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View Full Version : Grass, Tree and Clone Generators!



jaxtone
10-10-2009, 09:10 AM
I already have Sasquatch (http://www.worley.com/E/Products/sasquatch/sasquatch.html) but really donīt like the interface. Itīs preview is too small to see any details and the option boxes connected to itīs preview window is only active for half of menus. When creating grass it looks very cold and dead to me. When I wanīt a short length on for an example grass, the grass lenght is by some reason set to a default value related to itīs parent objects size. If I want a huge lawn with short grass it just look crap since the percentual re-sizing becomes to sloppy.

I have been thinking about investing in some nice clone tool that handles grass, wood and other nature sceneries. There are for sure a couple of tree, grass and object generators out there. Some can do even more and some are defined to only create nature related objects. The different tools/plug-ins I have noticed is:

Pawel Olas (http://www.polas.net/plugins/index.php) natural generators seems to be two different plugs and to me the background layer generator tool feels very strange. (Since there are almost no communication on his web page about news or if he is still working for the development of LW plugs it feels insure to invest in his tools.

Sumatra (http://lwtoolbox.com/index.htm) Since there seems to be no people at "Sumatra" willing to answer e-mails I guess I have to ask some fellow wavers in here instead. Is it anyone in here that actually have tried Sumatra and can say how itīs status is compared to the other alternatives?

Another question is concerning VeggiPaint 1.0 (http://walen.se/veggipaint/index.html) for Lightwave by Walen? Is it anyone in here that actually have tried VeggiPaint and can say in wich way it improves or decrease speed and workflow in Lightwave? When looking at the demo video it looks great but itīs always nice to hear what multi plug users have to say about it.


HD Instance (http://www.happy-digital.com/instance2.asp)! What about it? Does it smash the ground with all competitive softwares or what? I donīt know since I havenīt worked with it yet but of what Iīve heard itīs an allround tool that do much more than just nature objects!

prometheus
10-10-2009, 10:35 AM
well..since I donīt have anykind of project involving these things with
lotsá trees and vegetation, other than personal projects and reels, I will
leave this alone until Lw-core getīs up and running and Ill see what can be done with that.
I would probably go with vue or hd instance if I would like to get something up fast.

Personally I would like to see a competitive undertaking and statement from Newtek and the upcoming core to actually challenge Vue as a landscape program.

That is because it seems that no matter hw much vue is supposed to work and be integrated with x-stream, there is and will be so many obstacles still being around, so it ultimatly would be better with an internal system for this in Lightwave core.
this applys to other landscaping tools also..better to elliminate import
and export pipelines and do it in lightwave.

Im talking about including the whole package with interactive preview renderer that renders it all..shadows,softshadow,atmosphere and clouds and light and godrays,camera movement and terrain vegetation creation..
creation of water,terrain,vegetation and atmospheres with clouds.
the vue previewer is one of the big things about it that makes it so easy to tweak and see everything updated pretty instantly.


Some future l-systems with ecosystem function so every l-system cell is unique would be sweet.
Remarkable that ogo-taiki couldnt be pushed further and made standard
into lightwave instead of skytracer, this plugin was around and fully volumetric long before vue got itīs spectral atmospheres.
and it interacts with hypervoxels in a way that ozone or vue x-stream cant handle, or simple use ogo taikis volumetrics on the particles instead.

But for vegetation only..thereīs a couple of issues

1.massive handling..well..hd instance can handle it.

2. every single plant unique..isnīt possible, so it will be a hack by importing
a couple of different plants to break the uniformity.

3 tree creation..well, tree generator, tree-cage are some of the few actual
tree generation programs out there, sumatra I think only has premade trees,and veggipaint I donīt think can create trees by itself, only cloning and placement.
x-frog,onyx tree, tree druid are oldie third party plugins.

Really..lw-core needs to pickup a l-system approach similar to houdinis with unique instances.
until then ..use vue and deal with compositing and integration limitations or use hd instance and premade trees.

Michael

Cageman
10-10-2009, 12:24 PM
http://www.happy-digital.com/instance_interviews.php

Look at the interview from the guys working on Animal Armageddon...

Anyhow, HDInstance is really just placement and rendering. I can see myself using Sumatra or Vegipaint + Polas Trees Generator for creating a mini-environment (lets say a tree with alot of grass around it) and then use HDInstance to place this mini-environment on many places so that I can render hundreds of millions of polygons that such a mini-environment would generate when instanced a couple of thousand times.

SplineGod
10-10-2009, 06:47 PM
I think sas is good for creating grass at a medium to far distance where you dont see the details. For the rest Id do with geometry or geometry with grass mapped onto it. Also Clone + works very well and is free. http://www.artssphere.com/plugins.php

bjornkn
10-11-2009, 07:19 AM
With the Tree/Leaves generators from Olas, as well as the Grass generator and Random cloner, you have a killer combo if you also have hd_Instance.
For generating more accurate/real trees Onyx works great.
But you don't get far when populating landscape scenes with vegetation without hd_Instance IMO.
Regarding updates etc, the Onyx app files are 5 years old, and the GUI looks more like it's 10 years old, but as it still works fine I guess they see no need for updating it. It certainly is no bloatware ;)
The same goes for Olas' plugins - they still works fine, so why update them? Tree/Leaves was updated this year BTW.

Tree/Leaves designer also let you make trees that are not possible in Onyx, like this "Global Tree" where all branches end up on the land masses.

So it has a lot uses besides making "real" trees.

Here is a "Bottoms up" image showing hd_Instance used with a single bottle and the same simplified globe mesh as above.

archijam
10-11-2009, 07:24 AM
Jaxtone, it's obvious you did not even read any of the HD Instance website before posting starting this thread.. and several of the plugins you mentioned have trial versions.

In 2 searches and 5 minutes you could have answered most of your questions.

jaxtone
10-11-2009, 10:42 AM
I donīt know why you write a reply without any valuable information at all? I am not a friend of any kind of limited demo versions because they mostly limit you from export and save stuff. This ususally limits me from evaluating the flow and compability in a work chain and leaves black holes in the process. Thatīs why I most never waste time on downloading them. (I am more the old fashioned guy that try before buy and if the software fits my interest and do the job I access a purchase order and buy it at once, if it not meet my demands I just dump it in the trashcan. Unfortunally I havenīt had time to get any "full trial versions" the latest years and that have led to that some of my hard disks are full of purchased and registered softwares that wasnīt capable of doing what I expected. Ozone 3 is definitely on of these because it crashes more than it delivers, itīs also extremely slow. Another is the remarkable Swift 3D that really sucks when it comes to render speed... Damn itīs slow and not a reply in one year from their tech support about why or how you can make it work better.)

About Happy Digital I have purchased stuff from them earlier. In this special case Iīve emailed Graham with my questions a while ago without any luck in receiveing a reply from him. When I have read some of the replies on this Lightwave Forum in another thread I understand it as Happy Digital will abandon LW so that is another reason why I ask.

I experience that the information from other wavers have been very nice and informative and I guess people that actually work or have worked with these plug-ins are the best to answer my questions before I go any further with investing in any of them!

You are of course welcome to think whatever you like about anything in here but to me your reply didnīt add anything interesting at all.

Regards
jax


Jaxtone, it's obvious you did not even read any of the HD Instance website before posting starting this thread.. and several of the plugins you mentioned have trial versions.

In 2 searches and 5 minutes you could have answered most of your questions.

jaxtone
10-11-2009, 11:44 AM
Personally I would like to see a competitive undertaking and statement from Newtek and the upcoming core to actually challenge Vue as a landscape program... Im talking about including the whole package with interactive preview renderer that renders it all... Michael

Interesting information since the closet I got to "VUE" is the download process from their website. I actually bought Ozone 3 once but since it is so slow and buggy I didnīt really want to open VUE. It looks great but there isnīt enough information about the actual render times and poly counts for most of their nature sceneries. Wasnīt VUE in a bundle with Lightwave a couple of years ago?

jaxtone
10-11-2009, 12:02 PM
Yeah that combo you mention would probably fit most needs, at least if working in Lightwave... I guess that HD Instance is a major need!


http://www.happy-digital.com/instance_interviews.php

Look at the interview from the guys working on Animal Armageddon...

Anyhow, HDInstance is really just placement and rendering. I can see myself using Sumatra or Vegipaint + Polas Trees Generator for creating a mini-environment (lets say a tree with alot of grass around it) and then use HDInstance to place this mini-environment on many places so that I can render hundreds of millions of polygons that such a mini-environment would generate when instanced a couple of thousand times.

SplineGod
10-11-2009, 12:08 PM
Another piece of advice Id give is to to resist the tempation to create large plant covered environments. I see people do t his all the time. Most of the time the majority of the objects in the environment will never be seen. Model or put into the scene only what the camera is going to see. That will reduce a great deal of your overhead as well as reduce or eliminate the need for additional plugins.

jaxtone
10-11-2009, 12:10 PM
Thank you for the tip and the attached link, Iīll check it up!

You are right when describing SAS. To me SAS is useless when trying to create a lawn that both looks ok at a distance as well as in a close up. Maybe this is general for most plugs of this kind but now I need something else that donīt force me to over-plan where or what the camera will shoot! Meaning that this could be done with good planning and different high and low res levels on the objects in the scene.

I also experience SAS interface as very limited. Too small and you need to tweak a lot when creating stuff in there. One example is when the object is large and SAS by default sets a minimum/maximum ratio for the lenght of the grass without giving me a choice directly to decide the range of length.

Yeah, I can play around with the percentage level but only in a framed ratio that SAS alreade have decided.




I think sas is good for creating grass at a medium to far distance where you dont see the details. For the rest Id do with geometry or geometry with grass mapped onto it. Also Clone + works very well and is free. http://www.artssphere.com/plugins.php

jaxtone
10-11-2009, 12:13 PM
Yeah! I created low poly objects with image maps on all parts I for sure knew was never gonna be any close up camera shots on! But thats a good advice for anyone that didnīt know.

Thanks!


Another piece of advice Id give is to to resist the tempation to create large plant covered environments. I see people do t his all the time. Most of the time the majority of the objects in the environment will never be seen. Model or put into the scene only what the camera is going to see. That will reduce a great deal of your overhead as well as reduce or eliminate the need for additional plugins.

jaxtone
10-11-2009, 12:20 PM
Here is a "Bottoms up" image showing hd_Instance used with a single bottle and the same simplified globe mesh as above.

Wow I really liked your bottle image. That was great in showing how effective HD instance can be in a limited environment. But let me ask you this:

If I would like to add another bottle here and there on that planet would that be possible? In that case is it just to add "master nodes" in HD Instance and tell these to pick up different sub objects? If so, whatīs the limitation of "master nodes" in HD Instance when creating a Lightwave scene?

It more and more feels like HD instance would be the best clone and render tool and that tree and grass generators are a compliment.

bjornkn
10-11-2009, 01:07 PM
You can easily model grass without any plugins, but trees with leaves/needles is a lot more difficult and may take a long time.
I agree that you should never model/add anything to a scene that will never be seen, but when you have to make aerial views of a landscape with buildings and trees you don't have any choice. What is so nice with hd_Instance is that you can use the same hi-poly trees even in the distance, so here's no need for using clip-mapped trees to save memory.
In hd_Instance you add one instance per point, one per polygon, a number per side or a number pr m. In addition you can control density and jitter with a setting. In addition to that you can control density and scaling with weight maps. And you can add many different layers of different instanced objects onto the same mesh, with full control of density, placement etc.
So in the case above, adding bottles wherever you want is no problem at all, and you can control color, scale, rotation etc in many different ways. You could easily place blue bottles in Europe generally, blue bottles with yellow caps in Sweden and so on. And you can animate them as well. Or connect them to particles, like in this little video clip at http://bknilssen.no/pano/eksosC2.MOV
Lots of options, and a lot of control. But it won't make any objects for you...

jaxtone
10-11-2009, 02:02 PM
Bjorn!
Was that video made with HD Instance 3? I thought it was a dynamic particle creation from within the native LW!

Well you seem to know a lot about HD Instance so I have to ask this:

If you have worked with both version 2 and 3, how much have the setup where you create your mass objects from points and background layers in modeler improved. Is it the same interface and work process we are talking about or what?

Iīve found an old tutorial connected to version 2 of HD Instance and it seemed to be kind of messy!


You can easily model grass without any plugins, but trees with leaves/needles is a lot more difficult and may take a long time.
I agree that you should never model/add anything to a scene that will never be seen, but when you have to make aerial views of a landscape with buildings and trees you don't have any choice. What is so nice with hd_Instance is that you can use the same hi-poly trees even in the distance, so here's no need for using clip-mapped trees to save memory.
In hd_Instance you add one instance per point, one per polygon, a number per side or a number pr m. In addition you can control density and jitter with a setting. In addition to that you can control density and scaling with weight maps. And you can add many different layers of different instanced objects onto the same mesh, with full control of density, placement etc.
So in the case above, adding bottles wherever you want is no problem at all, and you can control color, scale, rotation etc in many different ways. You could easily place blue bottles in Europe generally, blue bottles with yellow caps in Sweden and so on. And you can animate them as well. Or connect them to particles, like in this little video clip at http://bknilssen.no/pano/eksosC2.MOV
Lots of options, and a lot of control. But it won't make any objects for you...

Greenlaw
10-11-2009, 02:46 PM
When I have read some of the replies on this Lightwave Forum in another thread I understand it as Happy Digital will abandon LW so that is another reason why I ask.

I don't believe Graham has ever stated anything of the sort. Just because he wrote a plug-in for Max recently, a few people in these forums have taken it as a sign of the apocalypse.

FYI an update for HD Instance 2 was released fairly recently, and Graham has been responding in these forums lately. Just my opinion, but this says to me that Graham is still commited to the LW community.

As for using any of these tools to make cg grass, we often use Sasquatch for mid-ground to distant grass. It looks good for a credible generic grass, and it's easy to put wind effects on. However, it's difficult to get extreme closeup detail in it because the tool is not supposed to make 'real' grass--it's meant for simulating hair and fur fibers. Also, Sasquatch's small preview is not a problem if you place your surface testing camera close to the fibers.

We also use HD Instance with excellent results for close up to mid-ground grass. With HD Instance, you can make the instances look exactly like grass, since it can more or less instance anything you can build in Modeler. However, unlike Sasquatch, it's more difficult to get credible wind effects in wide shots with it. (I usually wind up cheating this as a 2D displacement in post.)

If you need a faster render with HD Instance, you can also try mapping real grass clumps to 2D cards with a clip map. You'll be very limited as far as lighting and wind effects go, but if you're clever, you can get decent results very quickly this way.

For fast renders, I've also used Pawel Olas's random cloner with carded grass clumps; along with his Point2Camera plug-in I've been able to get very credible results even when the camera is moving around a lot. This usually breaks if the camera is way overhead looking down, but even then I've gotten away with it with some tweaking.

BTW, Pawel makes a companion to Tree Designer called Grass Generator, which makes very credible cg grass clumps. I used this most recently in that Ninja Gaiden 2 Teaser (http://www.gametrailers.com/video/tgs-teaser-ninja-gaiden/24818?type=flv) trailer we made last year; this was combined with HD Instance.

If the grass looks a bit 'weedy', it's supposed to. I just wish we had more time to make it look a little better, but we had a very small crew and only has bout three or four weeks to do this job.

BTW, if you look closely in the opening shot of this trailer, the animated grass in the foreground is Sasquatch, set up by Ken Wilder, so you can actually get pretty close to it.

I guess if I'm making any kind of point here, all of the mentioned tools are valid for making good looking grass. You just have to decide when and where you can use them appropriately.

Greenlaw

prometheus
10-11-2009, 03:37 PM
I got to take a look at that radical3d interview, cant watch it on the machine Im sitting at right know.

I believe they evaluated vue before the production , but found it to slow
for producing the amount of renders they needed.

I wonder if it was solely the render speed that made them choose hd instance and lightwave, or if it was that and a combo of render node licenses
and the fact that you in the end ultimatly have a better control and intergration with animated animals inside of lightwave.

personally from what Ive seen,only from netclips, Im not that pleased at the level of the realism look from radical 3d, but then again itīs still pretty good for what
the show aimed for I guess.

No matter how you try to approach it in Lightwave, I donīt think you can
tweak the realism as fast and get it as good as in vue, that is with
lighting,shadow,atmosphere realism and vegetation.

It would probably take a lightwaver a lot more time to get setups similar to
vue, but on the other hand...the render speed would beat vueīs
quite a lot.

Itīs all in one package in vue, the trees are there from the start,easy to setup an tweak or change and just paint in and see direct interaction with
lights and atmosphere at once in previewer.

The workflow in lightwave will be different and not as easy to setup.

I would probably take a look at hd instance anyway before sumatra or veggipaint, the issue is mostly to get variance in trees and vegetation.
perhaps starting by create a library of trees, from either tree generator,x-frog, onyx tree, but that involves some tree creation time,or find stock models.

after a decent library of vegetation is done I guess one could start by building model cluster segments of 3-8 trees, but each cluster segment needs to have different variations. once you then have maybe 10-20 different clusters, it would be propiate to use those for instance cloning with hd instance..and maybe that would give very good randomized tree variations.

Michael

bjornkn
10-11-2009, 03:39 PM
Bjorn!
Was that video made with HD Instance 3? I thought it was a dynamic particle creation from within the native LW! Yes, the particles were made by native LW, as well as hypervoxel exhaust, and the greenhouse objects linked to some of the particles were generated by hd_Instance.


If you have worked with both version 2 and 3, how much have the setup where you create your mass objects from points and background layers in modeler improved. Is it the same interface and work process we are talking about or what?

Iīve found an old tutorial connected to version 2 of HD Instance and it seemed to be kind of messy!The most recent version is 2.0.8 AFAIK, so you must be thinking of 1.8 vs 2.0?
If I remember correctly the older version only had population by poly or point, which meant you had to subdivide your mesh a lot to get denser vegetation. Now you can put miliions of instances on one single poly. It doesn't give much of variation in density though, because a weight map on a single poly isn't much help ;)
Apart from that I believe animation capabilities were greatly improved in v2, but I haven't really used that much.
The GUI hasn't changed much, but I can't say that I find it messy. It's rather easy and intuitive IMO. There's certainly room for improvements though.

SplineGod
10-11-2009, 04:16 PM
Thank you for the tip and the attached link, Iīll check it up!

You are right when describing SAS. To me SAS is useless when trying to create a lawn that both looks ok at a distance as well as in a close up. Maybe this is general for most plugs of this kind but now I need something else that donīt force me to over-plan where or what the camera will shoot! Meaning that this could be done with good planning and different high and low res levels on the objects in the scene.

I also experience SAS interface as very limited. Too small and you need to tweak a lot when creating stuff in there. One example is when the object is large and SAS by default sets a minimum/maximum ratio for the lenght of the grass without giving me a choice directly to decide the range of length.



Yeah, I can play around with the percentage level but only in a framed ratio that SAS alreade have decided.

Another couple of things Ive found that help with sas is to make sure that the ground is textured to help blend the grass into it better.
I also will apply more then one instance of sas to the ground to break things up a bit so things dont look too uniform. I also agree with megalodon about spending some time tweaking. After awhile it does get easier.

Greenlaw
10-12-2009, 12:52 PM
What is so nice with hd_Instance is that you can use the same hi-poly trees even in the distance, so here's no need for using clip-mapped trees to save memory.

In general, this is absolutely true, but I occasionally run into a practical limit for HD Instance. In the same Ninja Gaiden trailer I referenced, you'll notice a lot of swords in the background. Originally I tried instancing the actual sword geometry, but HD instance completely bogged down because the geometry was too dense and there were too many textures in each type of sword. (I'm not 100% sure, but I think there might have been a dozen different sword types.) What I wound up doing was making clip mapped cards with pre-rendered sword images applied, and then instanced the cards. This layer took only a couple of minutes to render at HD instead of hours (if ever,) and it looked just as good as the full geometry version. However, for the few swords that came really close to the camera, I placed the original sword geometry into the scene of course (no instancing.)

Greenlaw

jaxtone
10-12-2009, 01:49 PM
Greenlaw! Thanks for sharing your experiences and skills. I really appreciate it! About Graham I hope youīre right!

SplineGod! Yeah I have tried that and it gives a better result just as you say! Thanks!


Another couple of things Ive found that help with sas is to make sure that the ground is textured to help blend the grass into it better. I also will apply more then one instance of sas to the ground to break things up a bit so things dont look too uniform. I also agree with megalodon about spending some time tweaking. After awhile it does get easier.

jaxtone
10-12-2009, 02:00 PM
Well I donīt know where the heck I did get the (3) from... :stumped:

So you are definitely right about the recent version! Sorry!


Yes, the particles were made by native LW, as well as hypervoxel exhaust, and the greenhouse objects linked to some of the particles were generated by hd_Instance. The most recent version is 2.0.8 AFAIK, so you must be thinking of 1.8 vs 2.0?

If I remember correctly the older version only had population by poly or point, which meant you had to subdivide your mesh a lot to get denser vegetation. Now you can put miliions of instances on one single poly. It doesn't give much of variation in density though, because a weight map on a single poly isn't much help ;)

Apart from that I believe animation capabilities were greatly improved in v2, but I haven't really used that much. The GUI hasn't changed much, but I can't say that I find it messy. It's rather easy and intuitive IMO. There's certainly room for improvements though.

jaxtone
10-12-2009, 02:30 PM
Hereīs a rough image of the RedNeckDelta! A mix between Saslite and separate objects! Not yet gamma or color adjusted!

Cageman
10-12-2009, 03:15 PM
I wonder if it was solely the render speed that made them choose hd instance and lightwave, or if it was that and a combo of render node licenses
and the fact that you in the end ultimatly have a better control and intergration with animated animals inside of lightwave.

Well... the video about them on HD-Instance site does have some pretty nice looking stuff, especially regarding the insane production. The avarge rendertime, or so they say, is about 15 minutes/frame in HD. For each episode they have to create 2-3 environments and since they don't know where the shooting will take place, they have to treat it as "shoot anywhere". I can't remember exactly, but they talk about somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes of full CG done for each episode and they generaly just have "a couple of weeks" to do one episode.

So, yeah... Vue is nice and all that, but you will not get things done that quickly with it. Production in a nuttshell; cut the corners!

robk
10-14-2009, 11:38 AM
Here is some stuff from a year or two ago we did with HD Instance.
Overall shot with some close-ups