View Full Version : Lightwave + Terrain Generator Question

09-12-2004, 02:27 PM
I'm planning on purchasing either Bryce 5 or Vue 4, but I don't know how they work with Lightwave. Does anybody here know which would be a smarter purchase for Lightwave user like us?

Considering that since DAZ took over Bryce and selling it for a super low price of $89.99 and 3D World Mag has included a full version of Vue 3, with upgrade price of $29.99.

Any help would be much appriciated. :)

09-12-2004, 03:20 PM
I haven't gotten into it too deeply yet, but I'm very happy with my first attempts of importing landscapes from Vue 4. It seems to only import the terrain and leave off any modified texturing. It just applies a sort of generic green/stone look depending on the angle of the polygons and elevation. Not a lot of testing done though on my part so maybe there is a work around.

09-12-2004, 09:57 PM
if you're committed to purchasing a terrain generator/editor, take a look at this:

Leveller (http://www.daylongraphics.com/products/leveller/)

no texturing, no radiosity, no extra bells, just heightfield editing, with import/export support for a TON of file formats.

for free, there are also a lot of options like terragen. google is your friend here :D

09-12-2004, 11:20 PM

leveller looks like an awesome program...though i might have to brush up on my texturing skills (which i don't have.)

Though I would think vue should have more support for lightwave since the company has also done Ozone for LW. But that leveller sure looks sweet...

09-13-2004, 12:05 AM
Vue should beable to handle lightwave object easier than Bryce. Vue can import LW Objects not sure about scenes I think its objects only. Vue can export terrains to LW. If you want to export complete scenes to LW then you need Vue Pro.
Bryce can import Lightwave 5 objects, I don't recall if the textures worked or not I don't think so. You can export terrains and symmetrical lattices and some imported objects to LW. Currently there is no way to export a complete scene to LW.
Vue 5 is due to come out to the market. Soon Bryce upgrade should be available, Daz wanted a verion out this fall and a full upgrade next year. People are entering their wish list for Bryce on DAZ's web forum. Vue 5 looks very promising. They plan on adding HDRI, Radiosity and more. With the pro version to follow later.

09-13-2004, 05:11 AM
Make sure to check out Terragen, it's free.

09-14-2004, 02:36 AM
Make sure to check out Terragen, it's free.
And it has a dedicated Lightwave exporter: no fussing around with .obj files :)

Definitely keep an eye on this product: the next version looks like it`s really going places.


09-14-2004, 06:37 AM
it has a dedicated Lightwave exporter

true on the face of it, but sadly the exporter is limited to terrains of 256x256 size. depending on your needs, alot of detail will get lost.

i'll second the terragen is a sweet little app thoughts. unfortunately, heightfield editing is currently not one of its strengths. yeah, it can generate those random (kinda sometimes fake lookin) fractal heightfields, but (again depending on your needs wickster) if you need to get dirty and edit and model a heightfield, terragen won't help you. leveller specializes in just that.

the next version of terragen should play very nicely w/lw as the author worked for a lw house in l.a. for awhile.

09-14-2004, 04:09 PM
I checked out Terragen and thought it was promising. I am even thinking of sinking the 100 bucks for the registered version. I was wondering if some peeps have used it to import models into lightwave for rendering - what is the best way to import the mesh and reduce the poly count to a reasonable level without the hassle of 3point polys and the smoothing errors you get from them. I was thinking htat maybe a better approach would be to have a meshed sub-patch in lightwave and import the rgb file from terragen instead of the actual mesh - and use that as a displacement map? Any suggestions?


09-14-2004, 07:38 PM
...the hassle of 3point polys and the smoothing errors you get from them.

Say what?

...a better approach would be to have a meshed sub-patch in lightwave...


The max mesh size appears to be 129032 polygons, not exactly heavy.

Here is a quick screenshot from modeler. not bad for something you can get for free.

09-14-2004, 08:51 PM
Don't goof with bryce.
It's more 3d app than "landscape generator"

VistaPro seems better than bryce. And cheaper. Can Xport too.

But it's not complete.
Excellent to fool with now, but just wait 'til 1.0... ROCKIN'!!! (pun intended)

Vue's newest version thinks it's a full-featured 3d application. It's not. And
shouldn't be. I THOUGHT they were specializing in landscape/terrain.
Not anymore.

World Construction Set- it's so cool with all it's ecosystem settings,
and I feel it's top on 3d terrain + LW. The plants/trees are 2d, but after customizing, they look suweet. But it's too much $$$$, in my opinion.

I know spending enuff time with LW, I can create better landscape than
these apps. But takes more time. Not spoon-fed, like fore-mentioned.

For the best interaction, and minimal export/compatibility-hassle, I feel like
LW + HD instance + Xfrog plant libraries = cheaper & more flexibility.


09-15-2004, 12:41 PM
Well, I've used Bryce 5 for over a year now. What Bryce does well is 2d rendering. You know, set up the objects and adjust lighting and sky and send to the render engine for print purposes. And I dont care what others are saying right now, but Bryce skys blow SKY TRACER out of the water. But, you can't pull Bryce sky planes or water planes into LW. Bryce can pull LW5 Objects into its engine. Now, you can make skies and water images in Bryce, render down to a 2d image, save the file as your favorite image type and use it as a backdrop in LW. Its not as dynamic as a 3d wrap around but depending on your needs will fool the eye everytime. For less than $100 its worth a try anyway.

Terragen is a program i've had for about a week. If the new version due out next year delivers what is says, then Terragen will be a good tool to have. While the export to LW is limited right now to 255x255 the plan is to boost that up. Terragen is fun though. If you like making landscapes and such you will have a good time with it. The terrains you export to LW are not as detailed as in Terragen but can ve very usefull in the right job or project. And the skys are fun to make and give great realism. Again, as in Bryce you can work up your skies in Terragen, save them down as an image file and use them as great backdrops in LW.

All we have to do as LW users is fool the eye. How we do that is up to us. Happy creating!
I have a couple bryce files on my website. www.provinestudios.com

09-15-2004, 07:08 PM
:eek: gackt! too much choices, i didn't know there that many options for generating terrain. well better get downloading, i guess i'll start with the free one first. Thanks!

World Construction Set- it's so cool with all it's ecosystem settings,
and I feel it's top on 3d terrain + LW. The plants/trees are 2d, but after customizing, they look suweet. But it's too much $$$$, in my opinion.

yeah...i thought World Construction Set would be the best choice but looking at the price, i quickly dropped it from my list. I'll Try out Terragen and see where i go from there.

I know spending enuff time with LW, I can create better landscape than
these apps. But takes more time. Not spoon-fed, like fore-mentioned.

i wish i had time to play around LW to create my own landscape but i just don't. :(

Thanks again all! again, Our LW Community ROCKS!!!

09-15-2004, 07:25 PM
Hey Wickster, this is another option - I found this tutorial on the LWgroup and it is pretty involved. The nice thing about it is that the "essential" toolset the author has a link to is a collection of free plug-ins / programs that they use during the tutorial. Of special interest is the "free" realtime heightmap editor for BattleField 1942. The thing that makes it intersting is that since it is meant to mod a first person shooter, you get to roam around your landscape while you edit it. Maybe it will help.



Alex Rooth
09-16-2004, 02:28 AM
I recently downloaded Terragen and really like it. I think the render quality is superior to Bryce and Vue - though I am basing this on what I see on the respective company's sites. (Terragen render quality is illustrated well on that Mars video on the Terragen site.) For rendering backdrops that are composited with LW, Terragen could be pretty good, apart from the limitations such as no trees or foliage.

On the down side, terrains that I have exported from Terragen to LW just don't look right, maybe as someone said, because of lack of detail. They might be okay as distant objects though.

Best regards


09-16-2004, 04:12 AM
If memory serves, Matt Fairclough, programmer of Terragen, did work for a time at Digital Domain, and The Time Machine has some fx shots done with a special version of Terragen.
Iīm eagerly awaiting the newer version, which will overcome some of its shortcomings.


09-16-2004, 06:03 AM
Hi, just found this thread, and I'm looking for similar things myself...

Some personal thoughts.

Vue - I bought V3 and could not get on with it, it had a really wierd interface, and I found it almost impossible to use. Results can be good though.

Terragen - best skies bar none. Strong on ease of use, though textures are a bit tricky. Animation is a bit messy, and relies on 3rd party plugins. The preview shots of the advanced version look utterly awesome. free to try.

Bryce. Never used it, but I've never seen a Bryce image I like. And they all look like bryce images.

Vistapro. Very old now, but still very easy to use. It is quite exceptional in the ease of creating smooth effective animation paths. VERY Fast. Texturing is fiddly and rarely looks good. I still have a soft spot for this program, and it looks like it's under development again. V5 is promised soon, and I'll very probably get it.

Mojoworld. (pandromeda) I've just started experimenting with this - the levels of detail are superb, you buld an entire world in a file of a few hundred k! And that has detail right down to the gravel level (!). It appears to be much better at science fiction worlds than realistic scenes, but it is very easy to get dramatic views. Marvelous sense of scale. Render times are painful.

Lightwave! Don't forget there are (free) plugins to get elevation maps into ligtwave - though lack of fine detail in the models really restricts what LW can do with it, (note that dedicated landscape renderers, even VP, will generally add fine scale fractal geometry to roughen up surfaces realistically).

See for Demscape:
By Marvin Landis.


09-16-2004, 07:22 PM
I downloaded Terragen but I haven't installed it yet probably later on, before the weekend so I'll have a whole lot of time playing with it. At the same time I'm gonna try and create my own terrain with Lightwave...well do my best at least...following a tutorial ofcourse.

Thanks for all the input!!!

09-16-2004, 10:01 PM
I love this topic! And it's great to hear feedback from others. I agree, starbase.
Bryce looks "bryce". Vue's interface is not intuitive.

Other links:
The most fun I've had with a 3rd party! Great for landscape. Buy this... U won't be sorry!

Nice 3d tree collections, but at a price.

Tree designer, great application.

You can buy Xfrog tree collections and they import straight into LW!
No froggy needed. Unless you want them to bend with the wind or grow
during animation.

Eki's Sea gen, sky gen, gin gen, all worth the $$$.
Creates things through LW's own tools.

2d tree maps. Slap 'em on a plane, and you be doopin' the great outdoors.

Anyone elso got links?

How about secret techniques?

I would spend lots of time on creating 3d landscapes and my brother
told me "just buy a camera"... :rolleyes:

09-20-2004, 06:47 AM
OK, with rather good timing, the UK edition of PC Format magazine has version 3.1 of Vue D'Esprit on the cover disk.

It's a limited edition that will only handle renders up to 1024x768, but you won't even need that for animation work...

The bad news looking at the web site is that V5 is due out pretty soon, but this should be good enough to get the feel of the thing, and see if you like their way of working...

There's a load of info on what it can do on the Vue website at:



09-21-2004, 02:54 PM
Just wanted to pop in to draw more attention to Bryce. :)

As was mentioned, DAZ did buy Bryce a bit back. There is much to do on Bryce, but we are cranking away on it. I would encourage that you drop by the DAZ forums and express your opinion. We have a thread that is a wishlist. We are devoted to improving and expanding Bryce's capabilities, but we need high-end users such as yourselves to give feedback as to what you are looking for.



09-21-2004, 07:16 PM
any preview list of future features for us? please!!! i just hope it integrates well with LW, say all textures and stuff.

09-22-2004, 07:47 AM
I'd have to put my vote in for terragen. The only problem is that while it exports nice looking objects, the LWO it exports apparently bears no resembalance to what I started with (at least for me). odd... So I'm giving it a try for compositing. I output the heightmap, and then in LW apply it as a displacement map to a 25x25 poly subpatch square. It's not nearly as detailed and it took a lot of work to get it all lined up, but I think I got it close enough for the compositing I want to do...

09-22-2004, 08:13 AM
There are many things we would love to put into Bryce 5.5, but we only acquired it months ago, so it will take time. :)

I think they announced on some forum over there what kinds of feature updates will be in 5.5 this fall. Not too sure. I will try to find the link.

09-22-2004, 11:29 AM
Don't take this the wrong way, but can Bryce (in its current incarnation) do anything Lightwave can't???


09-22-2004, 11:40 AM
LOL, it's a fair question.

I'm no Bryce expert, so I can only help a little. It depends on how fast you want to do things. You can quickly create a terrain, then go in and paint changes to the elevation map. You can do this in LW, but you have to jump around.

They have a lot of texture presets that are of some value when creating terrain. Don't know how these compare to LW, though. I don't know how to use them beyond a beginner's ability. I'm a LW user and enjoy the surfacing abilities quite a bit in LW.

Bryce has a tree creator. However, I don't think you can export those trees to LW. Maybe someone with more knowledge of Bryce would know for sure.

I guess I could turn the question around a bit and ask if any terrain programs can do anything that LW can't? I would wager the answer is no, none of them can do much more than LW can. The difference is in how quickly things can be accomplished with reasonable results.

Sorry I'm not much more help. I'm not much of a Bryce expert.

09-22-2004, 11:48 AM
Don't take this the wrong way, but can Bryce (in its current incarnation) do anything Lightwave can't???

I would say you can pretty much do anything in Lightwave that you can in Bryce, but not anywhere near as quick. LightWave environmental capabilities (cough*SKYTRACER*cough) reeeeaaaaly suck. I've never been able to get more than marginally acceptable results from Skytracer. The main problem being it's POS interface. How the hell am I supposed to know what all those numbers mean? I start tweaking cloud settings and I can't tell a difference in the **** renders.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Bryce is all that, it's easy to spot a Bryce image a million miles away, but at least you can change sky colors, cloud types, haze color, etc... in about 5 seconds.

Believe it or not, when I first got Inspire 3d, my intent was to use it for modelling objects for import into Bryce.

09-22-2004, 03:05 PM
I'd say Matt is pretty much spot on the money.

Skytracer is very weak, (and catastrophicly slow for what it acheives, especially at high res).

Also about Bryce images being too distinctive, (I am trying to chase away visions of pervasive marble textures, and flat fractal noise over colour saturated skies).

But even so there are plenty of packages that are better at small aspects -

Terragen skies are the best I know of, (at any render time, or price).

Poser is pretty good at human shapes, (hence its popularity with adolescent amateur pornographers).

Even ancient clunky Vistapro is superb at building paths through landscapes.

And Mojoworld will pack an entire planet, (albeit a wierd one), packed with details at scales from continent to gravel, onto a floppy disk!

By adding fractal displacements, Terragen and Vistapro both manage to handle what is effectivley polygon counts in the tens of millions, something LW will barf at. And in the case of Mojowold it's more like billions.

LW's strengths are the breadth of things it will handle, the level of control and quality of the output.

But this does leave plenty of room for other tools, if they have something a little special to offer.

And because these other tools don't do everything, I feel it is important that they either settle for a small amateur muck about audience and price point, or they have practical import / export features, so they can effectively combine with other tools.


09-22-2004, 06:43 PM
I love Bryce, it was the first 3D program I bought and I still use it today.

There's many areas in Bryce that could be improved...like skies, vegetation etc.

But what I would like to see is bryce become more Lightwave friendly..such as:

Build your scene in bryce, click a button and everything(terrains, textures, skies etc.) gets imported into Layout for final render or Modeler for more editing. Just like how Modeler and Layout work now.

The ability to create lightwave textures with bryce's own texture editor.

Basically, I want Bryce to become Lightwave's default atmosphere/landscape plugin :p