Planetside’s Terragen 2

The last time I used Terragen was around a million years ago to create a matte painting background to be the stand in for Oahu. I recently discovered that the Planetside software has come a long way since that time’and the wait has been worth it.

I noticed a UI overhaul immediately, which mirrors the technical updates: A nodal system, reminiscent of Houdini, has supplemented the modular system of the previous version, providing the user with massive power and control over how the scene is created. Fractal systems permeate the program from terrain generation, to clouds, water, etc.’basically everything you need for photoreal backdrops. And if you look at their gallery, there are some stunning examples.

Not only has the program received a new coat of paint, but its scale has also increased’to the point where you can create entire planets. And the scale also goes macro.

Other features include instancing geometry for when you need a forest of trees with only your RAM to hold you back and Volumetric or 2.5D clouds to balance between speed and realism. You can also save out your environments to HDR files for reflections and GI in your other 3D programs of choice.

It’s a little slow, which is understandable when you’ve got all the toys turned on. It doesn’t have animation, yet, but a module is in beta right now for licensed users. And its somewhat limited in its import/export capabilities, limiting it to a degree to legacy pipelines (although FBX support is on the way). However, at a $300 price tag, its got a lot of bang for the buck.

Website: www.planetside.co.uk

Price: $299; ($200 upgrade from V. 09); Terragen 2 With Animation: $399