Creating Big City Scenes in DAZ Studio

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  • barbultbarbult Posts: 15,205

    First of all, what the heck is "River Front"? Link?

    Without knowing what you are scattering on, I would suggest using Surface scatter. You may be able to limit the scatter to a particular surface, if your "River Front" has separate surfaces for the areas you want to scatter on and the areas you want to avoid. One thing to be aware of is that the position of instances is based on the objects origin, not the object boundaries, so the edge of the scattered instances will most likely hang over the edge of the surface you scatter on. You might need to create a distribution map to control where your instances are placed. Other things to consider are min and max elevation and affinity and repel.

  • River Front used to be available in the DAZ Shop, but he left DAZ and took his stuff to Renderosity.

    This is the Renderosity link:

    https://www.renderosity.com/mod/bcs/movie-sets-river-front/110031/

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    edited July 2019

    Off and on over the day I've taken a look at using UltraScatterPro to distribute the city blocks. Here's my thoughts:

    1. The easiest way may be to manually create instances and move them using the pose controls that come with Riverfront. I showed the results in this post. To do so, create the instances using main menu Create/New Node Instances and input a number like 5-6. The instance will be hidden under the ground so change Y-translate on the instance group to 3520 or so.  Select one instance and from the Content Library pane choose Poser Formats/My Daz 3D Library/Poses/Dreamland Models/Low Poly 6 (or any number)/River Front and double click on a number and it will move the instance to that location. Change y-rotation in 90 degree increments as desired. Do that for all the instances and then repeat on other city or low poly blocks (these block number poses will work on anything: city blocks from Rendo, other props, etc.).

    2. For UltraScatterPro, using Matrix mode. This is probably the hardest way but puts the blocks in the right spacing. Set the matrix for X-Y-Z to the following values: Rows 13-1-11, Spacing 100-0-100, Offset 0-0-0. Set the Units dropdown box on lower left to Meters. Under the rotation tab, set Y-Rotation to 180 and Y increment to 90. Now do the scatter. You will get a block in every spot in the matrix (143). The group will be offset (and maybe not visible) so choose it and set X translate to -59158, Y to 3520, and Z to -29739. The individual instances are not available to choose, so select the instance group child with the name UltraScatterPro Low Poly Nine I Instances 1. From the main menu choose Edit/Figure/Instances/Break Instance Group. You can now select and delete all the ones you don't want (more work in my view than doing method 1 above).

    3. For UltraScatterPro, using Surface mode. First create a plane Y-positive, 1300 meters, 13 Divisions. Select the low poly or city block in the Scene pane and start the script. Set instances to a number like 5-10. Set units to meters. Set target object to Plane. On Distribution tab set spacing to 100. I found the spacing not to match the street grid but it will scatter across the city. Break the instance group and manually place the blocks to the closest location (hide the plane and hover over a plot of grass until the block number appears, then choose it using the pose controls discussed in method 1). I found this to be faster than method 2 and close to method 1.

     

    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • RGcincy said:

    I haven’t seen any 3DL render time issues with a large number of sets added. Each one adds geometry, so the viewport movement will get increasingly slow as will load/save time. How slow will depend upon how much free ram you have. 

    I have scene optimizer which can reduce the texture sizes selectively. You could reduce textures further away from the camera while keeping those close by at normal resolution.

     

    Regarding the latter, how can the task of reducing textures further away from the camera while keeping those textures close by at normal redolution be accomplished?

    Thanks for sharing the information on creating instances, by the way.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507

    If you add instances, they will share the same textures as the original prop they are made from so my understanding is there is no added memory used by them. On the other hand, each of the city blocks/low res blocks add another full set of textures and those do use more and more memory. So say you have 10 different blocks in use (none are instances). More than likely only one to three of these will be up close to the camera and benefit from full textures. Select those farther away from the camera and use Scene Optimizer to reduce the textures. Of course, if you are rendering multiple scenes from different locations with different blocks in view, you'll want to reload the original scene and reduce a different set of textures.

  • So my question is, what should i set the X and/or Z coordinates on the camera in order to get it enough away from the camera in order to avoid blurred images in the prop?

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    edited May 2019

    Wanted to point out this new product: Street Trash Collection. One thing many city models lack is the debris that goes along with city living. You can use these objects along with this post and this post I made back in 2017 to give your streets a lived in look.. 

    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • mmitchell_houstonmmitchell_houston Posts: 2,377
    edited May 2019
    RGcincy said:

    Wanted to point out this new product: Street Trash Collection. One thing many city models lack is the debris that goes along with city living. You can use these objects along with this post and this post I made back in 2017 to give your streets a lived in look.. 

    Thanks for the link to the older posts. Very interesting stuff.

    And I couldn't agree with you more. A little rubbish goes a LONG way toward making a city scene look realistic.I also use the same approach when "set dressing" a house or office. Unless you are in a military scenario where everything is spic-n-span all the time, you need to see little personal touches along with a scattering of items (paperwork, laundry, dirty dishes – anything) to give the place that lived-in look.

    Post edited by mmitchell_houston on
  • I purchased the three DreamlandModels Warehouse district buildings and dock crane yesterday afternoon.  It's an excellent add-in to the River Front prop, but one problem i have with it, is that along the dock, (supposedly where sailboats are docked) you have a street.  So I would guess it is recommended that the Warehouse district props should go in the grey area of the River Front base, just north of the river, which is south of the northernmost three rows in the scene?

    The River Front scene is a perfect place to have an industrial and warehouse area along the river.  I am hoping there is room in the dark grey area to place the FirstBastion Hospital and other buildings i purchased such as a fast food joint, department store, an ice cream parlor and maybe the exterior of a shopping mall.

  • RakudaRakuda Posts: 682

    Always one of my favorite threads. So much good info

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    JonSea31 said:

    So I would guess it is recommended that the Warehouse district props should go in the grey area of the River Front base, just north of the river, which is south of the northernmost three rows in the scene?

    That's where I have placed industrial buildings (iron furnace, oil refinery).

     

    JonSea31 said:

    I am hoping there is room in the dark grey area to place the FirstBastion Hospital and other buildings i purchased such as a fast food joint, department store, an ice cream parlor and maybe the exterior of a shopping mall.

    You can create additional area by hiding adjacent blocks and replacing those areas with a plane or short cube to give more space. That's what I did here.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    Rakuda said:

    Always one of my favorite threads. So much good info

    Thanks Rakuda!

  • EightiesIsEnoughEightiesIsEnough Posts: 857
    edited May 2019

    I remember adding the hospital prop to the city scenr some days ago, but for some reason, DAZ Studio crashed on me.  I don't know if it has to do with a combination of multiple programs running (including the Internet), as well as having very large props on the scene, causing the programto encounter a fatal error and unexpectedly crashing.

    What exactly could the problem be, and how could I solve the problem?

    I even tried reducing texture sizes too.  I am hoping the DAZ Studio crashing is likely due to other programs running simultaneously.

    Post edited by EightiesIsEnough on
  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507

    Hard to say but could well be memory. If you are on Windows, open the Task Manager (ctrl + alt + delete) and open the performance tab. See what the memory looks like as you load objects. You can also look at the Daz Studio log but usually it won't show what caused a crash. A clean boot of Daz Studio or even of the computer may help. DS and other programs can have memory leaks that build up over time. 

  • EightiesIsEnoughEightiesIsEnough Posts: 857
    edited May 2019

    I did check out Task Manager, and at the time of a crash, I may have had only Firefox open, and nothing else.  I may have also had MalwareBytes running at the same time.

    I think adding a large size or high-poly prop may have contributed to the crash, and for that, I decided not to add that large-sized prop into the city scene.

    The hospital doesn't seem to be a problem at this point.  It was at some point last week that a different crash previously happened, but then again, that may have been due to having Firefox, Second Life and DAZ Studio open simultaneously.  Maybe it's not a good idea for me to not have any other programs running while I am working on a big city scene in DAZ Studio.

    I do like to ask, does Firefox use more memory than the Windows Internet app?  And I don't trust Google Chrome, because I used it a few years ago, and it may have started to drain my computer battery at the time.

    Post edited by EightiesIsEnough on
  • RakudaRakuda Posts: 682
    edited May 2019

    @JonSea31 Firefox is a serious memory hog. It only multiplies if you have multiple tabs or instances open.  I would choose another browser or not run it at the same time as  you were doing anything intense with Daz perhaps.

    And when you refer to the "Windows internet app", I would choose Edge over IE (which is  deprecated or dying).But that has nothing to do with Daz and is a digression :)

     

    Post edited by Rakuda on
  • Rakuda said:

    @JonSea31 Firefox is a serious memory hog. It only multiplies if you have multiple tabs or instances open.  I would choose another browser or not run it at the same time as  you were doing anything intense with Daz perhaps.

    And when you refer to the "Windows internet app", I would choose Edge over IE (which is  deprecated or dying).But that has nothing to do with Daz and is a digression :)

     

    Thanks for informing me about the cons with Firefox vs. Microsoft Edge.  I may have Edge on my computer at home, as virtually all computers with Windows 10 may have Edge.

    I guess Firefox is a major contributing factor in the memory problem.  Edge, or no Internet open, may be the route to go when running a big city scene in DAZ Studio.

  • EightiesIsEnoughEightiesIsEnough Posts: 857
    edited June 2019

    I got the Refinery scene today, but I have to admit, when I place props/buildings on the dark grey area on the north side of the river, what should I place in the open area that is still dark grey?  I know I intended to construct a commercial access loop road specifically for the three Dreamland warehouse district buildings, so that would fill some of the grey space.  But I feel as if there needs to be a chain link fence along a sidewalk in order to avoid non-employees from entering the property.  And maybe I should add grass to the remainder of the area, and also employee parking lots.  Maybe a security gate at the ends of each access.

    Are there any props for a security gate, as well as grass planes, that I could purchase or - even better - get for free?

    Post edited by EightiesIsEnough on
  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    JonSea31 said:

    Are there any props for a security gate, as well as grass planes, that I could purchase or - even better - get for free?

    I'm sure there are (ShareCG has some for Vue but you'd have to figure out how to convert them) but you could also create your own. For the grass, make either a primitive plane or cube, add a grass shader to it, adjust tiling of the surface so it looks the right size, and position it so the top is just covering  River Front's surface. The plane works but a cube is a bit better as you don't have to position it as carefully. If you don't have any grass shaders, you can use the RF grass surface. With River Front loaded and textured, select the grass surface, Copy Selected Surface from the surface pane menu, select the primitive's surface, and Paste to Selected Surface from the surfaces pane menu, then adjust tiling. You can do something similar for parking if you find a parking space texture.

    For the fence, create a primitive plane that is standing upright.  In the Opacity channel, add the texture Metal_0932_DISP from the River Front textures folder. Adjust tiling to shrink the opening size. You may find a better texture in another product you already own that has fencing. If you have City Block two for example, there's a texture Farbic_0142a that is a chain link fence. If you want posts and cross bars, use some primitive cylinders to make them.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    edited July 2019

    With the success of my dForce webinars, Digital Arts Live invited me to do one on creating big cities. So later this month I'll be covering how to craft a road network and add buildings, populate the city with people and vehicles, and add street detail (props and textures). Click on the image for a link to the registration site.

    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    edited April 6

    I had previously filled RiverFront's 101 blocks with instances of the same 6 low poly blocks but had never assembled a complete city with the variety of districts and building types that are typical of large cities. In preparation for the webinar, I did that using over 65 different products available at Daz3D and other sites. You can imagine the amount of memory that takes especially for birdseye views, so I created it using scene subsets so I can make composite images using the parts in view. Here are two different birdseye views that show the complete city.

    List of products used

    (click on the images to see full size)

    View from the NW: 

     

    View from the NE:

    City Webinar - big city.png
    1196 x 791 - 2M
    CIty Webinar - NE birdseye.png
    1196 x 791 - 2M
    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    edited July 2019

    Sometime back a commenter asked about creating massive cities and I came across SceneCity on the internet. It looked interesting but it was a Blender plugin and I don't use Blender as I found it's interface cumbersome. Earlier this week I decided to give it a try now that Blender 2.8 is available with a more "user friendly" interface. My early impressions:

    1. Blender is free but SceneCity is not (its cost is similar to buying Stonemason's Urban Sprawl 2 and 3 at full price).
    2. Blender 2.8 is easier to use but still complex. It has lot's of feature and some are context specific, so they may be hidden based on other choices you have made (e.g., baking textures only shows up if you pick one specific renderer). It's like learning to use Daz Studio or Photoshop, a time investment is needed.
    3. The SceneCity documentation is sufficient but sparse and also assumes you know Blender. I've had to do a lot of Google searches to figure out how to do Blender things.
    4. The plugin is easy to install. It is a node based system that you assemble like you would create a material in Daz Studio's Shader Mixer. Fairly easy to follow along the tutorial to set up your first city.
    5. There are two creation styles. One uses cubic buildings that are randomly sized and rotated and can overlap (which is actually fine as it gives greater structure variety). The buildings can be automatically placed along roads that are created; these roads have curves but no intersections. The other style uses building models (a starting set comes with SceneCity) and can be automatically placed on a rectangular road grid with intersections that the program will also create. These two styles are mutually exclusive.
    6. Blender can render the scene but you'll have to learn how. One rendering method  is similar to 3DL (Eevee) and another to Iray (Cycles). You have to learn how to position cameras and create/set lights. I'm finding the cameras to be much harder to work with than with Daz Studio as the viewport is manipulated differently than the cameras (they use two different styles of controls). I've figured out the cameras but not the lighting, so have yet to make a good render in Blender.
    7. You can export to Daz Studio. The first creation style is pretty straightforward as the mesh is low res. The second creation style has a lot more polys, and even though in Blender the buildings are mostly instances, when exported they become individual geometry (one .obj file I created was over 5GB! Daz choked on that).
    8. I have yet to figure out how to bake the textures SceneCity creates so they export as well. I've used DS shaders after import.

    Here's one example scene using the first creation method (cubic buildings). Building creation took a few seconds in SceneCity. Imported into DS and Iray shaders added:

     

    Here's a larger city made with the same creation method (cubic) imported into DS. To give a sense of scale, in the foreground is one block from Urban Sprawl 3:

    This is likely of narrow interest so I'm not sure how much I'll post on "how to" but I will show some rendered results as I learn more.

    Scene CIty 04-2.png
    1200 x 900 - 1M
    Scene CIty 04-3.png
    1200 x 600 - 934K
    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • NovicaNovica Posts: 22,484

    Way to go Rich! 

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507

    Thanks Novica!

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    edited July 2019

    Played some more with SceneCity and had success with the second creation style. It was not knowing Blender that gave me issues before. I still haven't figured out the lighting but I can use Gimp to lighten the renders so they look better.

    Here is an image using the second creation method (grid). It uses buildings that come with SceneCity that look pretty good in my opinion. As with the first method, it only took seconds for the roads and then the city to be created. A lot faster than with the hand-built city I posted recently.

    (click images for larger views)

     

    This is another view of the same city but closer to the buildings. The roads are populated with street and traffic lights and some other street elements.

     

    The open lots are there because they are defined by the program as residential and industrial regions and no buildings were assigned to them. That's the next thing I will be trying.

    City Grid 04.png
    1920 x 1080 - 2M
    City Grid 04a.png
    1920 x 1080 - 2M
    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • Richard, did you use Urban Sprawl 2 and/or 3 among the sets you used in your city scenes?

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507

    Yes, I used both. I placed one each of the 22 Urban Sprawl 2 buildings in three blocks near the river. I used all five of the Urban Sprawl 3 blocks plus an instance of one of them to cover six adjacent blocks. That was to form the downtown section. See images. The US3 street structure doesn't  match up with River Front's but for distant views with intervening buildings it doesn't matter. If I was going to do a closer view, I would take steps to handle that.

    US2 location.png
    1000 x 1300 - 2M
    US3 location.png
    1000 x 1300 - 2M
  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507
    edited July 2019

    More progress with SceneCity. I had to learn some modeling to make a house. The size isn't right and they are overly simple but it shows how they fill in the residential lots. Not knowing Blender is what hinders me the most but there's plenty of videos on line to figure it out. I'm also keeping good notes. Imported objects from Daz should work too but I haven't tried that yet.

    City Grid 06 with res.png
    1920 x 1080 - 3M
    Post edited by RGcincy on
  • KnittingmommyKnittingmommy Posts: 7,919

    That looks interesting. I hadn't heard of SceneCity until you posted about it here. I do use Blender from time to time. It has gotten easier to use over the last few iterations. I might consider getting SceneCity in the future. I'd be interested to see what you do with it if you add things like grass and plants and stuff. It looks promising.

    It's really easy to export from DS and import into Blender. The materials might be messed up a little as some things you might have to fix the alpha channel. Things with an opacity map are the biggest culprits. You might have to go into the node editor and change the alpha to color links to color to color links. I think that fixes the most common material issues between the two programs.

  • RGcincyRGcincy Posts: 2,507

    Thanks for the import tips @Knittingmommy. I'm finding Blender not that bad this time around, just a lot to learn as with any multi-feature program.

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