In this session of the 3D Art Direct podcast, we’re talking to Oshyan Greene, the business manager of Planetside Software, which produces the well-regarded Terragen 4, a great solution for rendering and animating realistic, natural environments. Terragen 4 is used in film, TV, commercials, as well as educational disciplines, to name but a few. We’re primarily talking to Oshyan about the recent release of Terragen 4.1, as well as SIGGRAPH held recently in Los Angeles.
Listen to the podcast here
During the interview, Oshyan talks about….
- The Siggraph experience.
- Terragen 4.1 performance improvements.
- New optimisation for cleaner renders.
- “Easy Cloud” improvements in T4.1
- What’s next for Terragen.
Snippet from the transcript
Paul: Now, I understand, Oshyan, you’ve just got back from SIGGRAPH, and that’s a conference I’d love to attend one day. Probably be a little bit expensive for me, but it’s one of my ambitions to go over there and meet a whole bunch of different people using different 3D applications. What was your experience like at the conference? Did you get a chance to meet some of your community or clients and see what they were doing with Terragen 4?
Oshyan: Yeah, we had a great experience, this year in particular. We’ve been to… I’ve been to three SIGGRAPH conferences now, and Matt, the software architect and the founder of Planetside Software has been to numerous other ones over the years. But, yeah, this was my third, and the really cool thing about this one was that we finally had our own booth. So, in the past, we’d come and we’d just sort of been wandering around the floor. We’ve gone to various talks and exhibitions and all that stuff. And we’ve met people in the past, certainly. But having our own presence in the exhibition hall this year just opened up things, you know, way beyond. We shared a booth with our render farm partner, Pixel Plow, and they were just great to be next to and to work with, to create the booth and had a great experience just spending time with them. And then lots of people coming by, customers on both sides.
You know, tons of Terragen users, some people from the forums came by, which was really unique to kind of put a face to a name, so to speak, and talk to people about the Terragen work that they’re doing. We met people using Terragen in film, in games, in TV, and all kinds of other areas. Lots of people in the educational community. We’ll talk later about the educational license program we have. But we had faculty come by. We had students come by. We had some graduate students talking about really interesting research that they’re doing in weather simulation and other things like that. We had a bunch of people from the Griffith Park Observatory come by. They’re long-time Terragen users. They use it for their planetarium shows. They were great people to talk to, just super friendly, really nice people. We had someone from Boeing in Australia come by. I think he might have been one of the farthest-flung people who was able to visit, and that was really cool. He’s been a Terragen user for, I think, 17 years or something like that. So, to meet him was really a great thing for both Matt and I. And, yeah, it was a great experience, especially, as I said, having a booth for the first time and really getting to just meet so many people and talk to them about software and share the enthusiasm, show them things in person, all that kind of stuff.
Paul: Now, I think I remember reading at your stand, you had like a slide deck or a whole series of clips from different films that Terragen has contributed towards or the core software for rendering these type of landscapes. Did that pull some people in, with showing that slide deck?
Oshyan: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think we’re gonna put a edited version of the customer show reel up on our website at some point, but this one was a full, I think, 5 minutes long or something like that. So we really got to show a lot of the films that Terragen has been used on. And I think it was very eye-catching. We had lots of people who would just come by and stare at the reel for a while, just watching it go by. They would watch it, you know, three or four times over sometimes. And then, you know, they’d have questions. And, I think…so that was cool. And then one of the other really cool things is we had some of the people who had worked on those shots in those films come by and, you know, see it and go, “Oh, hey, yeah, we used Terragen. This is what we did,” kind of explaining more in detail, you know, some of the things, or just kind of reminiscing about the work that they had done on the film. And so, that was really…you know, SIGGRAPH is sort of the industry conference in the computer graphics community, at least in the Western Hemisphere. And so, you just…you have all of these incredibly talented people who have worked on some of the greatest films and, you know, other creative projects in the industry. And so, they’re there, they see the work, and they can, you know, talk about their contributions and experience. It’s really a unique and amazing opportunity.
Paul: Now, I know Terragen’s got the ability to output to virtual reality environments. It can do that. And I was gonna ask you did you see kind of lots of VR demonstrations at the conference? And did you have a go?
Oshyan: Good question. So VR is definitely big. Last year, I think, was probably like the year that it started to get really big, and this year, it’s, you know, spread even further. During the exhibition phase of the conference, which lasts three days, we were super busy in the exhibition booth itself. And so, I didn’t get to see as much of the show floor as I would have liked to, or as I saw it last year, but I did see a couple of really cool things. One of which was VR-related. A guy named Scott Metzger and a company called Nurulize that he co-founded, they make a real-time point-cloud-based virtual reality visualization system called Atom Viewer, and I think they have another related product, I don’t remember the name of it. But basically, it allows you to visualize extremely dense point clouds, where you’re essentially…like, you know, if you scan a real environment with a LIDAR or something like that, or even with photogrammetry, you create a bunch of points that represent all of the surfaces in that scene. You might end up with hundreds of millions of points.
And if you can think about that in terms of geometry like, you know, most software is not gonna be able to do…to visualize that very quickly, but this was able to do it in real-time with these incredibly detailed and dense models. And you could, you know, edit them and change the colors and do all of this stuff. And it was a really impressive demo. I didn’t get to do it in VR, but I did see on the monitors while other people were experimenting with it. And it was just a really impressive demo. We had seen them before, last year as well, when they were in their earlier phase. So it was great to see them out on the show floor this time and really standing out with their really cool technology that they’ve been working on for a while. So, that was…as far as VR goes, that was probably the thing that stood out the most to me, but there were some other really cool research papers and some hardware and stuff that we also saw that definitely impressed.