April 6, 2016
Rendering animations in Blender can be time consuming. Depending on the quality and image size, one frame can take 1 to 3 minutes (or longer!) Since a second of video is 24 frames, it can take hours or days to render a movie of any interesting length.
So I am studying the use of more realtime solutions that trade some quality for speed. In particular, I have explored Unity and Unreal game engines. At the present time, the consensus seems to favor Unreal for graphical quality so that is what I am concentrating on at the moment.
I have spent the last few weeks developing a workflow for translating my model to Unreal (a.k.a. UE4). So far, I have created a terrain model by making a height map from my Blender mesh and worked out the techniques for porting assets (objects and textures) to work with UE4 materials. Some additional details that have been worked include the lighting, animating a camera, and rendering an image sequence that can be turned into a video.
The video above is a first test render of the Veramendi buildings on the un-textured terrain.
March 31, 2015
This month I began an investigation of some new tools for my project: Unity 5 and Allegorithmic Substance. Recently, both products were released with new features and offered at very attractive rates for independent developers/artists. Unity 5 will allow me to produce real-time renders for either video or interactive displays. It has global illumination, realistic animated water effects, foliage and physically based shaders (PBR). Allegorithmic Substance products can produce highly realistic PBR materials based on photos and procedural techniques.
Thus far, I have created a terrain in Unity by applying a height map that was generated from my Blender model. I applied some preliminary textures that outline the main terrain types, roads, acequias, fields and river. I added the San Antonio River object. I imported the buildings in my model to Unity (minus the materials/textures that were created for Blender rendering).
Currently, I am learning Substance Designer so that I can create new realistic materials for the Unity model.
A mask that will be used to create a rubble wall with Substance Designer
September 17, 2010
Today, I did a quick port of a portion of the model into the Unity Game Engine. This was a learning exercise to understand the complete flow and to see what changes in the model/materials I would need to make in order to have a polished visualization. The two big items are 1. to account for the fact that the renderer does not deal with two sided meshes and that the complex textures that I have been using need to be baked into simpler UV mapped images. I did not explore baking of shadows or normals which would be necessary for a quality result.
Here is the link to the web app of this first attempt: http://home.comcast.net/~boddie/SFWeb.html
Use the mouse to look around and the arrow keys (or WASD) to move.