Print at May 27, 2019 10:00:21 AM
Posted by bartleby at Feb 23, 2016 7:22:09 AM
confused   high quality pictures at night - outside
hello again,

atm i am trying to see how our project looks like at night (version 5.2).

now... inside 0-4 aa looks quite good an with path activated slightly better.

but when i try to make a picture i have problems if i want more pixel (tried 3000) or best quality - picture is getting really really dark, nearly black. with lower pixel (200-1000) and/or just "better" qualitysettings everything looks as expected.
i would like to render one outsideview with perhaps 3400 pixel to be able to print it a least on DIN A3.

sadly can't upload pictures to the forum and dont want to us something like dropbox. in our company we got last year a nice virus from there ;).
atm. a renderingtest last with 12 cores 3+ hours - so i just canceled many tests after 2 hours (would be great i you could save the current picture if you stop the rendering).

second problem is that i have no clue what the other settings do:
- where are those filters explained (adv. rendering)?
- what do all the other settings really do?
- which settings are recommended?


Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 23, 2016 4:10:51 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Hello Bart,

I really need to see your project to be able to comment on this, so instead I will try to say something about my own procedures for rendering exteriors after dark.

There are no lights provided in SH3D when the sun has set, so I have to add my own lights : perhaps moonlight, some streetlights, the faint city lights illuminating the horizon, and of course the lights illuminating my object and it's surroundings.

First of all I make a new level, some fifteen-twenty meter above the top of my construction, where I spread out a dozen or more halogen lights. This will be the general light for the scene, and I will adjust the intensity until if gives the desired result.

Then i make another layer, or level, this time some three to five meters above ground, where I can place lights to illuminate the wall of the house, and the surroundings where needed.

For daytime a blue sky, or a textured sky, will produce a nice result, but after dark the sky will go completely black, unless it's textured. Neither a completely black sky nor a daytime sky, will normally give the right impression, so you need to apply a night-texture to the sky. I'm normally using gradient textures that I make with Photoshop. A light orange at the horizon, with a quick fade to a very dark blue. You can add a faint overlay of real clouds to make a more interesting sky, you have to experiment – and keep in mind that only a fraction of the lowest part your texture will actually be visible – and also that the rendered sky will look a bit different than it does in the preview-window. The gradient at the bottom should be very small. I normally make my sky-textures in 2560 px x 1440 px, which is the size of my display.
I normally render low quality previews a lot during the process. Setting light for a night scene can be quite a challenge.

This, of course, requires a powerful computer, preferably a twelve core processor like the one you are using, and a lot of ram. I have edited the memory configuration ( the info.plist) to 16348m, and I have no problems rendering 4K pictures.
A complicated 4K rendering can take many hours, so I usually start them right before bedtime, and normally they are done the next morning. I have never actually timed a 4K rendering, but a A 2K rendering takes 2-3 hours, depending on the complexity.
Sh3D ( or Sunflower), does not use the graphic-cards for rendering. That's probably why it's so slow, but on the other hand, that leaves the graphic cards free for simultaneous rendering in other programs.

I hope this makes any sense…
If I find the time I will post some pictures to visualize the process.

Posted by bartleby at Feb 23, 2016 8:06:52 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
hm.... moonlight and streetlights are nice ideas. hope i wont need them too much, feels a bit like cheating :). but maybe a function to add a bit backgroundlight would make things easier (like with the ceiling light - even though i dont need it anymore, enough light *g*).

today rendering worked quite like it should, think main problem was the "path". it was frustrating that my smaller previewpictures with same qualitysettings were much brighter.

today i testet "causticsPhotons" with 1.000.000. gave some white artefacts. i have no clue what this setting really makes. maybe because of my bad english.

also nowhere the filters are explained.

what does "normalLens.focusDistance" or "normalLens.radius"?
is it usefull to change those?

i will see if i can upload some pictures.

between - why is it good to set AA indoor to "0-4"? why not... well.. 4-4 or 5-5?
why should AA be lower at night (saw that tip in the forum).

Posted by bartleby at Feb 23, 2016 8:44:08 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
most pictures still on old pc and i cancel most tries to change things :).
but see yourself:
project just 146mb atm.

Posted by bartleby at Feb 25, 2016 1:30:29 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
hm... can't edit my own post.

well. inside AA 0-4 is great, path too. outside everything default works much better. more pixel = better quality = very much more time to render seems to be the way.

today i got a really nice picture (about 3400x1913 pixel) in 7,5 hours after deleting everything not visible with standard settings :). Ok AA i had 1-3, but i think that was useless, 1-2 would have been fine.
same picture at daytime takes just minutes...

is there a button to switch every light on the map off - so i dont have to edit every single lightsource? weren't lights automatically switched off at daytime with version 5.1?

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 25, 2016 2:12:25 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
No, you can't edit your own post.

You should organize your light sources in different groups. That makes it easy to switch them on and off.

I will try to post a few examples on night/day when my surroundings get a little less demanding :)

Posted by okh at Feb 25, 2016 2:20:15 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
..light sources in different groups...
Yes and you can modify multiple instances of the same model, typically to adjust the light power. However, as I find these groups of light sources often get in the way when drawing, it could also be a nice trick to place the light sources on a separate level (Plan-Add Level at same elevation). This - for me - is especially true when you have lots of downlights in the ceiling. ok

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 25, 2016 2:32:09 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
BTW, regarding depth of field, I think it's when the camera is behaving like a real camera where you have to focus on the object. But I haven't figured out what the numbers mean. The distance value might be centimeters, or they may refer to some internal scale. The normal lens radius might refer to the "circle of confusion", but again; just guessing.
Maybe there's a manual somewhere.

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 25, 2016 6:44:44 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
I have made a couple of renderings to illustrate the Depth of Field - options.
The distance is obviously centimeters, measured (I think) from the center of the circle ( on your camera-avatar), to the object ( or the part of the object) you want to be in focus. To find the exact distance, you can use the "Create dimensions"-tool – which is actually a tape measure.

Two renderings:

Distance: 130
Lens = 2

Distance = 130
Lens = 5

So, obviously a higher lens value gives a shallower depth of field.

Of course you will have to select "Depth of Field" from the Lens roll-down-menu for the settings to have any effect.

... and about "cheating" with lighting-effects, I will start a new thread: It might be of general interest...

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 25, 2016 7:02:15 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside

You are right. Using separate levels is a time-saver and a cure for o lot of frustrations.
I'm using levels a lot, almost like layers in Photoshop, and with the option to control visibility, it works perfectly.
One thing should be said about levels, though, that when you copy with cmd-left-click, it is copied to the level you are working on, like if you are using cmd-c & cmd-v.
And if the object is huge - like f.i. a terrain – ctrl-x hangs the machine for several minutes.

Why would I use ctrl-x?
To move it to the right level, because I have tweaked the copied element so much (on the wrong level), that don't want to lose my work.

Just mentioning it...

Posted by okh at Feb 26, 2016 8:15:13 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
@Ceciliabr Sounds very familiar smile - also CUT taking a long time occasionally. It may just be my imagination, but CUT (Ctrl-X) seems to take longer in the latest versions of SH3D (from around 4.0 or something). Which, btw, is one reason I avoid large models in general. ok

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 26, 2016 3:38:54 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Avoid large models?
How can I avoid large models with terrains that covers more than one square kilometer?
Here is a rendering from an 8GB file.

Sunflow is a powerful rendering engine, and SH3D is a great visualization program. I use it for what it's worth smile

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 26, 2016 6:43:32 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside

I have found a work-around for the problem with Cmd-x taking forever:
Reduce the size of the object to a minimum in the modyfier ( just remember to "keep proportions"), and then resize it back to normal after pasting it. I just tried it on a huge terrain, and it worked perfectly.

Posted by mazoola at Feb 27, 2016 12:12:25 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Cecilia -

Am I correct to understand the exterior render you posted was generated by SH3D? What are you using to create the terrain model -- or are you using pre-made or procedurally generated (e.g., from DEMs or other topological data)?

Regardless of how you're doing it, you're doing it beautifully...

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 27, 2016 6:08:11 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Good morning, and thank you, Maz !

Yes, this is rendered with SH3D, with default settings, and no post-processing done. This is "straight out of the box".

I prefer to create my own models, and my terrains are no exception. They are, as you mention, high-poly procedurals, but I never let a program create a "random" terrain for me. The "randomness" offered is in fact not so random after all, and the terrains created at "random" are maybe good for games, but totally unusable for creating natural environments – as are the ones you find laying around the net for free. In a way that's quite understandable.
I think it's great that people are sharing, and I don't mind sharing at all – but, and there's always a but: Once you share a useful creation and it becomes poplar, suddenly everyone starts is using it – and suddenly your own creations, the originals, emerges as copies.
After having worked with a lot of different visualization programs since I fled from art-school some thirteen years ago, I can easily recognize the most popular CGI-effects used over and over again; in TV-series, commercials, even in big Hollywood productions. When you spot shortcuts like that, it takes a bit of the magic away.
I want my pictures to have a story in them. That's why I mostly create my own models.

The best way to create a usable terrain is to use Photoshop (or some other paint program) an create a height map in black and white, and then use a program like Verto Studio ( or World Machine on PC) to create a terrain from the image. Then you'll have some control over how your terrain will look, and after a little practice, you can easily draw roads, rivers, valleys, mountains and so on using only the height info in the grey-tones.
Normally I use a Wacom tablet, but I also draw terrains with coal and a soft pencil on aquarelle ( watercolour?) paper, and then scan it. It produces a terrain with a very natural, uneven surface, good for grassy fields and plateaus.
I don't think topological data is available for Denmark, and who needs it, really, for modelling Denmark? After all Denmark is not famous for it's stunning scenery, wild mountains and deep valleys. (But it's beautiful all the same.)

Myself, I use a program named Vue to create both terrains and textures. Good textures are hard to make, and something I need to experiment a lot more with.

Posted by hansmex at Feb 27, 2016 9:53:46 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside

Maybe this link is interesting?

1 - place the blue square over your target area
2 - use the + and - buttons at top-right to select area size (8-18 km2)
3 - use green button to select data source
4 - use down button to download data.
As far as I know all data sets include a grayscale height map (of varying quality)

Have fun.
BTW: the landscape is stunning!


Posted by okh at Feb 27, 2016 11:29:18 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Avoid large models?
How can I avoid large models with terrains that covers more than one square kilometer?
Here is a rendering from an 8GB file.
Sunflow is a powerful rendering engine, and SH3D is a great visualization program. I use it for what it's worth smile
And stunning it is. Obviously, yours is the elegant way of doing this. But just not to daunt the casual reader, there are simpler ways if all you need is a basic idea of what the view looks like. The blog post How to add a scenery around your home maybe the most straightforward.

But it is also possible to use a sky texture with a panorama picture (to avoid those multi-Gig files) to get the general idea - especially for mountain sceneries - like discussed in thread 6362. This thread also links to a post which describes how sky textures are mapped on the horizon in SH3D (hint, the texture starts right in plan - due East if North is up in the plan).

True, the result will not be anywhere near as beautiful as Ceciliabr's pictures, but if you also add a bit of terrain underneath (elevating the building) and some objects around, this approach will produce the general idea.

As for sky textures, there are several possibilities. My preferred way, is to use a real 360 panorama made from my own pan photographs.

But you can also use 3D map viewers. Google Earth etc will not really give sufficient detail to look nice (but street view can be ok, provided you find a good vantage point). But there are other options too, like the Virtual Globe (with better imagery for Norway , btw - but I think there may be some Mac/Jave issues with the Virtual Globe).

Using panorama sky textures a is relatively easy cut-paste-scale job with some photo-editor the Gimp (or Photoshop, if you insist).

Even if the below pictures indeed look very plain compared to Ceciliabr's beautiful quality pictures, they have the advantage of being pretty small files (quick mock-ups with no ambition of producing something beautiful) where the extra 'scenery' is < 1 MB.


Panoramic image as sky texture:

Curved object with image of trees, transparent at top (sky texture is just a gradient image seamless, 360°):

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 27, 2016 11:58:49 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Thank you Hans, that's a VERY interesting link.
I was not aware of this at all when I modeled my imaginary mountain-terrain.

This opens a lot of new possibilities...


Posted by okh at Feb 27, 2016 1:57:37 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Thank you Hans, that's a VERY interesting link.
I was not aware of this at all when I modeled my imaginary mountain-terrain.
If you look around, you can find vector based contour lines and other geo data freely available, some with very high resolution (1m). But conversion between formats (and datum) is a total pain. At least, I have not found an easy way of converting vector map data to a format supported by SH3D - but that could just be me. So if anyone has a good way of doing this, please share.

Or, of course, I could play around with Hans' link - or even better - just wait for Ceciliabr to produce beautiful images...


Posted by mazoola at Feb 27, 2016 1:58:54 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Hans -

Terrain.Party is pretty amazing -- and after 20+ hours of grazing the web last fall for just this sort of site, I'd still never heard of it. I'm not sure what I'll use it for, but I'm definitely going to use it for something. ;-)

Thanks for the link!

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 27, 2016 2:07:02 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Thank you! smile

Terrains in the form of objects, have the advantage of being influenced by light and shadow, as well as absorbing and reflecting the general atmosphere ( mid-day/evening/sunset) Panoramic screens are not.

And: Terrains are not big files. But realistic textures (for people who don't fancy tiled lawns) can take a lot of memory.

However, the reason my file is 8GB, is due to far more than the vast terrain. "The Ugly Cabin", as it was immediately baptized by my stepdaughter (7), has two sets of extremely detailed interior decoration – one spanning from 1950 to 1972 (-ish), and one that is a bit more modern (2015).
(Maybe I should post some renderings in the Gallery? – or maybe NOT?)

I have taken the liberty of cutting out a tiny-tiny piece of Denmark ( just to try the link provided by Hans), and texturing it with grass(that does not look like tiles).

Here is a picture of a low-poly-terrain (94kb) textured with an equally small texture. Renderingtime: 2 seconds.

... and I have also made the files downloadable for anyone who wants it.

The zip contains a directory that holds 2 versions in 3DS-format. One low quality – 94kb ( the one on the picture), plus a high quality file of 3.2 Mb.
The directory also holds a downsized obj-file, and an SH3d-project file (made with 5.2a and might not work in previous versions) that shows how it can be used:

It's free for anyone who find it useful.

Vary the size, both height, width and depth to create variations, and experiment with textures.


Posted by okh at Feb 27, 2016 4:21:37 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Hmmm, this got my attention. My curiosity is primarily related to what kind of accuracy you can get with the tools you mention. As I need an accuracy of < 1 m contour lines for my actual projects with terrain, I have usually outlined 3D terrain based on accurate maps with the help of a laser measure. But it is not a favourite task.

Your file, however, looks as if you have generated a pretty high accuracy - higher than what is possible with say Sketchup+Google Earth terrain. And I agree that textures with tiled terrain is generally depressing, but it is possible to get away with a pretty good look with reasonably small (seamless) texture files.


PS - Of course, I also agree that the horizon/sky textuure is useless for generating light/shadow and general atmosphere. But I will still need a horizon to show mountains in the distance, but as you say, that is probably less of an issue in Denmark... And the curved forest-lines (and cliffs/rocks) for backgrounds can still be useful as they will render quite nicely, because they will also shade fairly nicely with sunlight renderings.

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 27, 2016 5:14:57 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
No, you don't need a horizon image to show mountains in the distance:

You need a terrain and a texture to create a mountain – but you don't need distance.
You can use almost any terrain to create an illusion of distant mountains – it's just a matter of dimensions: height, depth and width.
3D is all about illusions, whether you use a screen or an object to create them.
We are pre-programmed by nature – we KNOW that mountains are big,
even when they are small and close.

Here is a tree, made in Poser with a group of cloth-planes.
Un-textured it looks nothing like a tree, but textured with an image of ferns, it suddenly creates an illusion.

Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 27, 2016 5:35:38 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside

Yes, you can create terrains with great accuracy using Photoshop and Vue, once you get the hang of it, because it can take some time if you are very particular about the details. For me it works better to create landscapes from a number of different terrains, placing them om different levels and patching them together i SH3D.

I'm not a Sketchup user, so I wouldn't know what are the limitations, but from what I understand a lot of people dislike it.

Here is a snow mountain I just made (3.2 mb) if you want it. I'm sure you can re-size the texture and reduce the total size to around 1mb)


Posted by okh at Feb 28, 2016 8:30:52 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
..use almost any terrain to create an illusion of distant mountains – it's just a matter of dimensions... pre-programmed by nature – we KNOW that mountains are big.
Thanks for that, very cool mountain model. A mini mountain-range for rendering is a brilliant idea for gorgeous imagery with beautiful sunsets over a mountain range, never thought of that. Still, for my purposes, the sky texture also has some advantages.
1) It does not clutter the plan,
2) the perspective is better if the primary goal is to see which view you get from which window (see also SF Feature requests 668) - even if this may be a bit geeky, I prefer a mediocre view where the bearing (i.e. the navigation term) is as correct as possible.
But clearly the two can be combined, and the mini-model approach is perfect for great renderings.
Sketchup ... a lot of people dislike it.
True, and some for good reasons. But there are very many people who love it too. The 3D warehouse is a testemony to that. Sketchup can, for instance, generate terrain models based on Google Earth data. But the accuracy is insufficient for my purposes.
..create terrains with great accuracy using Photoshop and Vue...
Terrain creation as such is not a great problem. It is the data collation that sucks. Which is why I am curious as to whether the approaches you describe use geo-data (contour lines, elevation points) with a high level of accuracy (< 1m). Google earth data must be around 50m (between contour lines), standard topo maps are often around 20m. However, a decent survey map will have a resolution (< 1m). Now, being able to have a ready-made terrain model of high accuracy would be useful.


Posted by Ceciliabr at Feb 28, 2016 5:26:38 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
@ okh:

..the sky texture also has some advantages.

Interesting. I have yet to find a method for getting anything usable from a sky texture. And i have really tried:

I did a test a long time ago, called the Snowmantest ( for some reason). I was trying to understand why my beautiful evening-sky looked like it had been painted by a two-year-old with a vanilla-strawberry soft-ice.
The snowmantest was really simple. I used this image to texture the sky.

I opened the file again to day, just to see if anything had changed i v5.2. Placing the camera facing east, I saw this in the preview-window:

And this when it was rendered at high quality:

Tilting the camera upwards, I saw this in the preview-window:

And this when it was rendered at high quality:

So there's not only the distortion, there's also the significant difference in how the sky appears in the preview-window, compared to the high quality rendering, to take into consideration when constructing an image that will display correctly on a rendered image.

My little experiment with seemed to give quite an accurate result when imported in Vue.
But of course I can't import 8 sq. kilometers ( the smallest part you can get) into SH3D, so I have to use Photoshop to select a smaller area, a process in which the accuracy is lost due to the uncertainty regarding the exact size of the selection.

When it comes to the accuracy I was referring to earlier, it was not meant as a topographic accuracy for modelling perfect replicas of actual places. I was just referring to a relative accuracy in my own creations.
I have have during a long period of time, slowly been able to create a 32-step grey-scale palette that gives me a predictable outcome, but it's not based on any scientific tables or algorithms, just on my own tryings and failings.


Posted by mazoola at Mar 2, 2016 4:06:48 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Your hand-crafted heightmaps are terrific! I remember, far more years ago than I care to recall, briefly working on a never-finished game that somehow was supposed to combine text adventure with ray-traced images; as I recall, the player was supposed to take some actions/find some clues textually and some graphically. Then I quit my job and was handed another one, and I found myself flying around the U.S. working on a number of very early (OK: It was 1993) video-on-demand trials that burned through hundreds of millions of dollars and did little other than to demonstrate a number of ways one could not cost-effectively do VOD.

Anyway, in the shuffle my questionable little game design fell through the cracks -- but not before [and here's where I pull this back to the topic at hand] I discovered just how difficult it was to hand-carve believable terrain using heightmaps. In my experience, at least, what seems a realistic range or transition almost always is too exaggerated for real life -- possibly because we're used to seeing abrupt transitions in topological maps, where the transition in color space is out of scale to the underlying change in elevation. (Or an inverse response: Upon first opening the heightmaps from, I thought the application must have failed, as they appeared to be solid blocks of dark grey.)

As you say, it's taken you much time and effort to master the art of terrain design. While I've not been able to examine your work with fjords, from the mountain- and water-scapes you've shared, I suspect you're a regular Slartibartfast!

Posted by Ceciliabr at Mar 2, 2016 2:03:51 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside

On my first cellphone I had "Don't Panic" as my welcome message. I am among the lucky owners of "The Illustrated Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1994), and haven't looked at it for years until now, so thanks for reminding me. smile

I found a very nice blog about hand crafting height maps some time ago. That's really where I got the idea. But unfortunately it seems to be deleted.

My handcrafting is mostly limited to small objects, like hills, paths, roads, ponds, lawns, trenches and so on - things that are next to impossible to make just by manipulating auto-generated procedurals.

Making very small variations in height is of course dependent upon applying a general height reduction after the model is created.


Posted by okh at Mar 2, 2016 6:47:32 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
@Ceciliabr: Like snowmantest. A grid is a good idea. It admit I did struggle a bit until I managed to find the right balance between resolution and picture perspective (see thread 5533 ). And it works best for an eagle's nest: terrain elevated 5-10m + 360 panorama image + trees. I hesitate to share, because the place is kind of private - but there it works kind of well.

@Maz - Yes, clearly Slartibartfast quality terrain. Somehow I do not think Ceciliabr's DK location tells the full story. She may just have more mountain/fjord experience than she lets on. A terrain is easy, a good terrain is very difficult.


PS - The reference to HG2G annoys me a bit though, but just because a little accident with a boat, water and mobile deprived me of the original BBC production I kept on my phone. And now that I think about it, I also had a HG2G text based DOS game from the late 80'ies that I should probably rescue from a floppy...

Posted by Ceciliabr at Mar 2, 2016 9:06:43 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
An equirectangular projection... well, I learn something new every day.

You are absolutely right about my location: I lived in Norway from 1994 to 2014.

Posted by okh at Mar 2, 2016 9:36:35 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
An equirectangular projection... well, I learn something new every day.
Yup, that was new to me too.
.. Norway from 1994 to 2014.
smile Somehow it was possible to guess that your model and mountain renderings were not inspired by Himmelbjerget alone. ok

Posted by mazoola at Mar 3, 2016 9:31:48 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Ok -

Coincidentally, I recently slipped a Norwegian Easter egg into my current plans.

So when I put 'international cover model' in my cv, I'm telling the truth. Kinda.

That's probably as close to Norway as I've ever come. (No, wait: I spent a few hours in Malmö many years ago, so if I squinted I probably could have seen it.) However, I am re-[re-re-re-]reading all of Jo Nesbø's works — well, at least those not pertaining to farts — yet again, so at least this American knows where to find Norwegia on the globe. wink


P.S. I can sympathize with your HHGTTG audio woes: For a number of years, I managed to get by with an almostcomplete set of radio dubs I'd made. Then, some 20-odd years ago, I was most delighted to find a copy of the [by then already out-of-print] BBC/Mind's Eye cassettes, which I immediately and painstakingly transferred to CD. Fortunately, since then the BBC has released two excellent boxed sets, one containing the original two shows and one including the three later, posthumous series.

However, greatest HHGTTG bragging rights go to a friend of mine from university, who somehow managed to get one of the 640 tickets available to the first staged production at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts in May 1979. Only 80 audience members could attend each day, as the production was performed at various locations inside the ICA, with the audience, seated on a massive industrial hover lift, moved by stagehands from scene to scene.

Oh, BTW, the Infocom HHGTTG adventure game is available online, thanks to the BBC.

Posted by okh at Mar 3, 2016 7:15:57 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
.. I recently slipped a Norwegian Easter egg ...
Surely, you mean an Easter bunny smile - and a very funny one at that. I have no idea whether the rag still exists, but it created enough controversy to be remembered. It was supposed to bring (legitimise) the topic in nice homes. Never thought they would succeed until now.
Oh, BTW, the Infocom HHGTTG adventure game is available online, thanks to the BBC
Thanks!!! How cool is that. Brings back a lot of memories - must have wasted weeks staring at the black/green prompt. Funny thing is, that the game also covers some e-learning elements that have not really evolved that much. Amazing what you can do even without all the bells and whistles. ok

Posted by mazoola at Mar 4, 2016 4:35:01 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
I have no idea whether the rag still exists

Seemingly, it does -- which in this day and age is remarkable in itself. I met the folks behind it during a visit they made to San Francisco ages ago and enjoyed speaking with them. (At the time I was busy losing my life's savings trying to do something similar -- though admittedly with far less style. We shared a number of contributors, though, which indirectly led to my being on the cover of their Spring 2000 issue.)

I began working with SH3D about a year ago as part of a project I thought would take nor more than a couple of months. Although it's since become obvious my initial rationale no longer applies, I've continued to work with the design -- in part to improve my SH3D chops, in part to learn Sketchup, and, more recently, in part to refresh those neurons responsible for understanding vector math, linear equations, ray-tracing, and Java.

Almost from the beginning, though, I managed to hide a few self-indulgent touches here and there, knowing that should the images ultimately be used in a listing, somewhere in the background might be family photos, a book or magazines with my writing, framed album covers from records on my label, or another similar in-joke. (For instance, on a shelf in the second floor bedroom is a display case containing a large rubber frog -- the e-world mate to a gift I once gave my brother-in-law [twice-removed], containing a prop from the film Magnolia.)

Funny thing is, that the game also covers some e-learning elements that have not really evolved that much.

While officially I bought my first PC in order to write articles on punk and new wave -- this was 1983, after all -- off the record, Infocom and CompuServe's CB Simulator were equally important. The following year I started Pala Designs as a publisher of text adventure games. While Pala's first and only product, an archaeological adventure titled 'Mixtec,' never came to be, I did manage to reuse a portion of the code in a chapter on creating a teachable Natural Language Parser in Pascal for a book Dr. Dobb's published. It was extremely crude -- but I still remember the thrill I got the first time it responded to a query that required it to make an inference based upon grammatical rules it had been taught.

Much more recently, I've sent a number of developers and [software] architects to look at Inform 7 -- most particularly, at its IDE. Inform 7 (the site for which currently appears to be offline -- temporarily, I hope) is the most recent incarnation of the Inform programming language for writing interactive fiction. Originally an attempt to reverse-engineer Infocom's Z-code, Inform was re-written from the ground up for Inform 6 to give it scope and capabilities far beyond anything Infocom ever envisioned -- and then completely re-written again to create Inform 7, a natural language development system. Inform 7 includes the most amazing IDE I've ever seen, allowing the user to move seamlessly among different representations of the game under development while offering context-dependent assistance and support. It's a truly remarkable implementation, one I feel worthy of far more attention and emulation than it's received.

Posted by okh at Mar 8, 2016 12:41:14 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
...Maybe this link is interesting? ...
In a totally different context I was told that NL and probably others now share and aggregate different geographic data-sets. I did not get the details, but apparently the data should be open for use. I did not have time to explore further, but jotted down a link - neither of which I can get through to right now. But I did find the demo video from Holland with 5cm contour lines at

Even if I managed to find the data-sets, transforming them to decent 3D terrain models would be beyond me, not to mention that 5cm resolution is way too detailed for any processing power I have. What is interesting though, is that based on these data-sets it should be possible to generate very accurate terrain models for use with SH3D.


Posted by hansmex at Mar 8, 2016 1:36:46 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside

Interesting link. Their website seems to be down. Last activity on their website was in February 2016. Strange...


Posted by okh at Mar 8, 2016 2:02:59 PM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
It is kind of strange it is down, but a compatriot of yours managed to pull it up on his laptop Thursday last week to show me, so it may be temporary. Either way, the data are out there somewhere - so maybe someone will come up with how to create surveyor quality terrains for SH3D. ok

Posted by okh at Mar 13, 2016 10:19:38 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside is up an running again. Hosting centre wiring problem apparently. ok

Posted by hansmex at Mar 13, 2016 11:34:24 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Thanks for pointing out that is online again. After some searching I found the data source.

Unless I am very much mistaken, here you can find the files. These are zipped TIFF-files. They look like grayscale images that can be convertedeto height data/maps.
They are pretty much completely white, but remember: 1 meter is a hill, and 10 meters is a mountain in the Netherlands.

In the coming days, I will try and make some sense of this.
To be continued...


Posted by okh at Mar 14, 2016 10:56:35 AM
Re: high quality pictures at night - outside
Looking very much forward to any report on any result you might get.

There are some open geodata repositories in different countries. Unfortunately the ones I have tried are annoyingly difficult to extract and convert to terrain objects. But that may just be me.

In a perfect world, the EU would succeed with the Open Data policies to an extent where SH3D (a plugin) could extract general terrain based on the compass location (even if I have few expectations this will happen any time soon smile).

IF so, however, the SH3D (location) compass should probably allow for higher accuracy than the three digit Lat/Long. If my rough estimation does not let me down, the three digit location implies a possible North/South inaccuracy of some 111,12 metres. Plenty good enough for sun rendering, but not sufficient for accurate geodata. It goes without saying that this hardly is a priority wish.