Glacier landscape reconstruction - Tatra Mountains

Started by jerzas, March 21, 2014, 07:58:09 am

Previous topic - Next topic


Animation shows Białka Valley glacier during the Last Glacial Maximum over 20,000 years ago.

We used 10 m resolution real world base DEM merged with reconstructed glacier topography DEM and several masks (glacier extent and glacier surface structures) created in GIS.
This is our first animation in Terragen, we are beginners with it. Some solutions are taken from this forum (thank you very much). It took 700 h to render (800 frames). We know that some features require upgrade and optimisation. We will gladly hear your opinion and remarks.

If you like to see whole Tatra Mountains during the last glaciation take a look on animation created with ArcScene. We are going to incorporate this model to Terragen environment.

Greetings Jerzy & Andrzej


Impressive. Great realisation and even greater for a first one.

Very good job



That is very well done. Thanks for showing. For glaciers and rivers like this you really need 'real terrains' (DEM, or WM terrains and masks), very hard to do procedurally.

Hope you will contribute more to this forum!


Hi. I really liked what you did.

I have some questions for you too.

On the TG render, I was only able to view it at max 480. What was your render size per frame? And how many frames per second is the animation? Did you render at 480, or was youtube not working right for me?

There was some serious blur even in the very far distance, enough to hurt my eyes a little during very fast camera moves when viewed full screen. I wonder if you would get much faster render times by rendering without motion blur on, and add it back in post? The difference in time may allow you to do More frames per second, or to do a full HD sized animation at perhaps the same (or near) cost in time? A little testing would answer that.

Its some nice work!

Welcome to the forums from me too. And I also hope to see more from you guys!


It has been eaten.


Nice work! I especially like the tundra texturing. The stripes of varying material in the glacier are nice too. I think using 2D motion blur (built-in to Terragen 3) might have given you higher quality motion blur in less time (higher quality at least in terms of smoothness - I noticed some quality issues in the blur, especially near the end when you pass close to the mountains). Some other settings may also help you. But a great initial effort.

Badger, it worked at 720p to me, didn't seem particularly blurry in the distance.

- Oshyan


IT worked now. Youtube does not like me.

Yeah the blur (and everything) is better in HD! Still hurts my eyes on hard turns. But it is the same when I watch hollywood movies.  ;)
It has been eaten.


thank you for your comments. We are very happy that you like our work. The movie has only 16 fps, that is why some fast transitions could not look as they should. We will now work on some optimization to short render time. We will definetely try the 2D motion blur too. But the thing which kills our computers most is the glacier surface, which uses water shader.
We have also uploaded some static images from the reconstruction.


You'd better use the reflective shader instead of the water shader, and then perhaps even without RT. Much faster.


Quote from: Dune on March 24, 2014, 09:28:34 am
You'd better use the reflective shader instead of the water shader, and then perhaps even without RT. Much faster.

Thx for the tip - we'll try that for a sure. Btw. your glacier renders look awesome, especially those cracks on the surface. We could learn much from you.

lat 64

This is the kind of animation I would like to produce.
I tried a couple of years ago, with an "object" as a glacier. I moved it lower as the animation rendered to show a time lapse retreat of the glacier in a movie.
I have just recently got to know a little bit about GIS and am wondering if you use a raster layer or a vector shape file to export for TG.

So much I want to do and so much I don't understand.
Thanks for showing me it's possible. I have renewed interest in this.

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


We could say that this Terragen model is a side effect of our scientific research which purpose was glaciers reconstruction. We just wanted to be closer to realistic landscape as much as possible. So before using Terragen we spent much time to recreating glaciers geometry in GIS. For do this we collect in the filed data of moraines and glacier erosional landforms, which are indicator of former glacier extent. Using a base DEM of a present topography, we drawn in detail ice-surface contours in 25 m equidistant in shape polyline file. In GIS we generated glacier DEM from contours using topo to raster tool in ArcGIS. We merged the base DEM and glacier DEM to the one raster (TIF) which was then exported to Terragen. Utilising some GIS tools we were able to create several masks in rasters. One of these masks is glacier extent raster which allowed us to set different effects on glacier surface.

Animated glacier change, hmm... we also thought about this. Taking our method, which is based in real world DEMs, it would require creating hundreds of different glacier DEMs :). So no way. But if anyone knows a way to make animation of topography (glacier) change using several a little different real world terrains, let us know how. Let say we have two different glacier models, in maximum and recessional stage. Considering glacier retreat, can we use something like displacement which goes down from one terrain surface to second one below and rate of this displacement is depended on elevation distance between these terrains?


You ought to be able to animate the blending of, say, a Merge Shader with a "before" and "after" terrain as inputs, for just one example. There are probably other options too. It's definitely possible.

- Oshyan


If the glacier is masked, it is possible to warp or transform this mask in time, but if it would fit the terrain is another issue. I think it can be done, at least for distant shots.

See this lava test I did a while back: [vimeo][/vimeo]