[UE4] Mountainside Road Environment

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Ali_Youssef triangle
Heya polycounters, this is my first polycount topic, so be nice !

I've been wanting to create a foggy forest scene for a while now, so here are my current shots after about a week of work:



Mainly used speedtree, zbrush (3ds max for bases), and substance painter.
All materials are created from B2M using textures from textures.com, but I'm planning to substance them up later, if needs be.

Honestly guys, I've been lurking on this site for a while now, and I'd love some of that glorious polycount critique.
My current plan is to make this scene a playable/walkable environment, so obviously need to focus on optimizing it, right now I'm getting around 25 fps on my gtx 970, which is not a great sign.

I've used LODs, foliage (and rock) culling, 1k textures with rgb channels used for roughness/height/ao, (and unlike the screenshots) removed shadows from dynamic lights, and switched to the standard bloom.
The issue seems to be the translucency on the trees, and a few frames coming from the moonlight shadows (might get rid of those and darken the scene instead).

Other than that, I'm stumped. I've fiddled with the gpu profiler, and apparently lighting is the main issue here, so might switch from DFAO to baked lighting, even though that'll take ages for all the trees I have (around 50k), fog doesn't seem to matter too much (2-3 fps).
Any other tips would be extremely appreciated.

Here's another shot of a blocked out cabin that I'll be working on next (over-exposed for now due to lack of lighting).



And of course, some of the assets I used for the curious lot:



Thank you in advance for responds or even lurks !

Replies

  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 2
    That is so godamned cool. Great work on the atmosphere/lighting/layout!
     <3  <3 <3 :o

    As for optimization, while I can imagine DFAO taking up some it shouldn't be taking up that much. What's your occlusion max distance set to? A large setting there can eat up performance. Also make sure your updated to the newest UE4 version, as DFAO got a nice performance update recently. I doubt it's the directional light shadow (moonshadow) eating up much.

    As for the tree leaves, make sure you're using the masked mode for tree leaves rather than translucency, as that will cost a big hit. The next thing to do is actually "cut around" the leaves/needles themselves in the mesh. You don't want large empty sections of "transparency" sitting on a leaf sheet, as that will tank some performance, even if you have to add more polys it's worth it. 
  • Chidambhar_Swaroop
    Well, I don't know so much optimization and stuff (Newbie), but the overall scene looks very nice...
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    The next thing to do is actually "cut around" the leaves/needles themselves in the mesh. You don't want large empty sections of "transparency" sitting on a leaf sheet, as that will tank some performance, even if you have to add more polys it's worth it. 
    Yes ! That's exactly the kind of thing I was missing, thank you !

    I've gained a few fps now, up to 40, I'll probably remove some trees and fix those damn bushes a bit more later, but it's loads better now, so cheers for that, kind of ashamed I couldn't come up with that :/

    Here's the shader complexity before and after if anyone's interested:

    Before:


    After:


    Well, I don't know so much optimization and stuff (Newbie), but the overall scene looks very nice...
    Thank you !
    I couldn't ask for more than a nice comment  :D
  • Klawd
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    Klawd polygon
    Nice scene @Ali_Youssef! Can I ask what you changed in the before/after shots? I think the performance problems are mainly caused by all that opacity. When you have transparent/translucent objects the engine has to render that and what's behind it, so overlapping these objects can choke the performance quite easily.
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    Klawd said:
    Nice scene @Ali_Youssef! Can I ask what you changed in the before/after shots? I think the performance problems are mainly caused by all that opacity. When you have transparent/translucent objects the engine has to render that and what's behind it, so overlapping these objects can choke the performance quite easily.
    I changed the leaf meshes from a square polygon to a shape representing the actual needles, had to stick to one polygon still, because the translucency to polygon trade-off didn't increase my frame rate (actually even lowered it) even by switching from 1 polygon to 2.
    I'm thinking about baking down larger branches into textures, which should decrease the overlapping. maybe for Lod1+ ?
    I remember SpeedTree having an option to do that, I'll need to fiddle around in it some more.

    Thank you for your comment !
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    Hey guys, got some new shots from the scene !
    The scene is basically finished, but again, any critique is absolutely appreciated.
    I'm planning to create a little video, then move on to a new scene.

    Thank you for viewing my work, and I hope you like it !


  • Martoon
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    Martoon triangle
    Your individual materials and assets and materials are very well executed. While I enjoy the prospect of the dark shillouetes in the forest night screenshots. I think if you increased your skylight or ambient cubemaps influence in the lighting, you could see more of the detail and depth in your night lighting. 
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    @Martoon Thank you for your input !
    I did previously try to increase the light as the forest looks too dark, however it kind of smears the scene and the contrast seems lower.
    What do you think ?



    I'll also try to make it a bit lighter in post
  • Maximum-Dev
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    Maximum-Dev Polycount Sponsor
    Hi Ali,

    Film tonemapper introduces lots of clipping in blacks and whites by default. I think you should try to pull back some dark levels in so you'd get away from having ultra dark shadows instead of increasing the skylight intensity.
    Film tonemapper default settings are far from realistic.
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    @Maximum-Dev
    Thank you ! I'm actually in the process of working on that (post process, vfx, sound, video)

    I'm a huge fan of your work, by the way  :D
  • aclund3
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    aclund3 polycounter lvl 2
    Awesome atmosphere and perspective/depth work. I have a few critiques about the cabin that may benefit.

    Exterior
    Light is bleeding out from under the deck, should be quite dark under there. Also the stair steps seem to be missing their stringers, or understructure. They look like they're floating. The log structure for the cabin should also go all the way to the ground.

    Also, it would help if you could get some variation in the logs. Depends on how you put it together, but I might try making a log mesh with a bit of variation on each side, so you could use the same mesh, but rotate it to get a more realistic feel. Trees taper in the real world, so a constant diameter cylinder doesn't quite work here if you're after realism.

    The beam above the columns on the walkway should be deeper (i.e., taller) to better match the proportions of the columns.  Or alternatively, if they were left undersized like this, you could have them sag a bit in the middle like they would IRL (assuming the cabin has been around for awhile and things have 'settled'). 

    I might add some light from the windows to emphasize the chimney a bit and give some interest to that wall which is quite lost in shadow at the moment.

    Interior
    The door and window heads seem a little short proportionally, might be the camera angle, but check your dimensions against standard sizes there. A door header should be somewhere around 6'8" (sorry, metric is hard).

    Whatever map is being used for the height info is a little strong in nearly all of your materials. It looks fine until it gets light skimming across the face, then it gets quite bumpy. Too bumpy.

    The roof understructure isn't quite right.  Every shingle is its own piece that needs to rest on something. Do an image search on 'skip sheathing' to see what a traditional framework for shingles looks like.

    You're really on a great track so keep at it and tweaking things.  Just an FYI, I had a lot of critiques in here, but I wouldn't take the time for a critique like this if it wasn't worth it :)
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    @aclund3
    Thank you so much for these awesome tips !
    The light bleed came from shadowless fake bounce lights which I've gotten rid of, as for everything else, I'll get working right away

    Thank you again, that was really the kind of critique I was looking for, I really need to get better at modelling  :D
    If there are any other things to fix in the scene, I'd really love to know, even if it's after the project is done so I at least don't repeat the mistakes later.

    Cheers !
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    There we go, then, my final update as the video is finally done !
    I've had loads of fun fiddling with the sequencer, but I feel like my camera angles are a bit out-of-place, I suppose some practice will hopefully make it better with newer projects.
    Thank you guys so much for all the help and tips, I really do appreciate it.

    Here are the video and artstation links, I'll still gladly take critique as to avoid any problems later on:
    Youtube video
    Artstation

    Cheers, guys !
  • Maximum-Dev
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    Maximum-Dev Polycount Sponsor
    For exteriors I think you could still use lots of ground cover i.e pebbles, rocks, sticks, more grass etc. making it look more dense.
    For future projects don't forget to play with SSAO intensity and fade out distance. You generally want a high intensity and distance.
    You can also use masks on your lights to fake some imperfections/dirtiness on the light bulbs.

    Lastly, you're so brave to use Sequencer! Wanted to use it, it was as if I tried to read ancient alien scripts written with unknown instruments on an alien element which's been eroded for an eternity.  :/
  • Ali_Youssef
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    Ali_Youssef triangle
    I'll definitely keep that in mind !
    The forest does indeed seem empty now that you can see what's in there  :/

    And hahaha, the sequencer does take some getting used to I suppose, but I actually really liked it which helped getting over how difficult it is.
    It's certainly a new set of skills we need to get, but I think it'll be worth it, 4.17 added a few features making it easier so that should help

    Thank you for the nice words  :)
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