Here’s an Animated Backdrop where I rendered the backdrop using a camera in motion. Brought the resulting animation file into dogwaffle and added some lightning. Everywhere the lightning strikes and a few places where I lead you to believe the lightning strikes - but out of range of the camera, I brightened the whole scene for three or four tenths of a second. Then used AnyFX in dogwaffle to add rain. Back into Carrara and ran the animation in the “Backdrop” instead of background, and added the fog in motion. The motion on the trees was set in the first render.
Volumetric clouds as fog (or clouds, for that matter) can really slow down a render. Well this time it was only rendering the volumetric clouds, about four or five of them, swirling about and growing, over the animated backdrop(avi or sequenced images - I use avi) and rendered along pretty good.
Then back into dogwaffle for a final run of rain, and a little more brightening effect.
Now the scene ships (well, soon.) with that backdrop (without the character) using the same motion camera that matches the movement, and the lighting of the scene matches the brightness effect from the lightning - but with added highlights for the character - or whatever you put into the scene. It’s a bonus scene for the up coming Woodlands kit for Carrara.
This one uses a distant background spherical map in the Scene settings, with a base terrain, some plant life and fog (vol. clouds, rising just above the terrain slightly).
You can see that I made the trees and terrain really far away in the background. Some of them, the trees and terrain are much closer - to where the most distant part of the terrain and trees used in this would become slightly out of scale - because they’re too far away from the camera. Those are meant to have nothing in them but a character. Really fast rendering techniques.
Sorry for the babble, but I’m hoping that it sparks some ideas. I just got done doing a bunch of this - so I thought it could help