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Thread: Wda clouds and vdb

  1. #1
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Wda clouds and vdb

    Tried the WDA free cloud assets again, previously Iveīt tried it with lightwave ..but wasnīt satisfied with the speed for the openGL orbiting and neither the render GI and scattering and indirect lighting bounces.

    So Now I tested these wda free samples (Quarter resolution sample) in another software..which recently got vdb import..which I installed today, and it was really fantasticly fast to orbit around the vdb file ..unlike lighwave that is very slow for that, a huge difference..and not only that..the openGL visualisation isnīt ticks, itīs nicely voxel sliced and you can also control density in the openGL.

    Also when rendering I can control bounces of the GI much easier and giving better and faster results.
    Took me perhaps some 2 hours to mess around with the nodal shading, I am not there to understand the exact settings for the shader, which I just set up by my self, so perhaps it can be even better..but I do not think I got this result
    with Lightwave despite tweaking several days with it.

    For this..some careful tweakings for the density with curves and some tricks with anisotrophy, (asymmetry in lightwave)
    And the renders is interactive renderign with GPU ..much faster to iterate than what I could get with Lightwave and especially in consideration with the GI on the clouds.

    To conclude, GPU rendering please and improve the openGL presentation and performance for VDB in lightwave ..in the future please, while I mess around with another tool.

    PS..also tried embergen explosion samples, same there..much easier to shade it realisticly, and faster to orbit around and better OpenGL presentation.







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  2. #2
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Just checked again with Lightwave..

    The same wdas cloud at quarter resolution..and trying to orbit it with opengl display and ticks to show the volume..itīs almost impossible..it halts enormously, while in the other program..it orbits pretty much in realtime.
    We can not have it like this in lightwave.

  3. #3
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    Okay, just for clarity's sake; the two renders in your initial post are from Blender, right?

    And then you checked the same cloud in Lightwave, but couldn't orbit it, etc.... was there supposed to be a render included with your second post for comparison?

    Also, just for general knowledge, what video card are you using and have you updated your drivers?

    I know that some people have had slowdowns even in normal VPR and updated their drivers, and BAM... problem fixed.

    Also, some optimizations seem like they are nvidia-focused; I'm not sure that will apply here (or the driver update will either, for that matter) but it's just good to have the information for comparison.

  4. #4
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPSchmidt View Post
    Okay, just for clarity's sake; the two renders in your initial post are from Blender, right?

    And then you checked the same cloud in Lightwave, but couldn't orbit it, etc.... was there supposed to be a render included with your second post for comparison?

    Also, just for general knowledge, what video card are you using and have you updated your drivers?

    I know that some people have had slowdowns even in normal VPR and updated their drivers, and BAM... problem fixed.

    Also, some optimizations seem like they are nvidia-focused; I'm not sure that will apply here (or the driver update will either, for that matter) but it's just good to have the information for comparison.
    yes you are correct about software, the performance for both openGL display, and orbiting speed is staggering in difference, I can hardly orbit around this vdb file in Lightwave, while in the other it goes in realtime, same vdb file..but even better display.

    Nvidia gtx 1080 latest drivers..and this is for the openGL, not the VPR..vpr is fast..if you turn off GI, it is the tick display in the openGL for the scattering density preview channel lightwave that is slow..always has been..I think itīs two different ways of displaying the volume, in Lightwave it is of no use other than to check the main density so that it is ok, then turn it off and just use the cube preview.

    And yes..both renders there are B renders, not lightwave..so not to compare.
    Ivé made some of those in some other threads here, donīt have time to locate and publish, but I think B is looking much better, the volume bounce scatterign reacts in some milliseconds, while waiting for Lightwave GI to iterate in vpr is very slow with the indirect sampling needed, and even so..the scattering isnīt as pronounced and nice as in B.

    Further more, I get clean noise and firefree renders of the volume, which is more than I can say for the Lightwave volume, and you have to wait minutes for it to solve any issues if ever.


    You could try for yourself, if you can orbit with viewport controls around this quarter resolution of the wda cloud in realtime.. in openGL that is, then there is most likely something wrong in my lightwave settings or drivers..(though odd that it works fine in B)
    when testing that..you should check preview of the scattering channel, and also of course..make sure to load the vdb file just there, the display of it may take a little time first.

    A different story if you just view it as a box opengl display..without that scattering preview active...but whats the point with that.

    So no...hardly the drivers, but will check the releases again.

    As for the B renders, still has a long way to go to get where it should be, not anywhere near a hyperion render for instance, but I think it was a bit easier to get a simulated almost powder effect..though a bit too cartoony..and it needs to be much more softer while still deeper in scattering.

    The thing is also, with the GPU...I can tweak this with full GI and bounces, it takes sort of forever in comparison when I use MY cpu.
    Of course..if you have the money and are about to invest..in a new very cpu boosted machine, that difference may be reduced drasticly..but hard to tell cause who knows how much gpu power that system has and how that would compare if using software B. in GPU mode VS cpu Mode.

    Next up is Houdini CloudfX exports to B, and also some export from Lightwave gas solver to B, embergen samples of explosion I have already tried, and itīs very nicely shaded..I had issues with that In lightwave, so here it works much easier and nicer.

    Embergen trial with full exports of my own tests will be around the next week I think, for testing in both Lightwave and B.

  5. #5
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    This is what to aim for., the Disney hyperion render, quite a difference...
    (mine is using fake illumination with emission, not the proper way really...tot flat and it will not look natural when changing the light direction)


  6. #6
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    Finally I think I have found a method that seems to work nicely when it comes to scattering in the clouds, I can still not compare it to any hyperion or arnold renderer, but I just started to get it somewhat decent without faking it with emission as I have done before in previous post here on this thread.

    I would also have to change lighting angle/direction to match that..but for this test I wanted more backlit scattering effect.
    But finally great to have setup that works even if I change light direction, which doesnīt work properly with the fake emission setups previously.
    I used the quarter resolution wda sample for this, so that is only 64 mb or so, and I also would need to adress some smoothing softness of the thinner edge parts..which in the hyperion renders are soft and smooth and in my renders a bit thick and blobby.


    I noticed that when turning off cast shadows within the light, the cloud shading started to show a little powder scattering effect, but that will not work for realistic lighting since it excludes any directional light and any internal scattering, it just gives some shadows on the outside based on the volume and the lights.

    So with that in mind I started to wrestle with some of the light paths nodes in blender to try and avoid a full shadow strength that would destroy that volume shadow effect when you turn off shadows(think shadow intensity in lightwaves primitive volume and how that with low settings can help bring forth a volume ..which otherwise is sort of taking on too much strength)

    So I then set up two volume scatter nodes and mixed, some other nodes as well to balance all this up, the scatter nodes are the older scatter nodes and not prinicpled volume, there is a difference there, where the principled node has density channel built in, while the older ones needs to have an attribute density node fed in to the density of that scatter node.

    As seen in the images, two main renders with two different anisotrophy settings for the first scatter node, that is 0,1 and 0,5..that is the only difference in the settings of the volume, the other images is then just post processed a bit in krita (I could use tonemapping curves directly in blender though.

    The lower anisotrophy brings out more detail as the light isnīt scattered so far..I think

    a lot of volume bounces 50 bounces and additional increasement in some of the other bounce settings for the rendering, thought it rendered decently well anyway for 100 samples.
    Only screenshots directly from the interactive cycles renderer.

    I have tried a lot with Lightwave to get to this point, but the nature of GI bounces and the volumetrics and render speed makes it very hard to get there. (octane not refered to at all here)
    So for me it finally may come together using blender for this kind of stuff.
    GPU mode for the rendering, otherwise it would be very slow to render.

    Anisotrophy 0.1 no post process..

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    Anisotrophy 0.1 post process in krita..

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    Anisotrophy 0.5 no post process..

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    Anisotrophy 0.5 post process in krita..

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  7. #7
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    And changed lighting direction, so itīs a bit more from the sidefront instead of backlit.. and a few additional changes.
    Some quality issues showed up, I may have changed some curve or contrast to strong, will have to check on that later.





    And a little post process with local contrast filter in krita..


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  8. #8

    hi, so all of these were rendered in Blender, or LightWave ?
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by erikals View Post
    hi, so all of these were rendered in Blender, or LightWave ?
    All images by me with blender cycles viewport interactive renders, except for the one with the really blue sky, which is a hyperion render I think, and that is the best one in terms of yielding that powder effect.
    But I am constantly finding out how to mess with the blender nodes now to get almost what I want, almost, that powder effect is still tricky.

    Why I havenīt been able to acheive similar in lightwave for the latest year or two I have had access to vdb and itīs volume engine, and GI..that is something I need to analyze, and perhaps talk about somewhere ..someday, while I actually only today started to work on scattering control for the clouds, previously only fake emission, but now a fully working scattering model that works when I change light direction, so shadows behave properly..I think.

    more to come perhaps, I will now start to try my own fluid sims, or houdini cloudfx made structures, perhaps also even trying out the gas solver ..cause I know how to push some of the gas in there with particles as forces..in a way that you actually canīt do in blender..so I will mess with that also, but the rendering will probably take place in blender.

    Some other factors to count in, I need the skytexture to follow the sunlight properly, there are some addons for that sunlight in blender that I need to install, I think they are free though.
    Octaneīs sky is the better one, though I am not that motivated to get it unless absolutely in need of it to overcome some of those issues.

    The GI indirect sampling and the time it takes on volumetrics with the system Ivé got, doesnīt make it feasable to render in Lightwave when I can use a GPU, and there lies the power of a normal system with a lot of gpuīs, I get feedback artistic control in viewports, which is necessary to tweak the scattering in a decent time.

    So the latest images are using a true scattering model with the standard scatter nodes..not principled volume, while the first ones some days ago looks worse and they were rendered with principled volume ..which doesnīt scatter nicely, and I used emission shading to boost some things up, but that is not the way to do it..so finally I worked something else out.

    Think of almost every lightwave primitive volume content for clouds, it has emission on clouds, itīs not the proper way.
    clouds scatter light mostly and or absorb, as for these images, I used around 50 volume bounces, and some others that are important, that is what is great with the volume bounce in blender, it just works right out of the bat with decent speed thanks to the gpu.

    while testing I forgot to adjust step size properly for the last images, thus there are a sligthly sharp artifact shading on the clouds.

    Currently the principled volume nodes in blender, is best for fire and smoke with itīs build in blackbody, and intensity for that and all other channels for temperature etc, but for clouds..go for scattering nodes, but you would need additionally attribute node with a density set, and feed that to the scatter density input, or you will get BLOCKS.

    I wonder if the blender team could write a cloud principle shader, so we do not have to do all this nodal connection stuff, or Perhaps I could do one of my own but it would be great if it could acount for all kinds of scattering
    behavior within a cloud.

  10. #10

    LightWave indeed needs a speedup, perhaps by GPU.

    that said i don't thing either of the Cloud renders look striking, LightWave (previous tests) nor Blender.


    but got lots of other projects / tests now unfortunately.


    (p.s. Do try the new ToneMapping feature, it should give slightly nicer cloud renders)
    Last edited by erikals; 05-13-2020 at 03:17 PM.
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  11. #11
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erikals View Post
    LightWave indeed needs a speedup, perhaps by GPU.

    that said i don't thing either of the Cloud renders look striking, LightWave (previous tests) nor Blender.


    but got lots of other projects / tests now unfortunately.


    (p.s. Do try the new ToneMapping feature, it should give slightly nicer cloud renders)
    Iīll gladely take your input on what you think isnīt right with the cloud imagery if you can point it out.


    also..itīs easy to swap out vdb files, it will still maintain the shading volume you previously set it up with, hereīs a little fluid evolution made in blender ( see image below) I tested over a year ago, but it needs higher res and more edge whisps.

    But in principle same method of using fractal textured based density for a single cloud plane and let it billow up so to speak, but based on a cloud fractal density map, just as you can do with turbulenceFD in lightwave...but way faster to shade in blender, unless using octane for lightwave.

    Slightly noisy ..but more samples here and there or noise filtering and final render will take care of that.

    As for tonemapping in lightwave, not likely to try that out for quite a while...several months, tonemapping is not where you get the clouds to get to another level, it just adresses the overall color contrast mostly.
    That I already do with blender with curves and filmic and contrase and exposure.


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  12. #12

    some notes >



    - - - Updated - - -


    hard to pin down, but i'll give both LightWave and Blender a "so-so" vote. Maybe B with a slight upper hand in quality.
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  13. #13
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erikals View Post
    some notes >



    - - - Updated - - -


    hard to pin down, but i'll give both LightWave and Blender a "so-so" vote. Maybe B with a slight upper hand in quality.
    Thanks erikals..


    However..There is no Lightwave render in this whole thread...so do you refer to something else? so what do you compare with to give a blender VS lightwave vote?

    The cyan color, yes..I was aware of that, should be easy to adress later.

    As for no blue, check the other backlit, they have more blue, and check the hyperion render, almost no blue...at least not in the areas you pointed out in my image, there are conditions when blue isnīt really scattered or absorbed much either in real life.

    Do not follow you right now on the flat transitions, or the render error..with question mark.

    will study that though.

  14. #14

    so what do you compare with to give a blender VS LightWave vote?
    sorry to confuse, like stated, based on earlier test renders of LW clouds / tweaks.

    yeah, very hard to explain in words.

    Do not follow you right now on the flat transitions, or the render error..with question mark.
    area looks a bit "off" compared to the above part. (perhaps)
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  15. #15
    RETROGRADER prometheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erikals View Post

    sorry to confuse, like stated, based on earlier test renders of lw (perhaps)
    honestly..from my perspective...the scattering doesnt come close in lightwave..not in my previous lw renders..and i havent seen any others either with any better scattering ..done with lightwave.

    will have to take a look at how the new GI in lw 2020 handles it..but prio now is to mess around with B...and houdini and maybe embergen..before testing lightwave 2020.

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