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lighting a solarsystem. dynamic or static?

currently i try to light a star system which has a radius of ~4km. dynamic lighting leads to numerous problems. like no shadows in distance, flickering point light that clips away and this error message that comes when compiling light.: Actor casts dynamic shadows and has a BoundsScale greater than 1! This will have a large performance hit Serious performance warning... either reduce BoundsScale to be

how would i set up this scene? i have currently one point light in the middle of the world. should i go for static lighting?

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asked Oct 08 '14 at 01:28 PM in Rendering

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[PB]Aphexx
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2 answers: sort voted first

No need to change bounds scale, increase Dynamic Shadow Distance in Cascaded Shadows options to 50k or even 100k if you have to.

And i forgot to mention, use a movable directional light, point light wont work for this.

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answered Oct 08 '14 at 01:31 PM

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Jacky
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avatar image [PB]Aphexx Oct 08 '14 at 03:19 PM

thx man! yes, i knew about the cascaded shadow settings, but also knew they are not present in point lights, using a point light is inevitable since i need, to light all stars from the center of the system. what to do now?

avatar image Jacky Oct 08 '14 at 03:33 PM

Oh, when you said star system i thought about a star and its planets. If you are making stars then you dont need to light them at all, just use emissive materials and they'll have their own light. :)

avatar image [PB]Aphexx Oct 08 '14 at 03:56 PM

ok, yes. specular reflections in oceans could still be achieved by an additional light i assume? but how would you achieve shadowed planet rings?

the system needs to be very versatile and modular. so painting vertex colors on shadowed areas to mask them, or painting textures dark is a bit too low level.

also i have a 3d ship that can fly behind stars and needs to be shadowed... i'm puzzled.

avatar image Jacky Oct 08 '14 at 04:27 PM

Yeah, i mean emissive for stars only. You can use opaque and lit materials for planets but you still need to use a directional light. What you can do is, set the rotation of the light depending on the closest star the player is, and that will require some blueprinting. And also disable cast shadows for star meshes.

avatar image [PB]Aphexx Oct 08 '14 at 04:40 PM

ah yes thank you. was my fault. i meant planetary system not starsystem haha. ok. i seems that the use of a directional light is inevitable.

perhaps i should go for a hybrid solution. using one large point light to have distant stars being lit from the correct direction, and the directional light will be placed in the middle of the world and its direction follows the player.

perhaps i can reduce it's expansion by a light function, because distant stars must not be lit by this false direction.... god, that sound like a hack.

avatar image Jacky Oct 08 '14 at 04:47 PM

perhaps i can reduce it's expansion by a light function, because distant stars must not be lit by this false direction.... god, that sound like a hack.

The stars will and should always be lit(and they wont be lit by any light since you will be using an unlit emissive material.) And it is ok if the planets in the far end of the universe receive light since they wont be noticably close anyway.

How many stars are you planning to have in this system? If they are not too many then using point lights for each star might work(but again i'm sure it wont be as good as directional light.) You'll have to try both ways to find out which works the best i guess.

avatar image [PB]Aphexx Oct 08 '14 at 10:18 PM

sorry. i'm just too dumb to express myself i'm constantly taking stars for planets.

so here is the real situation: i have different planetary systems as different levels each of them has 1 star (sun) and up to 8-9 planets. these planets are not in real scale and distance to one another.

the planetary system is much more arcade like. the ship is about 3cm and the system about 8 km in diameter. so you can see the big planets like gas giants very much. but i'm thinking about reducing them in size so that perhaps it will be not THAT important to have an exact lighting for these at distance. but anyway i'd like to have it done in the most elegant way.

do you have any idea on reducing a directional lights expansion? there are no settings for this like you have them in 3dsmax for example.

avatar image Jacky Oct 09 '14 at 10:40 PM

You shouldnt really go that small with the spaceship. Otherwise you'll have shadowing and physics problems. And you cant limit the area a directional light affects, only the distance it casts dynamic shadows(cascaded shadowing distance.)

avatar image [PB]Aphexx Oct 15 '14 at 04:16 PM

thx for your help jacky! this topic can be marked solved. i now increased the distances between the planets so much, that they are too small for false lighting to be visible. now i only have to teach the directional light to always point to the player position. but i think i will set up a new topic for this. i wonder is this is even possible, since the directional light is no targeting light but a free directional. well, perhaps can help me out in the blueprint section. thank you so far, jacky!

avatar image Jacky Oct 15 '14 at 04:42 PM

No problem. It should be possible to rotate the directional light to the position you are at but dont make it follow the player. Instead, create trigger volumes for every star system and when you overlap those triggers set the direct. light's rotation to that star system.

avatar image [PB]Aphexx Oct 15 '14 at 05:49 PM

ah yes. actually the gameplay should be like strolling the galaxy and then entering solarsystems. so each system needs its own dirlight that will be unloaded by leaving the system. i actually got it working to let a dir light follow the player. it was impressively easy haha. anyhow this is ONE way to achieve this. perhaps there are also other ways. alt text

i'd like to contribute this to this answerhub, perhaps i should alter the tags?

avatar image Jacky Oct 15 '14 at 08:43 PM

Yeah, that's one way to do it. You dont need a dir. light for each solar system though, it will just be more work than needed for you. Have one dir. light and set its rotation depending on where you are in space.

That post can stay here, you can open up a new post if you have any other blueprint related questions.

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I tried lighting my solar system using multiple spot lights, It works a bit, but you need to tweak the settings a bit for them to make the result look good.

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answered Jan 05 '16 at 04:35 PM

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Skythedragon
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