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Rendering non-realtime photorealistic terrain

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Hi, I'm just curious, what kind of rendering approach do programs like Terragen and Bryce use for their terrain rendering? Is there any advantage in an approach like ray tracing or photon mapping, or do they use something simpler like scanline rendering with nice shaders? There doesn't seem to be much advangate in a ray tracing approach, except for the surface or water or maybe atmospheric/cloud effects. A hybrid approach maybe? Or what about REYES? Anybody know of any resources on this, I'm thinking of implementing something similar (just for fun)?

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Looks like an excellent book, the reviews on Amazon are great. So those are the kind of techniques that are used for terrain rendering?

I thought that maybe because the distances are so great raycasting might be too slow. Perhaps use a scanline renderer and then use the depth buffer to skip the ray forward.

Does anyone have resources which are more terrain specific? Maybe also topics such as how to generate terrain material, etc?

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Just wanted to let you know that that is a great book for rendering, but its very advanced. It does not really cover the basic but focuses on the more hardcore parts of raytracing. And you really need to know your math.

I personally find it really hard to follow, and have to read other sources as well, but than again my math and programing skills kind of suck.

I dont really know how terrain is rendered, but when you create it in 3d programs you often have a mixture of heavy shader work, bump mapping and normal mapping (save polygons). I dont think the way its rendered really counts as look as its a good render. But I might be wrong

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Quote:
Original post by esuvs
I thought that maybe because the distances are so great raycasting might be too slow.

Distances don't matter. Rays are cast algorithmically, not one meter at a time. The only thing that slows things down is scene complexity.

There's really nothing special about terrain rendering as it relates to non-realtime methods. In fact, the nature of terrain makes it particularly easy to render photorealistically using bog-standard techniques. As with most rendering tasks, it is the art rather than the technology that matters most for realism.

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Ok, thanks for the input guys. Basially I'm quite experienced with realtime graphics and wanted to now explore the non-realtime world with raytracing, photon mapping, etc. Rather than making more pictures of glass spheres (the standard raytracing thing) I thought maybe I could apply it to terrain rendering as I haven't seen many free, photorealistic, terrain renderers.

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