View Full Version : Is there a need for a plugin that does terrain.

10 October 2005, 02:57 PM
Hi All

During the course of working on our main project we have developed a set of plugins, one of them being a plugin for 3ds Max to play with DEM's and other related bits. We may end up making it a commercially available plugin if there is any interest in it.

To model any point on the earth its just a case of putting in the Longitude and Latitude, you can freely animate everything and move around anywhere without worrying about joining lots of DEM files together etc. From Max startup to starting to render was 10mins so for anyone who has played with DEM's before will appreciate how easy this plugin makes life for the terrain modeller :) So if you have a spare few minutes please check out the videos and let us know your thoughts. The first is 20MB the other is 2MB and require the Divx codec. I apologise for the lack of artistic skills in the videos, Iam just a programmer so there is no fancy camera work, materials or rendering techniques.

Fly Around the Med (
Quick Zoom (

The plugin can render down to 30m resolution but we could expand the database to use whatever date is available. The dem files are either automatically downloaded from the net or loaded as needed from a cache. The terrain can either be rendered in user defined colors for height or use real color from satellite images, also adjusting the colors for season as can be seen in the videos below. Any missing data in the Dem files is automatically plugged if desired.


Grab from first video.

11 November 2005, 03:08 AM
Wow. Verry nice plugin. Do you have any other screenies? (on 56k atm :( )

11 November 2005, 05:21 AM
obviously the plugin would cost money, but how much to DEM's cost? Would they be included in the price of the plugin? I think the fact that you can get DEM's for all sorts of real terrain on earth, it'd be cool to not have to model out an entire valley where a city is or something... or to establish an existing place it's cool. Otherwise, we have plugins like dreamscape to create terrain, but if your plugin can create terrain that doesn't exist that'd be somewhat needed / really cool to have. I wouldn't say it's a necessity, but making it available i'm sure there would be interest in it

11 November 2005, 12:06 PM
If I'm not mistaken global DEM files are public domain, just as NASA's satellite images.

11 November 2005, 07:57 PM
Most DEM files are free and public. for like REALLY hires ones or custom some sites sell them and vary in price. I saw one site with Mount Baker for free then another with a slightly better shot wanting $45.00 for it. So it all really depends where you look and what you need/want.

12 December 2005, 06:22 PM
This is a really nice idea, however, it is already possible to import terrains inot Max using free software available on the net. Using a combination of terragen, the firmament plugin for it, or world machine or even 3DEM it is possible to create most terrains and then import them in.

- Rich

02 February 2006, 11:58 PM
Hi Rich

Yeah I realise there are ways to export DEM files, but this makes it a LOT easier, you dont have to worry about joing anything or matching colour data to the dem its all done automatically, ie to do the fly around the med video would take a fair few hours, if not days to get all the data sorted out to create the animation, with the plugin it was under 5 minutes from start up to start of rendering to make the movie, plus it can do colouring for time of year, and easy zooming in and out amongst other features. It also has Mars data now :)


Another example with more

02 February 2006, 08:42 PM
I would be very interested in seeing your plugin work. we do quite a bit of work with dems and orthophotos. it is not the easiest setup to make these work so it would be very nice to have a tool to do all of this. do you have information about your plugin? I would love to learn more.

06 June 2006, 06:53 AM
Hi spookycat I saw your plugin announcement. I was wandering if you could help me with a problem I posted here (

"Greetings fellas. I'm new to the forum, plz help :)
I need to realize a realistic terrain form real data. I don't want to use textures on my elevation models because it would take too much memory (the data must be exported to be used in a real time visualization software). I would like to know if it is possible to use a texture (in my case a satellite image) and convert the texture mapping into material properties for every triangle the mesh is made of. In this way I would have a 3d mesh with colours resembling those of the original texture. I hope I was clear enough. Is it possible with 3ds max alone? will I need a plug-in? or another program?
I must decide whether to purchase 3dsmax or not, this is the only feature I'm looking for.
Thanks in advance :thumbsup:"
Can your plugin help me? could you make something like I described or is there already something that does it?

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