Using Vue terrains as displacement maps in Maya

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  06 June 2007
Using Vue terrains as displacement maps in Maya

Hi there.

I have Vue 5 inf. on my Mac.

I love the qualities I get from Vue's procedural terrains - creating terrains that gnarly and rocky in Maya is no way near as easy. But I want to animate the terrains in Maya, making the terrain split open and move apart - that sort of thing.

Here's what I thought I could do - but don't know how;

1) Make a top-down orthographic render of the terrain, and use the z-depth map as displacement in Maya / Mental Ray. Would this capture the detail I'm after? I've got a feeling it won't. Are z-depth maps 32 bit? Also how do I create an orthographic camera in Vue?

2) With the procedural texture I created for that terrain, make another top-down orthographic render of the terrain, without atmosphere or environment lighting or anything like that so I have a nice texture map which can then be applied on the displaced surface in Maya.

Can anyone suggest a way of getting a procedural terrain that looks like this in Vue - to look the same in Maya - I guess is basically what I'm asking.

If anyone could help - I would be ttruly appreciative.


  06 June 2007
You can "export object" as an obj file from vue then load it in maya to get the same exact displacmet for the terrain, however you would have to use or create custom textures within maya to texture it.
Yes maya/mentalray will give you more definition of the terrain surface for higher detail.
Furthermore if you have a plugin to use for vue/maya that will let you export the entire scene textures and all and render them in maya that would be ideal. But i don't know if there's a plugin for thae version you are useing.
There is already an orthographic camera in vue along the z axis, if you need to create a secondary one you can just select the camera and click duplicate to create another.

I think that's what you were asking, i'm sorry if it wasn't but that's what i got from it.


Last edited by MrHobby : 06 June 2007 at 09:37 PM.
  06 June 2007
Depth maps are 8 bits only, with 256 levels of grey, so it wouldn't work.

And you can't export procedural terrains either, only regular "mesh" terrains. The reason is that proc terrains are not regular meshes, their level of detail, thus their poly count depends on the distance to camera, it's adaptive.
This also means than rendering a top down view of the terrain would show from almost no detail to very fine details the further down your camera, not easy to capture.
Your only choice here would be to use a regular terrain and add displacement to it inside Maya, with Maya tools.
  06 June 2007
Hi there.

Thanks for the advice so far. I had a feeling that depth maps were not going to be the answer.

Ok - What about this method... if you could tell me if it's possible and if so - HOW it is possible, I'd again be really grateful.

1). After having sculpted and finished creating my procedural terrain in Vue, can I export the grayscale image that forms it at a very high definition, as though the camera were right up close to the surface? Is there a way of doing this through the renderer?

I was thinking that - if vue could export the grayscale image through the renderer - I could get my (orthographic) camera right up close to the surface and take a series of renders and then tile them all together in Photoshop?

2). How is the best way to get totally neutral lighting in Vue, so that I could use the technique of a tiled render of a very up-close orthographic camera to get a hi-res texture map?

Again - thanks for the replies so far.
  06 June 2007
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