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Exclusive [Blender Plugin] Physical Starlight And Atmosphere v1.3.1 / v1.4.1

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UPDATE (19.06.2021)

Physical Starlight and Atmosphere 1.4 beta is out!

We are very excited to release version 1.4 beta! It comes with one major feature -Clouds!

We have also fully reworked the light scattering system, added useful features and fixed a number of bugs. Note that this is a Beta release, meaning that it is not fully optimized and tested. Full documentation, changelog and video tutorial is in progress.

About​

"Physical Starlight and Atmosphere" is a full outdoors lighting simulator that takes inspiration of 'sandbox' game worlds and editors, bringing visual consistency between every object in the scene.

Apart from our Sun, this addon can simulate any other star. Sky is not only static sky dome, but the whole atmosphere - from ground to the space and beyond. Calculations are based on physical properties of how light is interacting with gaseous medium.

How does it work?

This addon fills your Blender scene with air (or any gas of your liking) where density at the ground level is the highest and in the space - lowest, then a Star of your choice illuminates the air using physics laws - easy as that!

Lighting is calculated based on Rayleigh theory of light scattering through gaseous and liquid medium. Most critical part of the calculation is the fog. Like in real world, it changes based on altitude of observer.

Although my work is based on physical functions and research, my usual approach is to stick with what looks right. That's why there are some 'artistic' liberties taken (or rather, manually fitted values based on reference images) to make it stand out from the crowd.

Why procedural skies?​

Industry is still using good old HDRI light probe method to do outdoor lighting, and for a good reason - it is the simplest way to simulate realistic lighting conditions, without worrying that it will look wrong. After all it is a 360° snapshot of a real environment.

HDRI probes unfortunately are not able to capture one crucial aspect - the fact that sky is dynamic. Sky is not just a membrane of the imaginary rim of the sky, it has volume. Sky is atmosphere and atmosphere is a physical medium consisting of a blend of gases. Sky literally starts just outside of your eyeball and extends to the outer space. Sunlight travels through this medium illuminating, scattering and absorbing in it.

procedural skies to the rescue!

Procedural skies are more common in games industry, and there the industry have developed way past the static HDRIs, skyboxes or skydomes. Just take a look at the
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During the years I have been working with, probably, every existing atmosphere system, starting from the good old
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method, to
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,
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, and
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. Each of them have their strengths and, unfortunately, also weaknesses. In fact, none of the existing methods proved versatile enough worth my time making an addon for Blender.

So I decided to develop a method from (mostly) scratch - The starlight and skylight system I wish existed!

and also...


I have helped my friends in film, games and animation industry with sky rendering and they have always told me that I should do this for a living! Well now is the time when I feel old enough to stop working for others and start working on what I (and, apparently, others) believe the most.

I have been freelancing all my life, I survive from salary to salary and this has impacted my focus on what I love the most - developing stuff for Blender.

Support me and you will have quicker responses from me and faster development speed for upcoming versions and new addons.

My vision is to do this as my main source of income so I can continue making great tools for Blender.

products​

While looking for similar products, I noticed that most of them use one of my listed methods above. All of the products contain not only the sky rendering, but the whole rendering engine and materials system. But considering that Blender itself does that for free, I think it is a fair comparison.

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for architects come the closest with the features and it will cost you € 1499 for standard license and € 2999 for Pro.

Octane Render uses old Nishita's (1993/1996) method. $699 a year

VRay from ChaosGroup has
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. It is using Hosek-Wilkie sky, Preetham and CIE (clear and overcast), all of these are analytical sky models and tied to an observer on ground. Price for the rendering package - €340 a year.

Autodesk Arnold plugin has
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, and again it uses same Hosek-Wilkie model, and it costs €685 a year.

In any case "Physical Starlight and Atmosphere" + Blender 2.8 is a pretty damn good value!

Who is this for?

I made it for myself. I have high standards, and I value my time. At one point in your expertise, you find yourself optimizing your workflow to be more effective. So I created the addon with simplicity and rapid deployment in mind.
Amateurs will love eye candy it delivers one button away! Pros will appreciate high customization options in the UI. Shader node enthusiasts will surely dissect the world node setup - make it yours. And look for 'Easter eggs' I left there.

You and your computer will appreciate the low video RAM consumption, instant preview and ultra-fast rendering.

Features
  • All future updates included in the price
  • Visually accurate mathematical model
  • Physical stars (included in v1.1)
  • Works with Blender 2.8 - Cycles and Eevee
  • Made for PBR and HDR workflow
  • Fully procedural - can simulate unlimited number of sky conditions
  • Super high dynamic range, use with tone mapping (filmic, or aces)
  • Variable sun size and brightness
  • Variable atmosphere density and height
  • Procedural ground plane with variable height
  • Earth shadow (belt of Venus)
  • Accurate sun radiance model based on blackbody radiance theory
  • Unlocked viewer position - can simulate conditions at any altitude
  • Cheaper than having a full HDD with high resolution HDRIs for every possible sky condition
  • Rapid results - one click away to a beautiful render
  • Consistency - sunlight, sky and fog share the same code and parameters
  • Performance - load and render faster than HDRI textures
  • Small memory footprint
  • Flexibility - simulate any planetary weather conditions
  • It`s yours - free to dissect the setup, re-arrange it for your needs.
  • Render and export your sky to any HDRI texture format for use in games or other 3D packages. Heck, you can even render a set of spherical panoramas and sell in a HDRI pack, making more money than you spent on this addon.

What for?

  • rapid prototyping
  • concept art
  • night shots
  • high altitude, such as aviation, renders (WIP)
  • low-earth orbit renders
  • architectural visualization with full day/night cycle
  • automotive renders
  • nature renders
  • indoor renders where skylight enters through windows
  • simulate how it might look inside gas-giants as Saturn or Jupiter
  • exoplanet renders, make Sun a red giant or blue dwarf, etc.
  • Tatooine sunsets
v1.3.1


v1.4.1 (Beta)
 

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