Terragen 3 features realistic sunlight(s), local, and spot light sources that can illuminate anything, ray-traced soft shadows, global illumination that enables full lighting interaction between surfaces, atmospheres and clouds, and ambient occlusion options. The quality of global illumination or ambient occlusion can be adjusted to find the right trade-off between render times and lighting quality. Our goal is to give you the right balance of lighting as quickly as possible, and then give you controls to tweak individual lighting contributions to perfect your art.
HDR environments rendered by Terragen 3 can be used as image-based light sources and reflection environments in other renderers. Terragen 3's HDR sun and skylight system is both inspired by nature and sensitive to the needs of visual effects in practice. The sun is as bright as the sun - much better than in HDR photography - and you can control its size without affecting its total contribution to the scene in order to get the best quality results in the destination renderer.
"Terragen has been giving me incredible skies and environments for many years now," says Rob Nederhorst, VFX Supervisor at Radium / ReelFX Creative Studios. "The team has taken an exponential leap in terms of photographic reality. I have done several projects with Terragen where it has generated lighting and reflection HDRIs and those became the only light source in the 3D renders."
Rob Nederhorst has used Terragen on commercial projects at Digital Domain, Sway Studio and Speedshape/LA, including the Djarum Mezzo cigarette spots "Race" and "Leap" which were nominated for a Visual Effects Society VES Award for outstanding compositing. You can see a visual effects breakdown video here.
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Going into TRON:Legacy I had experience supervising shows requiring a lot of atmospheric work so I wasn't particularly concerned about that aspect. The deeper we got into the show however the more and more demanding the work became. Tron:Legacy was a show on a different level, and it required solutions and results both artistically and technically on a different level. Terragen delivered! With it artists filled the "grid" with heavily art directed and detailed cloudscapes. And you couldn't rely on any "tricks" because this was a stereo show that demanded a completely immersive experience.
I think its would be a crime to only mention the software and not the designer and programmer behind it, Matt Fairclough provided to us unbelieveable support, custom coding, retooling, and improving aspects to the software allowing the art direction that was needed. I will never hesitate to recommend Matt and his software to anyone needing "world building". I dare you to try it, you will not be disappointed!
Chris Harvey, VFX Supervisor - Prime Focus
Have your questions answered by the Planetside team and other Terragen users in our online forums. Planetside Forums