choice.

My "main app" is Carrara8Pro......also have C4D, VUE10, Bryce7, Blender 2.63, and ZBrush4R4.
What does it mean to comp it? Put it in a layer? I want to fly through the scene.....doesn't comping mean a 2D image as a background or
back drop?

Already have GC2, and was considering WorldMachine, but will focus on TG2 for animation.

I agree about using multiple apps....they are all good at something, and I enjoy trying to integrate them when possible.

BTW, The Badger.....I saw your post earlier but didn't have time to grok it, and was interested in what you said.....can you
please repeat it?  :)

Thanks, Inkydigit, for the link.....always interested in seeing what others have's relevant.  :)

If anyone cares to see some of what I've done in Carrara, et al, here is my YouTube channel.

My best Martian stuff was done (imho) using Hexagon to model the ships (inspired by War of the Worlds '53 when I was an impressionable lad of
8, peeping through my fingers at the cinema....still gives me a chill!). Here are the Martians searching for humans! =O
(be sure to turn on the sound......shudder!)

But I haven't been able to get the degree of realism that I see in Terragen.....I have VUE10, but it runs very slowly even
on my i7 with 6gb ram. But it does have a very extensive erosion abiltity.

Just not sure which way to go. I've tried importing the map for Olympus mons into Carrara, VUE, GC2, and somehow am not getting
what I think it should look like, even after lowering the vertical scale. Will try it asap in TG2 free for now.

There are a lot of intriguing features I see on Mars that I want to re-create and zoom through. Here's Mars using a hi-res NASA
photo  mapped onto a sphere in Carrara.

Next I want to land (amid dust and flames!) and go exploring.....need to confront my phantoms!  ;D


Hey Russ,

I like the Mars-scape with saucers.....I love simple, but ominous! =O

Here's a mothership I did in's a recurring theme for me.  :o


August 09, 2012, 07:23:15 pm #9 Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 07:25:22 pm by megacal
Thanks for sharing, Inkydigit.  :D

I like the terrain panoramas and skies especially.....and all the objects.  ;D

We had a Close Encounter a couple of years ago while camping in the local desert.....just wanted directions to the nearest McDonald's.  ;D

Will go through the QuickStart Guide, and scene set up asap, and spend more time looking through all the nooks and crannies here at the forum to get up to speed......looking forward to adding TG2 (with Anim eventually) to my "pipeline".  :)

ps- forgot to ask Russ.....what app did you use to model and animate the seaplane and derigible??? Pretty cool.  :D


hi megacal,

Quotedoesn't comping mean a 2D image as a background or

Sure, it can. But describing it as 2.5D is probably the kind of compositing your thinking of.

What T-U was saying was that you should animate your objects in another program and then composite them with a video you make from TG2.
But yes you can animate objects in tg2. However that is limited. If all you want to do is move a UFO, or airplane through your TG2 environment, this can be done. There are some videos here of things like you are asking about.

If you buy TG2 first and foremost for the realistic procedural landscapes it makes, than you will not be disappointed with the software *IMHO*
And everything else you can do with it will be gravy.

What I said before was just a list of things that I use Tg2 for. I had read your post, but went and read some other things before I responded here. When I came back to your thread I didn't re-read ::) SO my post didn't really make much cense. But the thing that is most useful from what I wrote is that for $99 you can buy Houdini full version HD non-com. It has a professional level 3D compositing package. And that after effects may be a good choice for compositing too. I see that you wrote you had blender and C4D. Do they have compositing packages?

I looked through some of your videos. From what I saw you can do everything in those (that I viewed) with TG2. Definitely a more "real" look. I say this based on all the videos I have seen that are posted here.

It has been eaten.


August 09, 2012, 08:50:46 pm #11 Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 09:00:27 pm by megacal
Quoteyou can buy Houdini full version HD non-com for $99
-The Badger

WOW! =O  That's tempting....will have to check it out. I tried to try Houdini a few years ago, and
couldn't even launch it.....maybe time to try again.

But I'd be very surprised if Blender & C4D can't already do least Blender. I only have C4D core with the
Advance Render. Too expensive to upgrade that anymore.

I also have Messiah the promo last year (or 2010?).....haven't done anything with it, but it's supposed
to be a great animation package. 

I'll see if I can find a tutorial for comping a video in Blender. The thing is, how do you create a video in eg Blender and
add it to a TG2 scene so it looks 3D?

Would you have an example somewhere?

Houdini Apprentice is $99......per year:(
But am downloading the free version just to see what it looks like.  ;)


It sounds like you need to understand some things better before you make your choice.

You will want to look into "match moving cameras" "camera tracking" for 2.5D at least. has many tuts on this. You don't need to do them, just follow along and you'll hear all the major concepts and see them in simple examples. THis is all related to compositing.

You also need to know about and understand importing and exporting camera data between apps. here is a TG2 link discussing .chan, the file type that you will use with TG2:

Here is a link to a tutorial site which I have been using a bit lately, and which others here have used and posted positively about. Many of the beginning tuts are free. At the very least a detailed video over view of the lessons is available in every area: if you are going to move up to Houdini or Maya or 3Dmax you'll want to consider this kind of service. I'm finding sites like this are the fastest way next to an in person teacher to improve my understanding. Teaching your self by your self takes to long. And the people here on the forums are not always available, though they do go out of their way to help us noobs!

It may also be of help to you here if your more  clear about what you want to do. Are you just trying to learn for fun, or are you a student, or are you aiming to become a Pro? Unless you want to become a pro in some area of visual media, or are a serious hobbyist, I wouldn't spend a ton of money on any software. It sounds like you have already spent a bunch of cash on software your not to happy with the limitations of?

QuoteBut I'd be very surprised if Blender & C4D can't already do it.

I would be surprised if they could. We are talking about a specialty in the field which is separate from animating and model making, which are also their own specialties.

Good luck.

It has been eaten.


Thanks for the very helpful links.  :D

re: Camera tracking......not sure I need to get that sophisticated. Blender is evidently capable now according
to the Manual.  I would like to fly around like the demo of Mt.Saint Helens by Renderfarm.....very realistic
terrain and skies.....exactly what I want to accomplish!  :D

BTW,  just having fun with 3D....not a's a great creative outlet.

re: Digital Tutors.....yes, have used them for XSI (great app but didn't get purchase) and ZBrush.....excellent tutorials. Also VTC and

re: Animation..... if I want to show a ship flying through the scene, is when camera tracking is necessary?
If so, then I would have to learn how. 


Quotethe question is if an external renderer can work with TG2 scenes. No, not directly.
You would need to export geometry (and 2D texture perhaps) from TG2 and render and/or populate that with whateverer renderer/plugin for that renderer you like.
- Tangled Universe from this previous thread I found while searching for info on camera tracking & TG2.

This was also a question I wanted to ask, as I've been interested in 3rd party renderers, e.g. 3Delight, Yafaray, LuxRender, and Cycles for
Blender, and Octane render. But doubt it would be an improvement on TG2 capabilities from the amazing scenes rendered in it.
Don't think it would be worth the time and trouble.

Thanks much for all the feedback.  :D

Congrats & best wishes for you all in the UK for hosting the Olympics, and all your great achievements.
I know it must be a royal pita in many ways, but you've pulled it off with style and grandeur we
marvel at, here in the US. Cheers!!! :D