Introducing ArtMatic Voyager
by Eric Wenger
CTX 1.0 version presentation
User Interface & References
User Interface & References
Colors & Textures modes
ArtMatic Voyager Overview
ArtMatic Voyager is a program for synthesizing and exploring stunning, high-resolution virtual landscapes and worlds. The application is a new take on 3D landscape creation that makes use of the ArtMatic graphic synthesis technology to create photo-realistic landscapes of imaginary worlds. The application can be used standalone using the built-in planets and provided ArtMatic systems, or you can use ArtMatic Designer to define completely new worlds of your own, model 3D objects, create custom clouds and so on. ArtMatic Voyager comes with a extensive library of ArtMatic surfaces, color textures,3D volumetric objects, clouds, skies and backdrops that you can use in your own scenes. You can customize these elements or use them as jumping off points for your own creations if you have ArtMatic Designer.
Using ArtMatic Voyager is simple:
- Choose a planet surface, texture, and a sky definition.
- Define the environment: sun color and direction, sea and snow levels, haze/humidity.
- Travel the planet by moving and aiming the camera.
- Save interesting locations as places or keyframes.
- Render still images or movies.
Camera movement and environmental parameters can be animated to create stunning planetary voyages. If ArtMatic trees are used to define the planet's topology or shading/texture, the surface and shading can also be animated so that planets can be explored while they evolve.
ArtMatic Voyager uses a unique approach to creating virtual landscapes. Rather than polygon-based techniques, Voyager uses procedural functions to generate planet-sized terrains that are rendered as three-dimensional landscapes. This technique allows Voyager to easily create huge planets without any database. Furthermore most of the procedural building blocks are band-limited adaptive fractal functions which allows you to achieve stunning foreground details without wasting processing power for details far in the background.
ArtMatic Voyager can render views as still images or animation. Environmental parameters and the camera position can be keyframed and used to render stunning animation. The surface texture and shading can even be animated when using ArtMatic Designer terrain maps and color textures. Using the built-in planets or the provided ArtMatic planets is simple and fun. Advanced users can define their own planets and textures using ArtMatic Designer – either by starting from the provided examples or by creating new systems from scratch.
The ArtMatic Voyager Advantage
Voyager directly renders planets from a mathematical description of the planet surface. Elevations, defined by procedural mathematical functions or ArtMatic systems (which are themselves compact procedural mathematical functions), are evaluated on the fly as the rendering proceeds.
By contrast, traditional 3D landscape software stores elevation data in an array or database called an elevation map or height map. The enormous advantage of Voyager's approach is that it allows huge worlds (many times the size of our Earth) with infinite levels of detail to be defined compactly since there is no need for a database. As a result, the memory requirements and storage size of a planet is trivially small, and yet a Voyager file can yield scenes of extraordinary detail.
Beyond planets a Voyager scene can also feature cities, architecture, spaceships, vegetation and even animals. ArtMatic Engine 7 introduced procedural volumetric infinite cities. ArtMatic Engine 8 completed the set of DF primitives used in the 3D objects design. As with terrains, Voyager has a procedural approach to modeling through the technic called Distance Field Ray Marching (DFRM ) which offers an incredible flexibility. DFRM technics are covered in detail at Building Objects : DFRM guide
Planets & Built-in Planets
The size of a Voyager world is theoretically infinite, but practical considerations (primarily related to limitations of values that can be represented by a computer) require that planet size be limited. ArtMatic Voyager planets are planar (flat, non-spherical) terrains 60,000 kilometers by 60,000 kilometers – more than three times the size of the Earth. (The Earth has a surface area roughly 40,000 by 20,000 kilometers.) Surface amplitude can be controlled and allows the same elevation description to create subtle plains or extreme mountains and canyons. 3D ray tracing techniques are used to create the lighting effects. Distance is measured in kilometers. Latitude and longitude are expressed as offsets from the planet center. So, the map extends +/-30,000 kilometers North/South (latitude) and +/-30,000 kilometers East/West (longitude) from the planet center.
Voyager provides five built-in planets that are big and varied enough to spend years in exploration. They combine a variety of terrain procedures using complex random filters that provide a great deal of topologies. These planets could mostly be created in ArtMatic surface mode but would require very complex ArtMatic structures that would render more slowly than the built-in functions.
Oceans and snow level are defined with environment variables ( the sea level and snow level controls) and are not part of the planet topology.
Learn more about planets and ArtMatic defined terrains in Surfaces modes
ArtMatic Voyager provides you with a great deal of control over the planet's environment. The light, haze and other environmental parameters can dramatically change the planet's appearance. Most of the environmental controls are found in the lefthand toolset and in the Environment settings dialog. The environmental variable with the camera and the built-in lights constitute what we will call the Voyager Context variables.
- Camera location and view direction
- The sun's position & sun color
- The Ambient level controls the amount of incidental or ambient light that is available
- The Wetness level controls the degree to which the water and low elevations reflect the sky color
- Haze and the haze color picker give you control over environmental haze
- Sea level & sea color sets the altitude and color of the global planet ocean
- Sea Roughness slider influences the wind speed (and thus the motion of clouds when a system is animated)
- The Snow Level sets the altitude at which snow will be automatically added
- Built in lights that provides additional suns or light sources
- Clouds density and position
- Sky Environment rotation or position for backdrops
- Illumination gains and Gamma filter
Context variables can all be animated as each Voyager Keyframe will store a copy of the entire Context. You can disable the animation of a particular variable with the Animation Parameters inspector. Note that Planet mode and Sky mode and some global settings (Mist, Atmospheric color shift, Underwater color shift and various rendering modes) are NOT part of the context and can't be changed while animating.
Learn more about environment variables here.
ArtMatic Voyager lets you store favorite places on the planet in the Places menu. When saving a place, ArtMatic Voyager stores the current settings defined by the Context variables. Thus Keyframes & Places are very similar in that they both store the complete set of Context variables.
Places makes sense in relation to a specific planet so obviously when you change the main planet the locations may become problematic if the camera is below ground. However as the place saves other variable it is interesting to keep them as ways to store a particular ambiance and illumination so they are not cleared when changing the main planet.
Just move the camera and re-save the problematic places in that case.
Building Objects : DFRM guide