As I am now producing dozens and dozens of test renders I thought it would be instructive to post a few in this blog in order to keep track of progress and make some technical observations. These are ~not~ finished renders – simply work-in-progress.
The first (silent) video here is a test using the UE4.26.2 water system – specifically getting the wave settings right for shore waves and enabling procedural foam generation. Whilst there are many attractive features my feeling is that the system is too stylised and processor-heavy at the moment for my purposes (especially using the Landform spline controls – though they are very appealing). The procedural foam seems a bit flaky and hard to control, but I’m sure that will improve. Consequently I’ve elected to use the excellent WaterLine FFT approach – this is improving with every iteration and can provide some excellent results (more in next post). Waterline uses an impressive array of compute shaders, so it is nice and fast – though for best results you still need a great GPU – I’m using an RTX3090.
The other feature I was looking at here is the built-in UE volumetric clouds system – which provides very nice results in conjunction with UE sky and atmosphere, and the physically accurate modelling of Rayleigh and Mies scattering. It is tempting to use HDRI timelapse skydomes for photorealism, but I prefer the controllable parameters of this approach. Regrettably, TrueSky, which I was using before and which I think is excellent, simply doesn’t support the UE render queue feature and multiple output passes, and whilst it’s ocean system is excellent, it seems almost impossible to control any onshore/shoreline features, effectively ruling it out for use in an island scenario. Similarly, I expect this to improve in the future, so I’ll keep an eye on it.