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Thread: Build A Better Skydome - Terragen 2 ?

  1. #1
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    Default Build A Better Skydome - Terragen 2 ?

    Hi Folks,

    Just curious - while there's been little work on our ORTS environment for years - has any thought been given or plans been made on where we're going with it ?

    Skydomes as we have them now are difficult to make - mainly due to the lack of good source material/images. I believe I'm one of only two people that has uploaded any attempt to improve our Skydomes. In order to look good in ORTS - we need very high resolution images with a wide focal width - ideally without the sun being visible in the shot to avoid the two suns issue.

    If anyone is talented with a camera/photography and lives in an area with pretty flat landscape - there's something you could do to help ORTS - take some panoramic shots of the sky that we could use to make new Skydomes.

    In my travels - I came across a video where a model railroader used a terrain generation program to create computer generated backdrops for his model railroad. The backdrops are absolutely stunning and caught my attention. He used "Terragen 2 from Planetside" which appears to be a very powerful tool that may help us generate Skydomes for ORTS. The software generates terrain and renders ray traced images from it. From what I gather - Hollywood uses it to generate backdrops in movies it's so good. The software is free but the output resolution is limited - however - you can subscribe for a reasonable fee around $15.00 a month for high resolution output. I've played with the software a bit and in a brief time - I've loaded in DEM for terrain (not needed for Skydomes) and added a fully rendered sky/atmosphere. It seems to have great potential for creating all kinds of Skydomes that we could use to add some variety to ORTS. You can generate extremely wide high resolution screenshots of the sky and you don't have to include an actual sun. If wider images are needed - we can stich together panoramic shots - to build them as wide as needed. Finally - since this is our own work we could upgrade the pretty plain Skydome included with the default ORTS download - greatly enhancing the visuals for the novice user new to ORTS.


    Does anyone have any experience with this software ?


    Link To Terragen 2 Software:
    https://planetside.co.uk/


    Image Gallery Showing The True Potential Of Terragen 2:
    https://planetside.co.uk/terragen-image-gallery/


    Computer Generated Model Railroad Backdrops:
    https://youtu.be/Q27xcKyM50A


    My meager attempt after playing around for a few minutes:
    terragen.jpg

    Someone who actually knows what he is doing:
    doug-campbell_Scripture-Bluff_new-sky_edited3-1920x1080.jpg


    Regards,
    Scott
    Last edited by scottb613; 03-19-2021 at 09:11 AM.

  2. #2
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    Your attempt would make for one hell of a nice skydome1 file! Nice work, and hopefully you talented people can leverage use of this software.
    Neil

    Here at home, in the railroad mayhem capital of the world.

  3. #3
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    Being in Saskatchewan it is as flat as can be. You can watch your dog run away for three days. But I don't have an expensive professional camera. It would be nice to learn something new though.
    Rory

  4. #4
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    Scott, that software is very intriguing...taking a look at it. Nice find.
    Cheers, Gerry
    It's my railroad and I'll do what I want! Historically accurate attitude of US Railroad Barons.
    Forever, ridin' drag in railroad knowledge.


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by qballbandit View Post
    Your attempt would make for one hell of a nice skydome1 file! Nice work, and hopefully you talented people can leverage use of this software.
    Thanks Neil - I may have to subscribe and give this a wholehearted effort.

    Regards,
    Scott

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tie View Post
    Being in Saskatchewan it is as flat as can be. You can watch your dog run away for three days. But I don't have an expensive professional camera. It would be nice to learn something new though.
    Hi Rory,

    I appreciate the interest but I'm not much help with photography. I'd assume something with a tripod would work best as I would think it would make it easier to get consistent sectors of the sky. If you don't have the equipment - please don't spend any hard earned cash on my account. From my past experience with Skydomes - I think my images came in at over 8000 pixels to get it to look decent. I'm certainly willing to work with anyone who wants to get their hands dirty with this.


    Regards,
    Scott

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by R. Steele View Post
    Scott, that software is very intriguing...taking a look at it. Nice find.
    Hi Gerry,

    Sounds good - I didn't realize Terragen 2 is a very old version of the software - Terragen 4 is the current version - which I need to load up and take a look at. It would certainly be nice to have some company in this endeavor as two heads are better than one.


    Regards,
    Scott

  8. #8
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    Hi Folks,

    Woohoo - they have a "Fisheye Camera" and I was able to produce a full Skydome inside the Terragen software without additional editing in PSP - so no seams and the sky looks flawless.

    The free version only can produce 900x900 - for $15.00 a month I can produce 5,000x5,000 - and for $30.00 a month I can do 10,000x10,000 which is what I think we need. I'll think about it and decide if I'm willing to pay the fee.


    Terragen4 Skydome (900x900)
    Skydome.jpg


    Regards,
    Scott

  9. #9
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    Default Build A Better Skydome - Terragen 2 ?

    Hi Folks,

    I started my subscription with Terragen.

    Well after 4 hours of Ray Trace rendering on a fast machine - I have the very first 10,000 Pixel (240MB) Skydome in ORTS that I'm aware of.

    While it has the potential to look very good in ORTS - the attached image clearly illustrates the problem with SkyDomes as we have them now. The closer you get to the horizon the worse the distortion gets. Each face on the shape that holds the Skydome texture is 15 degrees in the horizontal which introduces massive distortion. Honestly - unless we can do something to increase the number of faces on the shape to reduce distortion - it doesn't seem worth while to continue on this path of producing realistic Skydomes.


    10,000 Pixel Skydome
    Image1.jpg


    Regards,
    Scott

  10. #10
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    Hi Folks,

    Even though dissatisfied with the ORTS introduced distortion - playing around with Terragen to see what's possible.

    Cloudy15.jpg

    Cirrus.jpg

    Cloudy75.jpg

    Regards,
    Scott

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