Fantasy animated WIP

Started by Hannes, June 15, 2015, 04:28:30 am

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I started to animate the scene I created here:,20107.0.html
Still working on the camera movement. I added an object sequence of animated birds I had already used in previous projects. The floating rocks are slowly rotating and the density shaders of the cloud layers following the terrain are animated.

Here is a small low quality movie (no GI, no other clouds, no objects and no camera movement) showing the animated clouds. It's very subtle, so look closely ;)

Lot of work to do...


The subtle cloud movement looks very promising. Will there be a camera move? A lot of your cloud motion might be lost unless the camera moves very slowly or not at all (from personal experience), but I still like this. I do want to see the environment explore more though with a nice camera move, especially knowing the detail of that village in the background...

It's a really nice scene. Let me know if you need help rendering (at 1080p).

- Oshyan


I really like this scene. The low sun light, the execution on the rocks and models. Looking forward to see how this develops.


Thank you both!
Yes, Oshyan, there will be a camera move. The static camera was only for testing purposes. I'm aware that the subtle cloud animation might be hard to see then, but I don't want to make it more intense. It should look natural. The same for the floating rocks. In my tests they are rotating slowly, but as soon as the camera moves, it looks as if they are not moving at all.
We'll see. I'm rendering frame 219 of 300 of a small low quality preview animation at the moment to see what has to be changed in the end.

Thanks for the offer, Oshyan. I'll contact you, when everything is fixed.


It has been eaten.


Rendering frame 290 of the preview now. I think tomorrow I can post it.


Dell T5500 with Dual Hexa Xeon CPU 3Ghz, 32Gb ram
Amiga 1200 8Mb ram, 8Gb ssd


I am really curious!

Funny thing: In my weekend home I'm just rendering a cloud movement animation at this moment and these days I added a village to my little "hazienda" too... a funny coincidence.


Yes, such things happen. Like our interior projects. There were quite some similarities. :)

Here is the preview. My own crits:

I think I'll leave out the birds. I put them closer to the camera to make them noticeable at all. Now they are visible less than a second much too fast moving from the upper right corner of the image to the lower left. Or I'll place them directly near the closest rock like I did in the still image hoping they are noticeable in higher resolution. But only if I render the whole thing on my own: the birds object sequence is a 15 GB file (uncompressed)! Quite annoying to upload them, I guess.

The camera move gets too fast in the last third of the animation. I'll have to add let's say 50 frames and put the animation keys from frame 300 to 350.

Any other suggestions?


Looks nice.
Other then what you said you could go just a little closer to the flying rocks maybe.
I would try just to see how it looks by beginning high and going lower with the camera especially for the last part.


Wow, not bad!  :)

The birds? - What if you let them follow the viewing person? - means in camera direction...
Besides... I cannot identify in the movie, but I think you animate them in a different program than Terragen?
I had the same thoughts about Hetzen's Rocky River revisited and the dragonfly... I felt like a helpless babywith my primitive flying viper...

The speed? - If it's a conduction from one to another scene, I think it has the perfect speed. ("Befor we have seen a story on the floating rocks... meanwhile in the village..." -understand? ;)  )

Another option would be some cuts and differnt views (e.g. one close to the floating rocks as kadri said.

What I also fight against in all my animations is the popping shadows... even in my clock-animation inside one room... strange. Do you already know what you will do?


You could use kind of a cliche revealing shot too.
Begin in one of the rock islands like it is a forest shot and go further to this scene for example.


June 17, 2015, 09:12:49 am #12 Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 09:15:15 am by Hannes
Kadri, this is a fantastic idea!!! I think I'll do that!!

Doc, the birds are made of a particle system using animated bird meshes as particles in 3ds max and then exported as an object sequence. The whole thing can be moved, scaled and rotated, but the motion itself of each bird is fixed.

I don't want to get too close to the village, unless I added some more details (hmm, maybe I'll do exactly that... :))

The shadow popping is a big issue for animations, but there are some settings to avoid that (hopefully). I once copied one of Matt's comments on this (don't remember where exactly) and saved it as a text file. Here is what Matt wrote (long text!!):

"For animations:

In the Render Subdiv Settings node:

Fully adaptive OFF, but there may be side effects. OFF may reduce detail unsatisfactorily in some places or put needless detail in others, but if you need absolutely pop-free animation it might need to be OFF in current versions. (Hannes: I leave this ON always. The side effects are really nasty!)
Force all edges ON
Jitter shading points OFF
Stabilise ray detail in motion ON (if you have v2.4 alpha)

On the 'Extra' tab of the render node:

Detail blending 1. This is the most important setting for blending between levels of detail as the distance between camera and surface changes. Values other than 1 can be used, but I would not recommend lower than 0.5. Higher blending values increase render time, unfortunately.
Displacement filter 1 (default). Allows displacements to blend between levels of detail. The effect also depends on detail blending.
Microvertex jitter OFF or ON. OFF seems to produce a more stable animation because I think there is an error somewhere, but ON reduces render times by a small amount.
Detail jitter OFF. There is an error that cause this to change from one frame to the next, so you should switch it OFF for animations.

For still images:

Either delete the Subdiv Settings Node altogether, or reset it to default settings, which are:

Fully adaptive ON (default)
Force all edges OFF (default)
Jitter shading points ON (default)
Stabilise ray detail in motion OFF (default)

Still image quality is generally higher and often with shorter render times if you have the following settings on the 'Extra' tab:

Detail blending 0 (default). Higher blending values increase render time, and are not as useful with still images, so I suggest setting to 0. Blending also softens the appearance of surfaces, but its main purpose is to blend between levels of detail in animations.
Displacement filter between 0 and 1. I always leave this at 1 (default) for still and animations.
Microvertex jitter ON (default)
Detail jitter ON (default)

Briefly, this is what the Render Subdiv Settings do:

Fully adaptive causes micropolygons to be more heavily subdivided when the surface is stretched by displacements, but reduces the amount of subdivision where the surface is compressed in screen space due to the angle of view or due to displacements. For stills this is usually a good idea, but it can lead to sudden changes between frames in an animation (and may also produce gaps in stills, although I am not sure about this). Turning this off means that the amount of subdivision is quite regular according to the undisplaced surface, and therefore stable in animations, but doesn't give the best image quality when studying each frame separately. Big displacements will look quite faceted when this is turned off.

Force all edges fixes one of the problems that causes gaps between micropolygons. If two neighbouring micropolygons A and B are subdivided to different levels along a shared edge, this can cause gaps. Force all edges causes the shared edges to be subdivided to the same level. This helps in both animations and stills. The default is OFF because this feature hasn't been in use for very long and it does slightly increase render time. For animations, though, it's probably worth the cost to remove artefacts.

Jitter shading points chooses a random point on each micropolygon as the point where lighting and shaders are calculated. The results of those calculations are used to colour the whole micropolygon. Jittering provides a more natural image, but because of an error in current versions the jitter is different on each frame so it is a source of unwanted noise in animations.

Stabilise ray detail in motion. This feature is even more recent than the others, and needs some further work, but its purpose is to blend between levels of detail when calculating shadows and reflections. If it's working correctly, it should have two benefits. It should minimise the crawling of shadows across surfaces as the distance from camera changes. The crawling motion is instead replaced by a gradual blend between different shadow positions. (Unfortunately it's impossible to completely stop the shadows from changing shape, because the terrain that casts the shadows needs to change levels of detail as the camera moves.) Second, because the shadow positions are now blended instead of moving from frame to frame, popping that occurs when shadow-casting micropolygons very close to the point receiving the shadow change their shape should no longer happen. Unfortunately, stabilise ray detail in motion produces artefacts of its own - sometime a kind of cross-hatching pattern is visible. This is something I still need to improve.

I really don't like having all these options. The goal is hide these behind a couple of simple options which should optimise Terragen for animations or stills.



Its good Hannes. I don't know that you ever show bad stuff.
I agree that starting from the floating rocks is an interesting idea.

I was happy to see the fires were burning actively in the town. Animation cut out just as I was getting to see them more clearly. If they look real good up close, then let us get a little closer in the render too.
It has been eaten.


Sounds like a good idea. What you can also do is place one of the rocks nearer the town and start from that forest (with a view of that town down below if possible) in a slower movement, in which you see the other rocks in the distance slowly turning (already giving the idea that you might stand on one), then move out and circle around slowly over the town, and get the intial rock in view (maybe). This will be awesome, Hannes! Kick you machine into action.