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General => Open Discussion => Topic started by: efflux on March 29, 2008, 12:13:12 pm

Title: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 29, 2008, 12:13:12 pm
It's meant to be Spring here in the UK but it is still cold. I took a load of photos a few days ago. This is Carlisle. In the distance is the Lake District. Matt lives behind that mountain.

http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/media/folder_165/file_1646366.jpg

Maybe these can provide some TG2 inspiration. I have quite a few that I will post at Renderosity. I wish I had a better camera. My lenses are OK but the camera is a Canon 300D. Otherwise I'd have got better colour and detail clarity and bigger resolution in case of printing. I plan on buying an A3 printer for graphics and photography printing. These shots could have been so much much better with a better camera and A4 printable. I'll never get those same cloud formations and snow again. It was perfect photography conditions for several days :( A new camera is on my shopping list. However Lightzone can do wonders in post editing.


Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: rcallicotte on March 29, 2008, 12:44:17 pm
Great.  Thanks for sharing.  Check out the new Clouds Library in the file section.  It's got possibilities.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 12:05:22 am
I like to use more misty clouds not cumulus in TG. I have some good TG2 clouds like this. I think, for example, the clouds in that photo would be difficult to achieve in TG2. That type of cloud always ends up looking solid in TG2 to my eyes. I can't say I've ever really explored it though. I can't do so at the moment. TG2 is too time consuming. I'll get back to it later. Photography is quicker. You can learn from taking photos but also from the post processing. I've redone post processing on some of my previous TG2 renders and the difference is very noticeable. For example I post processed some from the final full res render, imagining I might print a few. I had applied sharpening for example but when it came to posting the renders on the net I simply downsized. This is a no no. You need to apply correct sharpening to the end resolution image of every size.

I rave about that Lightzone app a lot but has anyone tried it? It's great for editing graphics renders.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 12:11:49 am
It's interesting when you analyze your work. Why does something work? I never do this at the time of creation. It just feels right. Now I look at that photo and I see what works. For example the dark line of trees which is reflected in shape by the light line of clouds.

You can create amazing worlds in apps like TG2 and Mojoworld but you are also like a photographer. Especially with Mojoworld this was very obvious because people shared planets. Often the planet builders made amazing planets but the best renders were done by someone else who had a better eye for a picture.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 12:56:04 am
To give you an example. Look at this blurry washed out disaster:

http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/media/folder_151/file_1504890.jpg

I just spent a couple of minutes reprocessing this. The result:

http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/6186/copper60fixgl1.jpg

This isn't even exactly a favorite image. I really damaged some of my later stuff on the net post versions. Also, Gimp on the Mac has some highly dodgy tiff conversion. OK in Linux though for some reason.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 01:19:56 am
Another shot. This type of sky can be done well in TG2.

http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/media/folder_165/file_1646702.jpg
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Harvey Birdman on March 30, 2008, 02:47:56 am
Those are really pretty, E! I need to start experimenting with post-processing my digital snaps. Maybe that's the missing element. Like I've said, I used to accomplish some pretty nice stuff with my 35mm film cameras, but I've just never gotten the hang of my digital camera (a little Olympus). I have a custom convolution filter program I've written that works really well, but I just haven't gotten into the habit of running digital snaps through it.

You guys are much more professional at this than I am.   ;)
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 03:20:28 am
You can work miracles these days with the post on seemingly useless photos. I haven't concentrated enough on it with the graphics either. Now that I've started doing a lot with the photos I realize how poorly I treated some of my graphics renders. You have more room to maneuver with raw photo images but still, even with graphics renders you can do a whole lot.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Cyber-Angel on March 30, 2008, 07:52:20 am
Quote from: Harvey Birdman on March 30, 2008, 02:47:56 am
Those are really pretty, E! I need to start experimenting with post-processing my digital snaps. Maybe that's the missing element. Like I've said, I used to accomplish some pretty nice stuff with my 35mm film cameras, but I've just never gotten the hang of my digital camera (a little Olympus). I have a custom convolution filter program I've written that works really well, but I just haven't gotten into the habit of running digital snaps through it.

You guys are much more professional at this than I am.   ;)


All I can say is that is always the case with every thing in life there are people who have a little more knowledge...a little more experience then us we can learn much form them. We try and some times fail but we try again along the way despondency can be a close companion, which left unchecked can be the better of us.

All we can ever do is try for lest we be children and not men and ask our children's children to forgive us for that which we did not do this day nor the next; why the kin of our kin asks "Where you not there that day, did you not care enough to try?).
_______________________________________________

All we can do is what we must, before age and time turn-
Hands and minds to dust.
Our kin looks to us in all things to try or care enough to say
"This task I have tried my best but am not worthy of this task, that be best done by better men then I".

Do not be consumed by overwhelming pride for pride comes before a fall, a fall from grace-
Look to mighty Rome or Greece lofty bastions of Civilizations creation; But see them now
how far they fell, wolves bayed at their doors but they slumbered on, until there walls fell,
Ruins now, only dusty pages recall them now, they did not try so now their dust.

Do you who ever you maybe care enough about your legacy, a footnote or a library or simply be one of
The countless many who's name time and history don't recall, content
Just to slip into to the timeless, ageless dark called oblivion? 

So now, before I go though while brief a time I have been with you all and say lest for now
Audre care enough in all things to try, come what may the best you can
Do not boast nor brag nor fight weather with kin or folk abroad so you may say "I did what I could and a job well done"-
Should we per chance meet in the By and By you may fell free to say "I am now at peace and in life at least I tried".

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Just what I think on that subject. Peace to all.

Regards to you.

Cyber-Angel  ;D
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: rcallicotte on March 30, 2008, 07:59:50 am
@efflux - Thanks for sharing these.  Very nice and strangely almost look like TG2 in the cloud forms.  Hence, why I noted the File Sharing for clouds.  It is fun thinking about sharing these.  I have a couple of photos I've taken of clouds.  Natures clouds always look so much better than in Terragen, but there are so many different avenues for things to go - changes in the wind and updrafts and downdrafts and moisture changes and pressure systems...not sure complete imitation is even possible.

We can try, though, eh?

As for Lightzone, I've tried it awhile ago and do not remember it.   :-[
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 11:54:34 am
Maybe once TG2 goes multi core we'll all be getting more into clouds. Otherwise it's a bit slow. I don't think any app does a great job at cumulus style clouds. I imagine that it's very difficult to replicate due to the way the lighting interacts with those clouds but for more wispy clouds I think TG2 can be very realistic.

The camera I use has some limits. It has less colour and detail than newer cameras. For clouds this does tend to make them a little more TG2 looking. In fact this camera's lack of total sharpness ends up providing a more painterly look, especially after a bit of post processing but when I look at crisp clear shots taken on better cameras it makes me wish I had one.

Another important point. To take good cloud shots I'd say it's vital to have a polarizing filter. Then you see more of the cloud forms with no light blow out. In fact I have a polarizing filter on my camera most of the time.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 12:03:31 pm
Another thing you'll notice with landscape photography is that our eyes adjust to light in a way that a camera can't. Hence the polarizing filter to help with this. When we look at a landscape we see the ground and the clouds easily but actually the sky is hugely brighter than the ground. With a camera, it's best to make sure the sky is right but the ground is too dark then you can post the ground back or you can take multiple exposures and post them together. It makes you wonder what we are doing in TG2? Making dim lit worlds maybe.

This has got me thinking because for example in my favorite planet, one called Red, I did turn the sun up to an extent that if I removed the cloud cover then the sky would be totally blown out in renders. When the sun does poke through on that planet it creates very nice realistic looking lighting. I also know for fact that in some of the most beautiful Mojoworlds the sun is turned up.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 30, 2008, 12:40:33 pm
This is the planet I am on about and a fixed downsize jpg not the blurry crap over at Renderosity. Maybe I'm oversharpening but better than the extreme blur. I should repost those at Renderosity:

http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/5844/redfixbg6.jpg

This planet has lighting which approximates what you start to understand from taking photos. The sun is turned up slightly and without those clouds it would be too bright but I think that's how things actually are. In reality, even when a clear sky and ground lit with full sun, the sky will turn out very bright in a photo. This is my favorite planet and favorite render. Maybe all to do with the lighting. I'm going to experiment further but not now. Too little time.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: rcallicotte on March 30, 2008, 05:07:08 pm
efflux, your work is sensational.  I'm aghast you don't spend the time on it, compared to photography.  But, what do I know?  Really, you could be a genius at one or the other, but your work in TG2 is always so cool.  I love this.  What I really can't wait to see is what you do with the next version.  Transparency included.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 31, 2008, 01:23:27 am
Thanks Calico. I'm glad you like it. I have a time problem. I have this work that's been dragging on for several years now. A house that has been renovated and is near completion but hopefully soon I will get back into artwork.

About the sun. I think you need to have it's strength set to a minimum of 4. Small changes have a big effect and that change will make the sky very bright if it's clear but it's actually more natural. The problem comes in that we can't control the light by polarizing in the way nearly all landscape photographers do but we do have contrast and gamma and I've been experimenting with the openEXR output. I actually saved most renders in this format but never used it. Cinepaint can handle it and you get big headroom for changing exposure and gamma. Just out of interest, because my renders are much bigger than the ones I post on the net, here is a render I posted at Renderosity:

http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/media/folder_156/file_1551512.jpg

Then a detail post processed slightly differently:

http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/826/pig40postdq7.jpg

Another one at Renderosity:

http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/media/folder_156/file_1556551.jpg

and a detail after Open EXR exposure and colour adjustments:

http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/3182/pig240posteh6.jpg

The problems are at the TG2 end now. I'll need to get better renders.

This is a good filter in Gimp. Gimp is the best for your final sharpening. The results are better than any other app I've tried:

http://docs.gimp.org/en/plug-in-nlfilt.html

Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 31, 2008, 01:42:04 am
Just to show you the wonders of Lightzone post processing:

http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/media/folder_165/file_1647369.jpg

Then the shockingly poor original:

http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/9472/originalkh7.jpg
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Oshyan on March 31, 2008, 02:24:04 am
Actually, rather than increasing sunlight strength, you might try increasing exposure (which more directly matches how you would use a real camera to work with a scene that has a bright sky). You should then get correctly exposed ground and brighter sky (a lot of people aim for a middleground in TG2 work with a dark-ish ground and well-exposed sky). You can use an EXR to correct in post if necessary. Photomatix makes it easy, Photoshop also does fairly well, though Cinepaint may have more functions to work with as it's dedicated to high dynamic range image adjustment.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 31, 2008, 02:01:22 pm
Hi Oshyan.

I've yet to go into TG2 to experiment with this idea. However if you think about exposure with photography it never alone nicely fixes a high contrast between sky and ground or at least not usually. It depends where the sun is as you shoot. Many shots have other things used. First, a polarizing filter and then often some form of post.

It's just theory at the moment but I think there is a tendency to make TG2 scene to render exposed evenly but this could possibly result is dimness so I'm thinking of making a scene that has the real problems you'd have taking a photo. For example in a TG2 world, if you decide to change a shot to sunset then you'll usually have to bring the sunlight strength up. Maybe it wasn't bright enough in the first place?

Anyway here's some extreme post on a TG2 image. Sharpening done in Gimp. Probably too much but I'll eventually get a nice balance:

(http://img353.imageshack.us/img353/7669/red2castsharpny7.jpg)

The original. I say original but this not like the original. It's another shoddy jpg downsize at Renderosity:

http://www.renderosity.com/mod/gallery/media/folder_157/file_1562413.jpg

There is a lot of jaggedness in my TG2 render outputs. I need to work on that.

Here is a screenshot of Lightzone with that image being post processed:

(http://img253.imageshack.us/img253/2937/lightzoneza4.jpg)

You see the selections. You've got polygon, spline and bezier to choose from. Then the inner zone is the line of where "feathering" reaches. You just drag that about as well. You can also select colours within those selection areas for more specific processing. When you go into another app it seems like a total pain in the ass. On the left you see various styles that you can save. The thumbnail shows instant feedback of the style as you hover over it. On the right in the processing stack you see a zone mapper open. The thumbnail above gives visual feedback of each zone as you move the mouse up through the zones then when you find the correct zone you just drag it. There are a lot of other tools. Relight for example which does what it says. This is of course the Linux version running in Ubuntu  :-*

It's free at present but I expect Lightcrafts will eventually charge. I bought a Mac license anyway. It's not system specific.

Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 31, 2008, 02:30:28 pm
He he. I need to stop now before I start firing up TG2. I was messing around with this yesterday and forgot that the clocks had changed here. I ended up an hour late for work  :D
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Oshyan on March 31, 2008, 02:51:04 pm
Lightzone looks extremely cool!

In regards to TG2 and exposure, I was not suggesting that adjusting exposure alone would be able to compensate for differences in brightness between land and sky. Rather that using exposure *instead* of sun power adjustments would be a more "realistic" or real world analogue, since you can't of course adjust the sun in the real world. ;D You are then left with the same problems as the real world which can be solved in the same way. In other words if you have an existing real-world workflow that solves those problems, either through HDR post processing, or some other approach, then you could apply it to the TG2 image in the same way. Once you start messing about with changing sun strength, etc. those techniques go out the window because they're based around a real-world exposure range. In your example with the sunset, instead of increasing sun strength you could increase exposure, then do a tone mapping from an HDR (EXR) output, for instance.

Not to say that adjusting sun strength and other TG2-specific approaches aren't valid - they certainly are. But if you're trying for strict realism or at least that realistic feel of light I think you'll have an easier time achieving it by sticking to what's possible in the real world (e.g. exposure compensation).

- Oshyan
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 31, 2008, 03:39:56 pm
Yeah, I understand what you mean about the exposure Oshyan. I'm also thinking about the contrasts. If the sun is turned up then in theory there should be more contrast between the lit areas and shadows even if underexposed. I'm thinking this would create a more realistic world because I'm convinced there is a lack of this kind of contrast in TG2 renders. The global illumination makes for even less contrast. I can see it in many of my renders except where the sun is brighter. You could use various tweaks in TG2 to compensate all this (probably what everyone is doing) but I'm thinking of experimenting with treating it like I was taking a photo with problems that need to be resolved in post. I think that if you say open a default scene and start working on everything then you will be adjusting everything to look good with that sunlight strength rather than adjusting the sun then everything else. I know this to be the case from Mojoworld. You design the planet then decide you want the sun turned up for a brighter look but all your colours and everything were designed with the lower sun setting.

If you think about reality, the sun is very very bright. If you look at a landscape with bright sky then your eyes mask the brightness so you can see into shadows as well. Of course a camera can't do this so that's when polarizing filters, post work etc comes in. When you look away from brightness it takes your eyes a bit of time to readjust from the extremes. I'm just thinking of trying to make renders look like a photograph even with it's inherent problems.

As for Lightzone. I love this app (apart from a bug in the Linux version - colour selection luminosity doesn't work). Cropping also has a few minor issues connected with the downsizing. Downsizing the image  never downsizes to exactly the resolution you want but these are side issues. I do downsizing in another app.

I think these companies have a hard task because of industry standard apps like Photoshop so it's not easy to break into the market even if their app is superb. That's why I mention Lightzone a lot. Definitely worth trying. I want to see them succeed.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Oshyan on March 31, 2008, 03:43:51 pm
There is a simple contrast adjustment in TG2 if contrast is what you want. ;D My point is that to treat it like a photograph you have to *not* adjust the sun, because that's not possible in the real world. In theory the TG2 default sun strength is similar to the real world, so adjusting exposure or contrast is a more photo-analogue method of working IMO. But as I said there are many approaches and all are legitimate. It's just a matter of what is most comfortable and effective for each person.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 31, 2008, 04:29:31 pm
I think there is a difference though Oshyan, because the contrast adjustment in TG2 will contrast adjust the whole render whereas a brighter sun will effect clouds etc in a different way that will not simply be a contrast change across the render. Clouds will blow out much brighter across the sky and light is going to be reflected round. I think these issues become much more interesting now that the apps have moved on with global illumination and glowing atmospheres etc. I dispute that the sun is similar to the real world in the default. If you open TG2 at default then move the camera to look at the sun it's not really very bright at least not like looking at the real sun (of course the comparison is a bit flawed since were looking at at a computer monitor here - not quite as bright as the sun) but I think it's set to get you a render that is fairly evenly exposed without a too bright atmosphere. If you try the default looking into the sun but turn it up by 0.5 to 4 then it looks a bit brighter and looks brighter if you take in down to the horizon. However that small change in setting becomes a lot more apparent on your ground lighting when you start really building the scene with hills, clouds etc.

My idea is to actually not change the sun strength for a planet once it's set so that when you move the sun around you don't decide it needs more strength for say a sunset.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Oshyan on March 31, 2008, 05:36:19 pm
I think your approach is fair. If TG2's default sun is *not* a real-world equivalent, I think it should be. People are much more used to working with photography than anything. This would of course be more effective if the camera controls (aside position, e.g. exposure, zoom) were more immediately accessible like a real camera, rather than having to go to the Camera node to adjust.

- Oshyan
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Matt on March 31, 2008, 05:54:33 pm
Oshyan, Efflux,

If your TG2 scene uses only one sunlight and an Enviro Light set to Global Illumination mode, then adjusting the sunlight strength has the same effect as adjusting the exposure. This is because global illumination derives entirely from light that comes from the sun and then bounces/scatters around the scene a few times. In this scenario a change to sunlight strength affects everything but the balance between sky and ground, sunlight and shadow, remain the same. This is how it would be in the real world if you were able to artificially change the sunlight intensity and attempt to photograph it.

If you use other light sources, or use some of the ambient tweaks in the atmosphere, or use the Enviro Light in Ambient Occlusion mode, then they will be independent from the sunlight strength, so changing the sunlight strength would change the balance between sunlight and shadow, or sky and ground.

If in doubt, adjust the thing you actually want to adjust :)

Matt
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Oshyan on March 31, 2008, 06:01:49 pm
Good info Matt, thanks for the clarifications. :)

- Oshyan
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Matt on March 31, 2008, 06:22:11 pm
Efflux, I think you're right about needing more contrast. To be more realistic, most scenes need terrain and vegetation textures to pretty dark relative to clouds or haze. Ground textures are usually surprisingly dark, and only bright in a photo because of the choice of exposure.

The defaults in TG are something of a compromise between how I'd like them to be and how most people expect them to be... at least until they start thinking about light intensity and exposure... :)

A big problem is the range of types of scene that need to be rendered. Snow is so bright that TG2's default sunlight and exposure are already too bright. Some deserts can have pretty high albedo too, so you can't really generalise about how bright terrain textures should be. But on the other end of the scale you have forests which are extremely dark, and for these you need to really crank up the light levels.

I'd like to make the default sunlight much brighter, but I think that can only happen when TG's interface has some particular enhancements which we haven't made yet. I would like to provide colour editing tools that make it easier to define dark surface colours which look right when lit by bright sunlight, and exposure controls should be considered throughout the user interface. The user shouldn't need to navigate to the camera or sunlight settings to experiment with different light intensities. But it seems like you've already made the necessary leap :)

Matt
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Matt on March 31, 2008, 06:34:57 pm
BTW, I know that some people reading this will be thinking something like "hey, but you live in England where it's always foggy. Sky doesn't look like that where I live."  But overcast skies reveal so much about how dark most ground and vegetation textures actually are, whether or not you're rendering an overcast sky. And it's been a while since I've seen any fog ;)

Matt
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Harvey Birdman on March 31, 2008, 06:38:54 pm
Quote from: Matt on March 31, 2008, 06:34:57 pm
BTW, I know that some people reading this will be thinking something like "hey, but you live in England where it's always foggy. Sky doesn't look like that where I live."  But overcast skies reveal so much about how dark most ground and vegetation textures actually are, whether or not you're rendering an overcast sky. And it's been a while since I've seen any fog ;)

Matt




Nope. Not me. Swear to god, I wasn't thinking that. Honest.

;D   ;D
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Matt on March 31, 2008, 06:40:25 pm
Quote from: efflux on March 31, 2008, 04:29:31 pm
My idea is to actually not change the sun strength for a planet once it's set so that when you move the sun around you don't decide it needs more strength for say a sunset.


I think you might be imposing an unnecessary restriction there. In photography you would have no qualms adjusting your exposure to suit the picture, and you should do the same with a sunset in TG.

Matt
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: efflux on March 31, 2008, 06:47:49 pm
"Ground textures are usually surprisingly dark, and only bright in a photo because of the choice of exposure."

This is exactly what I've been thinking especially after taking photos but there is a tendency to make lighter ground surfaces in TG2. This is what happens in Mojo a well.

I do believe TG2 defaults are quite like conditions in the UK.

So the exposure in the camera settings is the same as sunlight strength but camera specific so we can have various cameras exposed differently instead of having to adjust the sunlight. I've never really adjusted the camera exposure.

Then the route to experiment with is simply surface colours in relation to sun strength (or exposure) and atmospheric/cloud tweaks. When I brought the sun strength up I had to adjust the clouds and atmosphere but I was happier with the results from that planet.
Title: Re: UK Spring
Post by: Matt on March 31, 2008, 07:12:25 pm
Quote from: efflux on March 31, 2008, 06:47:49 pm
So the exposure in the camera settings is the same as sunlight strength but camera specific so we can have various cameras exposed differently instead of having to adjust the sunlight. I've never really adjusted the camera exposure.


With one sunlight + global illumination (and no other luminous surfaces or ambient tweaks), then yes they have the same effect, and you have the choice of changing exposure per camera if you wish.

Often I simply adjust the sunlight as you do.

Matt