Need help ASAP! Rendering outdoor City Scene VRAY

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  10 October 2012
Need help ASAP! Rendering outdoor City Scene VRAY

I have to re-render a large number of scenes. I was told that my environment didnt have enough contrast, and that everything looked like miniatures because the shadows weren't defined enough. I was also told that everything looked flat, and i needed some haze to add depth. I did alot of experimenting at the beginning of this project, but now a deadline is approaching, and i need to have everything done soon.

I used a vray dome, with a HDR for this lighting. I am not sure how I want to approach it now, that I have to re-do everything. Do I need a new HDR? Should i go with a dome light, and a vray sphere w/infinite light? Maybe Vray sun & sky? At this point, i just need it to get done, so I can get started on the FX. I just need a few suggestions, for a good looking/efficent method. Im trying to graduate! Any help is appreciated! Thanks

  10 October 2012
If you want to cheat, re render the whole animation but with gi off and get a shadow pass/ao pass/z depth pass out and do a few compositing adjustments with haze/shadows and some ao dirt.

However if you have enough time, go with the sun/sky setup at a low angle. Not sure which V_Ray build you have access to, but on the latter ones, you can increase/override the colour of the sun it looks nice to add a really orange colour too.

Cities look great with a low orange sun, like GTA San Andreas from memory used it quite a bit.
  10 October 2012
One thing that contributes to the miniature look is the size of the road... it looks like 20-30m wide. The texture on the road/street isn't adding much either. You need some markings and lines etc. And yes, a more contrasty hdr would help, or just go with the sky/sun. Good luck!
  10 October 2012
since you are going for day time photo reel get a reference image you like for lighting. then it should be easy to match. dome light and a directional light or sun sky will work.

you camera angle isnt helping either. on all the images here its from street level

as far as lighting based on this image http://www.schoolvoorjournalistiek....06/P5110609.jpg I would isolate only the enviroment light and get the buildings to the same level at the buildings on the right of the image.the hdri is not the problem. once they are in the ball park. just turn on your key and match the image value to the sunny part of the image.

for more contrast go low enviroment and high key.

at the moment your image looks like its lit in a studio. also sort out the road scale and texture wise. let me know if you need some render settings.

theres good tips in this tut for adding post effects

good luck

  10 October 2012
Thanks for your replys! This is what I was working on last night. I played with the sun and sky, and it seemed to work well, but where I ran into issues was with the physical camera. I could get the image to look exactly how I liked it to look, but then, lets say the side walk would look over blown, and really washed out, and then i would try to correct that, and then another part of the scene would look strange. I just couldnt get it all to work in a way where I would be 100% satisfied, and not 90%. I then started to work with a dome light, with a sphere to be my sunlight. This gave me results that I like, but I know I can do better. I used the Vray environment fog, to add some depth.

I dont have the version of Vray that lets you change the suns color. I read things about the newer version 2.00.04, was buggy, so i didnt even bother with it. When it comes to the street texture, i struggled with it. When I put markings on the road, it looked cheap, and I kinda just left it the way it is, because i needed to move on. The picture that I posted is actually twards the end frame of the animation. The camera comes from overhead, descending down twards the road, and turns into the image that I posted. I will reduce the width of the street. Some help with the textures would be noce too. But I am not sure what you mean by Low environment, and the Digitsl tutors link, just seems like an advert page. I didnt see a specific lesson on effects in post.

Here is a image that I was working on last night. Its a dome light with a sphere sun. I will work on another one tonite, with your new suggestions. Thanks!
  10 October 2012
dont worry about the link it was just about adding atmosphere in post I think its by ed and is one of the guerilla nuke ones.

an environment light is a dome light in vray. If the sun and psychical camera are giving u trouble just use a regular camera with a Directional light for the sun. it might give u less of a headache and more control.

if the scene is ment to be lit with strong sun its looking a bit grey and dull. u could bump up the key(sun) more

  10 October 2012
So I used a different hdr, and a sphere light. Any suggestions?
  10 October 2012
From a lighting point of view, the 'overcast day' look is not very visually stimulating. Sometimes its whats need to integrate something into a live action shot, but when making my own compositions I usually avoid this type of lighting scheme because it always has the problem of looking boring. Hamburger recommended a sunset look, and patrick commented on higher contrast. I agree with both of these statements. The sunset look combined with maybe stronger atmospheric shadows would go well with the 'post-apocalyptic' theme

Tobbe mentioned the problems with the road texture and I really strongly agree you should try and fix this. The reason is that the tiling looks too coarse which throws off the sense of scale. Its also very uniform which makes it look fake. And the reason this is such a damning problem is because its front and center in your render and taking up a large amount of screen space. Its the very first thing that I noticed when looking at the image the first time. I also feel the same way about that dirt texture on either side of the image. Too flat, no detail, very boring.

You have alot of cool elements in your image, and many of them have interesting texture already. Seems to me you need to get more contrast/color in your lighting, some stronger atmospheric effects and you absolutely have to deal with the road and dirt textures. Thos two textures are killing your shot.

For better road stuff, go to and download lots of different road/asphalt textures and make a hi res custom roadway.
  10 October 2012
Thanks alot for that thorough critique. Im kind of struggling with the lighting. I guess i have a bad choice of hdr's, or is it my sunlight that is the problem? I am kinda self teaching myself here, and I remember reading somewhere that the sun & sky, was a little bit too perfect, so I just tried to avoid it, but maybe that is the answer. I will give it another try. When you say stronger atmospheric shadows, do you mean they are fine the way they are, but with more light intensity to make them darker? Or should the sun be at a certain angle to make them longer?

When it come to the road texture, i really struggled with that too. I actually got all those textures from CG textures. I wasnt sure how to make a good road. When I chose roads with, a double yellow line, they ended up showing alot of pixels, at this view. I always chose the High resolution textures too, so I dont know what Im doing wrong. The road is made of at least 20 cubes, instanced with the texture on it. I wasnt sure of any other ways of doing it. Id love to hear some suggestions on how to make the road. The dirt texture is a Vray plane with a dirt texture repeated on it. I didnt know what else to do to it. I just knew that the space needed to be filled.

Thanks again for the critique! I wasnt really satisfied with the road, and I wasnt in lve with the dirt either. I guess i just moved on with it, and just decided to leave it as-is. I am open to changing it, its just that I dont know how to properly set it up. Like should I instance it, or make 1 long road? Ive been confused with that for a while....This is my first for pretty much everything, modeling, texturing, animating, i really appreciate the help.
  10 October 2012
I think the physical sun/sky system will work well for you here because you have a fully modeled environment. Setting the sun angle low will give you those nice sunset colors, but make sure to position your light such that there is some direct sunlight hitting some of those buildings, ie on the sides. you want to have some range in your lighting so some parts need to be getting direct sunlight, and then some parts in the shadow. You dont want your entire shot to be in the 'shadow'.

In terms of atmospherics, I mean volume shadow fog and also zdepth fog. Give it that slight dusty, misty look. For this look into how to implement the mib_parti_volume shader. you dont want to overdo it but it adds a nice touch of drama to your image.

Realistic roadways can always be a challenge especially when theyre in such a hero position like in your shot. I would recommend putting it together in photoshop with layers. start with some basic nice looking asphalt and get a base going on that has the slightly color variations for tires marks in the lanes. Then paint on the lane divider lines, break up this layer with some noise so it looks worn in. then use some of the cracks, tar marks and other erosion details from source imagery from cgtextures to add variation. Consider making your roadway two pieces, one for the straight sections and on for the intersection (so you can use the straigh parts on all sides of the intersection).

Hope that helps!
  10 October 2012
I'll second the road thing.

I really think you need to grab some of these,, mix them up a bit in Photoshop and chuck them on.

I'm sure someone could elaborate more on the material properties of chipseal, it appears to be only VERY slightly reflective, fresnel, presumably low glossiness.
  10 October 2012
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