ChalkSauce Feb 25, 2013 @ 5:02am
Volumetric light model anyone?
I've got one of the worst possible graphics cards for running SFM (Integrated Intel graphics), and thus my volumetric lighting does not work. I have not been able to find a workaround, and I doubt I will find one beyond a volumetric light model. I have no experience with creating models, and was hoping some kind soul would be generous enough to give me a Volumetric light model prop that I can use to at least simulate volumetrics.

Here is an example of what I'm looking for.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16502514/Volume%20light.jpg

I was hoping on creating some horror shorts, maybe even a short film; but doing so without volumetrics seems unlikely. Volumetrics can be such an important part of creating atmosphere as I'm sure you all know already. I know that there are a few volumetric light models already in source filmmaker, but they are of low quality, and are so narrow. They merely look like light beams shining through a window. I need something that can fill a room, or fog a street. I would be very appreciative of any assistance you can give.
Last edited by ChalkSauce; Mar 1, 2013 @ 7:14pm
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R234 Feb 26, 2013 @ 8:18pm 
So... what aspect of a volumetric light would you like to emulate, exactly? By "volumetric light models" you mean those low quality sprite light shafts used by the game's floodlights and lamps? These are okay to use perpendicular to the screen, either behind or in front of the subject, but yeah they're really narrow. What you posted a screenshot of looks like a corona. They could look like a volumetric light if placed in a light source facing the camera, but usually disappear when something passes in front. Actual fog or haze would probably be best, but it has to be built into the map as far as I know.

Alternately, if you simply disable shadows on a volumetric light, I believe it significantly reduces resources usage.
ChalkSauce Feb 26, 2013 @ 9:02pm 
You're absolutely right. The fog effect is what I'm going for. I wish I could just disable shadows and be able to use the volume lights, because I'm so used to dealing with lag anyway. But when I enable volumetric lighting, instead of producing a beam, it just makes white lines stick out of the light, and no depth is added to the light at all. It's practically a miracle I can run SFM at all. As you could imagine, it gets really frustrating when you've got this image in your head, but you just can't make it happen.. I've been trying to play with particle systems to see if I could get something going, but I just can't seem to get the effect I'm looking for.
R234 Feb 26, 2013 @ 9:29pm 
White lines? What do you mean? Could you post an image of it somewhere? Volumetric lights are supposed to work just as fine without shadows, there's just no godrays...
ChalkSauce Feb 26, 2013 @ 9:56pm 
Yeah, here you go.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16502514/♥♥♥♥♥♥%20volumetrics.jpg

Also, I can't use bloom, but that's not a big deal for me.
R234 Feb 26, 2013 @ 9:59pm 
Part of the URL was censored, I can't see the image as a result...
ChalkSauce Feb 26, 2013 @ 10:02pm 
That's my bad. Didn't know this board was censored.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16502514/volumetrics.jpg
ChalkSauce Feb 26, 2013 @ 10:02pm 
The left has volumetrics on, the right has them off.
ChalkSauce Feb 26, 2013 @ 10:22pm 
The link should be working now. For some reason the title changed back after I took the censored word out. Strange.
R234 Feb 26, 2013 @ 10:35pm 
I see...

On my end though I've been messing around in the console, and found out you can override fog with it:
http://i.imgur.com/zCgX33p.jpg

Pretty neat huh? Here's the values you have to change:

fog_override = set it to 1 to be able to edit fog.
fog_hdrcolorscale = somehow this needs to be set to 1 too.
fog_maxdensity = sets the maximum opacity of fog. 0 is none, 1 is fully opaque.
fog_start = distance at which fog begins growing denser.
fog_end = distance at which fog is the densest.
fog_color = RGB color of fog. 0 0 0 is black, 255 255 255 is white.

You can use the values I have in the screenshot as an example, then work from there. Games have been using camera relative fog like that for years now, so if your computer can't handle that I'll eat my keyboard ;P
Last edited by R234; Feb 26, 2013 @ 10:41pm
ChalkSauce Feb 27, 2013 @ 5:26pm 
That caused the white lines to disappear, but didn't actually add volume to the lights.
PalmliX Feb 28, 2013 @ 8:24am 
Yikes man... I gotta say, maybe it's time for a better graphics card? Look at all these hoops you have to jump through instead of just right clicking on a light and enabling volumetrics. Not to mention the fact that your work will also lack bloom, as well as other visual quality issues.

This is no way to be successful as an artist, the first step is always getting your tools working properly so you don't have to think about them and can just create. Either way, I wish you the best of luck.
Last edited by PalmliX; Feb 28, 2013 @ 8:26am
Pte Jack Feb 28, 2013 @ 4:30pm 
The only way I know to do this without using volumetric lights is to play reflector...

I tried to find a good model to use, but unfortuanately I don't have one in the library right now, so I used a billboard. BUT,

Using standard light I would bounce a light off an object and move that object and light as close to or as far away from the camera as I needed. The object has to be big enough to create the illusion you're trying to pass off.

then I would surround the other objects in the scene with mini lights, dimming and brightening each light to give me the desired effect.

I attempted to do the fog thing in this example, but for some reason, everytime I move my playhead, I lose the fog effect...

http://imgur.com/71ztWao (this scene uses 3 lights... One pointed directly at the billboard, one to the left of the camera and one on the other side of the shuttle to help back light the scene.) Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I thought I'd throw it in there to see if it might spark some new ideas.) Remember, you can use as many lights as you want, but only 6 (I think) can throw shadows...

The I would use a reflective surface on the billboard to pass light back into the scene and fake the volumetrics...

Not sure if this is even possible in SFM, but it has worked for me in Blender.
Last edited by Pte Jack; Feb 28, 2013 @ 4:37pm
ChalkSauce Feb 28, 2013 @ 5:01pm 
Originally posted by PalmliX:
Yikes man... I gotta say, maybe it's time for a better graphics card? Look at all these hoops you have to jump through instead of just right clicking on a light and enabling volumetrics. Not to mention the fact that your work will also lack bloom, as well as other visual quality issues.

This is no way to be successful as an artist, the first step is always getting your tools working properly so you don't have to think about them and can just create. Either way, I wish you the best of luck.

I'm saving up for a proper gaming pc. I've got some ♥♥♥♥♥♥ 'all in one' pc someone bought me when I was like seventeen, so I can't simply upgrade the graphics card unfortunately. But I don't think bloom and volumetrics means so much that you shouldn't do anything with SFM at all. I think that's an extreme perspective. Besides, I can still make some sexy looking shots with the proper lighting, I just won't have any realistic fog or volume lights until I can find a workaround.


Originally posted by Pte Jack:
The only way I know to do this without using volumetric lights is to play reflector...

I tried to find a good model to use, but unfortuanately I don't have one in the library right now, so I used a billboard. BUT,

Using standard light I would bounce a light off an object and move that object and light as close to or as far away from the camera as I needed. The object has to be big enough to create the illusion you're trying to pass off.

then I would surround the other objects in the scene with mini lights, dimming and brightening each light to give me the desired effect.

I attempted to do the fog thing in this example, but for some reason, everytime I move my playhead, I lose the fog effect...

http://imgur.com/71ztWao (this scene uses 3 lights... One pointed directly at the billboard, one to the left of the camera and one on the other side of the shuttle to help back light the scene.) Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I thought I'd throw it in there to see if it might spark some new ideas.) Remember, you can use as many lights as you want, but only 6 (I think) can throw shadows...

The I would use a reflective surface on the billboard to pass light back into the scene and fake the volumetrics...

Not sure if this is even possible in SFM, but it has worked for me in Blender.

That's really more of a light orb effect. I'm trying to get more of a vaguely menacing mist, but your idea could work for an effect I've been trying to produce, so thank you for your input.

Is there anyway I could take the volume light models from SFM and edit them? Or is it possible to change the lighting setup altogether to allow volumetrics?
Last edited by ChalkSauce; Feb 28, 2013 @ 5:01pm
Pte Jack Feb 28, 2013 @ 7:15pm 
Could always use a particle system and shine your light through that... ie a smog or debris dust cloud, etc...
Last edited by Pte Jack; Feb 28, 2013 @ 7:15pm
ChalkSauce Mar 1, 2013 @ 12:28am 
Originally posted by Pte Jack:
Could always use a particle system and shine your light through that... ie a smog or debris dust cloud, etc...

I tried that, but unfortunately there was no interaction between the light and the fog. I think I've figured out a particle system setup that I can use as fog, but the volume lighting is still an issue. I also found a lakeside fog model. It moves too fast, so it isn't very good for video, but I used it for this pic.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16502514/Da%20Bear000035.png

It doesn't look incredibly terrible when still. I've been messing around with a particle system to simulate the fog, but I'm having trouble slowing down how fast the fog moves around. Currently I've got the density right, but it's just moving around to fast to be fog. I need to slow it down to a crawl for it to look anything like fog. I suppose I could just freeze the particle system and have it be static, but I think a very slow moving fog looks better. If someone could point me to the right attributes to tinker with, that would be awesome.
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Date Posted: Feb 25, 2013 @ 5:02am
Posts: 16