Sundog Blog

Posted by Frank Kane on 30th September 2014

Comparing Triton to WaveWorks, osgOcean, and Hydrax

Beaufort scale 9 in TritonAt Sundog Software, we try to focus on what our customers need instead of the competition. But, we’re often asked how we’re better than other 3D ocean technologies out there. OpenSceneGraph users are usually comparing the Triton Ocean SDK to osgOcean, Ogre users to Hydrax, and game developers are looking at WaveWorks (WaveWorks is a trademark of NVidia). In many cases, these competing packages are free or bundled with other tools, so why pay a modest licensing fee for Triton?
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Posted by Frank Kane on 29th September 2014

Check that end-of-the-year budget…

A pile of cash.Do you have projects planned for 2015 that need realistic 3D water, 3D clouds, weather effects, or dynamic skies? Maybe you’d even like to quickly upgrade an existing game or simulator with better environmental effects. Now might be the time to ask for purchase approval for new SilverLining and Triton licenses from your company.

Not everyone knows that companies often have unused funds in their annual budgets at the end of the year, and in some cases, it’s “use it or lose it.” It’s possible your organization has money set aside for software, and as we enter Q4 it’s often easier to get approval to use it. Here at Sundog Software, we often see a big surge of sales in Q4 for this reason.

Another good idea is to renew your support & maintenance plan for existing licenses. It’s only $1000 for 12 months of updates – and both SilverLining and Triton have seen some huge advances in performance and visual quality that you may have been missing out on.

So, if you’ve been putting off asking for purchase approval for one of our licenses – ask your manager or accounting folks again. You might get a pleasant surprise! Contact sales@sundog-soft.com or visit our purchase page for more information.

Posted by Frank Kane on 29th September 2014

Are you going to I/ITSEC 2014?

I/ITSEC 2014We are too! I/ITSEC is the biggest training and simulation conference in the US, happening from December 1-4 here in Orlando, Florida.

Is your company demonstrating a system built with SilverLining or Triton? If so, contact me – I’d like to discuss doing some joint PR, or at least plan to stop by your booth and have a look!

Every year we meet many of our customers face-to-face while at I/ITSEC. If you’d like to arrange a meeting, let me know and we can set aside a time. It’s never too soon. I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Posted by Frank Kane on 23rd September 2014

Linear Color Space with SilverLining and Triton

Linear vs. Gamma Color Space

Some engines will render their scenes internally in linear color space, where gamma correction is removed from all source imagery (using sRGB textures for example.) A good write-up describing how this can improve illumination is “The Importance of Being Linear” in GPU Gems 3.

If your engine works this way, and you want to use the SilverLining Sky, 3D Cloud, and Weather SDK or the Triton Ocean SDK while rendering in linear color space, you’ll find that the sky and ocean appear too bright. By default, SilverLining and Triton produce gamma-corrected images intended to be displayed on a monitor as-is. If your engine applies gamma correction later in the pipeline, the sky and ocean end up getting gamma corrected twice as a result.

There is a simple solution. Triton offers the Triton::Ocean::SetLinearColorSpace() method, which may be used to render the ocean in the darker linear color space instead. SilverLining offers even finer control with the SilverLining::Atmosphere::SetGamma() method – by default SilverLining assumes a gamma value of 2.2, but by setting the gamma to 1.0 you’ll get results in linear color space instead.

If you are using the Unity Pro engine, it also has an option for linear color space rendering. The next releases of SilverLining and Triton for Unity will automatically handle this, but for now you may refer to this and this for tips on using our products with linear color space in Unity.

One finer point: whether you’re in linear or gamma color space, you’ll want to make sure any reflection textures given to Triton are in gamma space. For example, if you are using SilverLining to produce an environmental cube map for Triton, make sure Atmosphere::SetGamma(2.2) is called prior to calling Atmosphere::GetEnvironmentMap(). If you cannot easily generate reflection textures in gamma space, contact us for guidance on modifying Triton’s shaders to only correct the non-reflection components of the water.

Posted by Frank Kane on 17th September 2014

SilverLining’s 3D Clouds Get Improved Lighting

Improved cumulus shading in the SilverLining Sky & 3D Cloud SDK.The latest version of the SilverLining Sky, 3D Cloud, and Weather SDK (available at our evaluation page) features improved shaders for cumulus clouds – both the legacy and high-resolution variants. Update today for our most realistic-looking clouds yet! Licensed customers with up-to-date maintenance plans also have access to the latest source code.

We added more detail and smoothness to the lighting of individual cloud puffs, which gives them a much more realistic look and sense of depth. The change is subtle, but we think it pushes things just over that mental threshold where the clouds look truly real.

We also added a feature to automatically darken clouds as the cloud coverage gets larger. No more bright white cumulus clouds when you should be seeing overcast conditions!

We also further tweaked the optical properties of all cumuloform cloud types.

Posted by Frank Kane on 15th September 2014

SilverLining Volumetric Clouds for Havok Vision 2014.1

Havok Vision / SilverLining IntegrationOur integration kit for the SilverLining Sky, 3D Cloud, and Weather SDK is now available for the Havok Vision 2014.1 game engine! This is an official partner integration, evaluated by Havok.

If you’re using Havok Vision, just head to our evaluation page. You’ll first need to install an evaluation of the SilverLining SDK, followed by the SilverLining / Havok integration kit.

Our integration with Havok features vForge integration, dynamic skies for any time and location, and 3D volumetric clouds and precipitation for any weather conditions. It supports both forward and deferred rendering modes in Vision.

Our integration for 2014.1 works with both the game and simulation editions of Havok Vision. Integrations for earlier versions of Havok Vision are also available upon request.

Posted by Frank Kane on 4th September 2014

Sundog Named a Top Simulation & Training Company

Sundog Software is a 2014 Top Simulation & Training Company.Sundog Software has been named a Top Simulation and Training Company for 2014 by Military Training Technology magazine. This puts us in some very good company!

This is the sixth year running that Sundog Software has achieved this distinction, as a result of the wide reach our environmental effect technology has in the simulation and training industry. We’re always spotting our Triton Ocean SDK and SilverLining Sky & 3D Cloud SDK in use in unexpected places, and it’s helping make training more realistic and immersive for countless real-world applications.

Posted by Frank Kane on 27th August 2014

New Visual Improvements in Triton’s 3D Ocean

We’ve updated our Triton demo video with our most recent visual tweaks in Triton 2.96 – check it out:

If our simulated ocean looks more realistic now, but you can’t quite put your finger on why – well, that’s what we were going for. There are just a lot of little things that add up to more photorealism with our 3D ocean technology:

  • Improved water color
  • Additional wave detail, both near and far from the camera
  • Improved appearance of foam
  • Denser spray effects
  • A new “double refraction” shader effect that gives the water a bit more depth

We also let you select the level of detail you want in our wave simulation at runtime, so you can choose your own balance between performance and visual quality. You may select from “good”, “better”, and “best” quality settings both when creating your Triton::Ocean object, and you can change this setting at runtime using the new Ocean::SetQuality() API.

All of this comes with a minimal performance cost, so you may update with confidence. Enjoy!

Posted by Frank Kane on 8th August 2014

SkyMaxx Pro 2 for X-Plane Features SilverLining Clouds

We’re proud to announce the release of SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 in partnership with MaxxXP. SkyMaxx Pro is an add-on for the X-Plane flight simulator, which brings 3D clouds, lens flare, cloud shadows, and crepuscular rays effects to X-Plane using our SilverLining 3D Cloud, Sky, and Weather SDK.

Here it is in action:

X-Plane and SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 may both be purchased at X-Aviation. We’re quite happy with how it turned out, and we hope it adds to the realism and enjoyment of X-Plane flight simmers around the world!

Posted by Frank Kane on 16th July 2014

Hi-Res Clouds Look Even Better in SilverLining 3.009

SilverLining's hi-res cumulus congestus clouds in SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 for X-Plane.
The SilverLining Sky, 3D Cloud, and Weather SDK received big visual improvements with version 3.009. Our CUMULUS_CONGESTUS_HI_RES cloud type looks better than ever, and we’ve also made a lot of improvements to the cloud shadow maps returned by Atmosphere::GetShadowMap().

Seeing is believing – click the image above showing SilverLining 3.009 integrated into the SkyMaxx Pro 2.0 add-on for the X-Plane flight simulator. Note the crisp cloud shadows on the terrain, and the high level of detail of the clouds. We’ve invented a hybrid cloud rendering technique that combines the photorealism of large billboard-based clouds with the 3D volumetric feel of SilverLining’s cloud engine.

You can appreciate the 3D nature of the clouds better when you fly through them, which this video (courtesy of Dave Roberts) shows nicely: