Author Topic: Stellar enhancements  (Read 75263 times)

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I can say I am not very happy with the way Adhara is coming out. I really like the original image that I posted earlier along with its companion, but in-game it seems like there is a high loss of detail (unless I am mistaken since Adhara is much smaller in-game than the original picture).

As for the flares... I assume you all mean the light rays emitted by the star. I never meant for those to be actual flares, similar to coronal mass ejections observed from the Sun, but just a lens effect similar to the way stars appear in Freelancer. However, when I look at videos of solar storms, raging flares on the Sun can extend to distances of one solar radius and much more. These flares dance around the surface of the star and are definitely not static. More surprisingly they do resemble the light rays on my images, so I can see why you all would say they do not look right as stationary flares.

Here's an example of a typical solar storm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xiMmvP9nq0&mode=related&search= (Typical is an understatement, as one of the CMEs in this video holds the title as the most powerful flare on record)

I could set up an animation by moving these rays around the surface of Adhara and save each image as a separate file, but I don't know what good a large animation would do for FS. If you all have any suggestions for giving the stars a more realistic appearance let me know. If you have ideas yourself, then feel free to do as you please with my files.

 

Offline Mobius

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Solar rays(or beams?) should be short.

 

Offline ni1s

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You might want to check out Celestia. You probably heard of it, but I can't help myself mentioning it every time someone talks about "stellar ambiance". And while you're at it, download the 2 million stars database (brace for some hefty startup times).

It's hard not the be at awe of the beauty that is Space.

P.S, I do recommend any "fan of space" to check out Celestia and The Celestia Motherlode, great stuff.

 

Offline Mobius

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I have Celestia and I can say without a doubt that the program is useful.

 
Thanks, but I already have the program and the 2 million stars database installed.  ;) It is a great program, but IMO it needs more emphasis on the extrasolar regions of the Milky Way. For example, the stars do get a little repetitive.... they are all essentially the same (except Altair), but with different colors. Nevertheless I really enjoy the program. Thanks for mentioning it.

As for decreasing the radius of the solar flare, even the solar flares in my image of Adhara are smaller than the ones produced by the Sun. What I was getting at with the light rays, which is what I intended them to be, was for this effect to give the notion that a star is very luminous. Until now, I realized they look very similar to solar flares, which can be just as long and longer than the rays I have produced for Adhara. Not only this, but Adhara is a supergiant. It does not look like the Sun because it is not even in the same luminosity class, let alone spectral class. This star can be on the order of 100,000 times more luminous than the Sun; just take my description of Deneb for example. At 400 AU, the supergiant will appear just as bright as the Sun would from Earth. Now imagine how bright Deneb would appear if the supergiant were to be the same angular diameter as the Sun. Since I cannot change the brightness settings for the star in-game, I was planning on making supergiants have large, dazzling flares to give them a luminous appearance. If you all do not like this idea, then I'll see what I can do.

 

Offline Admiral Nelson

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The trouble is that the rays rotate with the the star itself.  The star looks "painted" on the background in mission, as one would expect the length of the "rays" to be constantly vary as the observer's point of view shifts.
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Offline Raven2001

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PLaying the devils advocate here... I do like the long beams\flares\rays, whatever u want to call them :P

For some stars at least, the whiter ones, with a gradual diminish in ray size as the stars aproach the red color

Granted, that white screen effect is getting aged... a lens flare effect would make it all look better ;)
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Offline S-99

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Who says any rays have to be added. I mean, a star having rays is really more of just an interpretation of how the sun broadcasts light. The stars are more like street lights at night, they have a spherical glow of light that gets dimmer according to the square of the distance the light has to go. But, the thing to i really meant here was the spherical glow aspect of light, not the rays part. The existing stars in the media vps are completely awesome, they don't look all ****y with rays, they're just like normal stars. No to the rays, and you could still have you system accurate stars as well. Something that might be cool to do is mess with the lighting on the skyboxes of the mission, or just make a mission with a supergiant brighter than usual to show off that you're in a system with an uber star. But, i mean **** the rays, if anything, go for that spherical glow thing.
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Offline Raven2001

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Rays or not rays... its all a matter of personal preference

Some people, like you, like that realism factor, other ppl, like me like the eyecandy factor... so no need to argue bout that
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Offline Admiral Nelson

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FS2 SCP does support lens flares, perhaps this functionality could be exploited to acheive the desired effect?
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Since I know that there are people that are already content with the media vp stars, I'll go ahead and provide the RGB color values for each star that is in the Wiki, in case someone would like to make a mission using one of these extra stars. That way nothing is forced upon any FS user, and they can have realistic stars with their correct hue based on their luminosity and spectral class.

If I knew how, I would change the brightness settings for each FS mission depending on what star is in the system. By far, Deneb would have the most blinding scenery, yet I am sure users will find it very annoying to fly around in such a luminous environment. It depends on what you all prefer.

You are completely right about a star's spherical emission, and I am all for realism as well. But I did say that I would like to see realism with an artistic touch. I do not want to get into why I believe there needs to be an artistic touch applied to the media vps as I do not want to start a debate over it, but no star should be exactly like another. Stars have differing luminosity types, spectral types, variability, rotation rates, radii, age, etc. and each one of these plays a part in defining the appearance of a star. I just think the uniqueness of a star should be applied, even if it slightly stretches the boundaries of realism such as visible corona and stellar surface. But as Raven2001 said, its all a matter of personal preference, and I want to make everyone content.

EDIT: Lense flares sound like a great idea, only if I knew where to find those files. I would also like to see how I could possibly make the "rays" rotate with the user. The problem is these "rays", which are pretty much flares, are a part of the corona and so this means I would have to rotate the corona as well. I'll think of something...

« Last Edit: March 06, 2007, 06:47:17 pm by m2258734a »

 

Offline Herra Tohtori

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Okay, my thoughts.

Stars have a corona, which does have inherent structure from the solar wind and magnetic fields etc, but that structure is way more detailed than the ray beam thingys in the latest shots here. Something like this would work much better as coronal detail:



Also, if the ray beam thingys are supposed to be diffraction visual effect, they are too few and too bulky to be that either. Bright lights do generate twinkly "beams" in optic devices such as telescopes, binoculars, human eye and car windshield, mostly due to diffraction, but baking that statically into textures is not really a good idea since those effects are, as was said, variable depending on various things such as how dilated your pupils happen to be or how much you squint your eyes. However, it's an interesting proposition that the lens flare  system could be used to create more realistic diffraction rays from stars. I don't have any idea on how to do it, though...

Anyway, the solar glare system used at the moment is rather borked IMHO. Looking at sun doesn't really make everything brighter - in fact it makes things look darker except for the star itself. At the moment, if you look at a star past a capital ship (ie. you see the shadow side of the cap ship), the cap ship magically becomes more visible when solar glare lights up everything. It would be better to make it so that looking at a star activates a relatively large bright glare texture on the background, while reducing the overall brightness.

EDIT: Also, practically there is no way to realistically depict the brightness of supergiants*, we might just as well say that FS2 fighter cockpits shield the pilot's eyes from exess light if necessary and automatically adjust the brightness to non-hazardous (although still possibly glaring) levels.


*exept playing a message at mission start: <Alpha 1 was killed by spectral class B superciant.>
« Last Edit: March 06, 2007, 07:04:52 pm by Herra Tohtori »
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Offline neoterran

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wow, that's really nice example there, Herra.
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Offline Admiral Nelson

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The trouble also is if you look back at the table stuff I posted earlier, all of the stars in the game already have a luminosity value of 1.0, the maximum it can be.  There is no place luminosity can go but down, which will be useful for background red dwarfs, but doesn't really help us out here....
If a man consults whether he is to fight, when he has the power in his own hands, it is certain that his opinion is against fighting.

 
Seems like this "stellar enhancements" proposition is slowly going downhill....     :sigh:

Thanks for mentioning the luminosity values, I completely overlooked them. This also answers the question I was going to ask Herra. However, even if increasing the luminosity of a star did work, I don't think realism would have any effect on why the brightness shouldn't be increased to simulate the high luminosity of a supergiant. If the luminosity of a supergiant were to actually be taken into consideration, Deneb would have to appear from Cygnus Prime about 1/3 the size of the Sun as viewed from Earth. Since Deneb is about 160,000 times more luminous than the Sun, Cygnus Prime would have to reside in the circumstellar habitable zone of radius 400 AU. Seeing how large Deneb appears in that first mission, we know that Cygnus Prime is way too close to be inhabitable.

All missions in FS with a supergiant that appears just as large as the Sun would from Earth or larger would roast any ship. It was just something Volition never took into consideration. Regardless, that death message would be hilarious <Alpha 1 was killed by Betelgeuse>.

That corona effect is great, something I can't produce myself. This is the problem; I'm limited with my applications, so I can only work with so much. As I have said before, feel free to take my images of the Adhara system and enhance them to your liking. So far, your image looks more realistic than any star I have produced yet. My stars, while based on a star's spectral class and luminosity, are basically fantasy and made to be eyecandy and not totally realistic celestial objects. You can say that Freelancer was my motivation, but I think I took it to the next level with those light ray/solar flares. This is the first time that I have ever produced an image using an application that I actually think looks promising, and the first time I have ever made a contribution to the FS community that does not involve error reporting.

I'm still new at this, so if you would like to improve my work then please feel free.

EDIT: Just wondering, has anyone checked to see what the double layer Adhara files look like?
« Last Edit: March 06, 2007, 08:29:18 pm by m2258734a »

 

Online taylor

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Few more tidbits from me...

 - The "white-out" effect can be disabled.  It's not a global thing though, just per sun, as specified in stars.tbl.

 - Both the sun bitmap and sun glow bitmaps can be animated.  You can use ANI or EFF there, but a static version of any effect is loaded first, so if a static bitmap exists then it will use that instead of an animated version.  Most of the time this is just wasteful though, since those are texture resources which would otherwise be put to much better use for ship textures or other effects.  Perhaps in the future we can make some changes that allow better use of this without wasting texture resources in the process.

 - Think of the sun glow not as coming from the sun itself, but as an effect on your canopy.  Perhaps that will help everyone better understand how best to make use of it, or not make use of it as the case may be.

 

Offline neoterran

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why don't you and herra work together on getting these stars the right color and have nice halos. I think you might learn a bit in the process too.
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Offline Herra Tohtori

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- Both the sun bitmap and sun glow bitmaps can be animated.  You can use ANI or EFF there, but a static version of any effect is loaded first, so if a static bitmap exists then it will use that instead of an animated version.  Most of the time this is just wasteful though, since those are texture resources which would otherwise be put to much better use for ship textures or other effects.  Perhaps in the future we can make some changes that allow better use of this without wasting texture resources in the process.

Glow bitmap could benefit from being animated, but the bitmap itself should not be animated. The scale of stellar phenomena is so big that from any reasonable distance the star looks essentially static in FS2 mission timeframe. It takes days to take the pictures then linked into those fierce animations seen in science TV shows about sun. Many of those coronal mass ejections and solar prominences are much larger than Earth itself - it takes time from stuff to be ejected from Sun, reach the top altitude and then drop back to the surface. Only if the mission was located on a very low orbit around a very dim red supergiant which has a low surface luminocity and thus is not actually that brilliant when seen from near. That is the only way to be near enough a star to actually see the slow changes in the photosphere detail in real-time. Otherwise it's like watching grass to grow.


Quote
- Think of the sun glow not as coming from the sun itself, but as an effect on your canopy.  Perhaps that will help everyone better understand how best to make use of it, or not make use of it as the case may be.


Or as a result of how the visual system (eyes and visual cortex) behave when they have to handle overly bright objects.


As to producing the star images, it's not really very complex process. I did that sample star with GIMP in less than half an hour. Supernova lighting effect was very essential in creating that image. If you want I can make a detailed basic guide on how I did that image with GIMP, so it can be modified to create differently coloured stars.
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Offline Raven2001

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and I want to make everyone content.

Dont even try that... some1 wise once said to me that trying to make every1 happy is an exercise in futility... the wise man can post at will to claim credit for the sentence :P

Just follow what your taste tells ya... if you prefer more fantasiac scenery, continue doing so, its looking good so far, with very little stuff to improve. Some1 else will eventually make a more realistic set for those that prefer that way :)

Looking at sun doesn't really make everything brighter - in fact it makes things look darker except for the star itself. At the moment, if you look at a star past a capital ship (ie. you see the shadow side of the cap ship), the cap ship magically becomes more visible when solar glare lights up everything. It would be better to make it so that looking at a star activates a relatively large bright glare texture on the background, while reducing the overall brightness.


A lil correction there. The main idea is right, but what it really does is augment the contrast between lit areas and unlit areas, no just between the scenery and the star itself. That means that everything well lit, will be even more lit, while the shadowed areas and poorly lie areas will become even darker... this is called the exposure effect btw.

To get a better idea of what it does, just take a screenie of FS, slap it into PS, duplicate the layer and set the duplicate into overlay mode :)



Yeah, I know you were waiting for a very nice sig, in which I was quoting some very famous scientist or philosopher... guess what?!? I wont indulge you...

Why, you ask? What, do I look like a Shivan to you?!?


Raven is a god.

 

Offline Herra Tohtori

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Very well...


Here, a star is behind the Apollo.



Here the star is visible.




Finally, here's a slightly modified version of the first image (with the star behind Apollo). Only change was uniform brightness increase of 76 in GIMP. Contrast was not altered. Is there any difference to the picture where the star is visible?



I must say that unless there is some pretty heavy evidence to the contrary, it looks to me that what the solar glare effect does is simply increase the brightness temporarily. With higher ambient/emissive light values the effect is even more prominent, I play with no_emissive_light and ambient_factor 18 and it still is visible.


Oh and by the way, talking about diffraction effect... :drevil: A little experiment. Might be useful for some weapon effects in some form too (light balls, anyone?). Should probably find some way to make it less hectic and more calm, but it's a start...

There are three things that last forever: Abort, Retry, Fail - and the greatest of these is Fail.