Room box -a solution for the horizon problem?

Hi Thomas and Merwan,

I am a big fan of your products and got even more inspired by your recent Lindale Survey23 where you presented possible future products. I would like to share my idea which would be kind of big work and goes beyond room box although it uses the same technology:
I have a regular problem and I am quite sure that I am not the only one here: I create visualisations of landscapes, usually with historic buildings and surrounded by trees, posed on a hilly 3D groundplate that covers ~ 1km² (touching the limit of SUs capacities). Foreground and middle ground are of very good quality but my problem is the background: Using a simple 360 degree image sky dome (with or without horizon line) for rendering is than often very disappointing as the hilly environment does not fit well to the flat horizontal line. When moving in my scene, the background does not behave like it should (nearby elements should move against very far mountains). Further, when my viewpoint lifts a bit from the ground, I can often see artificial “holes”.

My solution would be: A series of low poly concentric horizon cylinders like in the attached scheme. Similar to RoomBox, the cylinders could be covered with adjustable png-images. Each image is made out of a collection of landscape elements (collections of trees, forests, hills…) and presents a different distance.

I would very much appreciate a roombox-like SU plugin that comes together with a catalogue of different horizons or elements. The adjustability could be from simple possibilities (just picking adequate presfabricated images, turn them in the desired position and adjust some colour/ transparency parameters) to more complex ones (creating own landscape cylinders by combining prefabricated elements, adjusting colour perspective). However, the final horizon cylinders should be adjustable to any dome sky and ilumination situation.

So far my ideas, I would be happy if other users could share their ideas.


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That’s an interesting idea.

If it’s several kilometers wide, isn’t there a risk with the face clipping issue in SketchUp? It could make working on small building or objects an issue.

Also when the camera is not at the center of the circle, I think there would be distortion on the trees/background?

You might be able to solve this with proxies. There’s more than the face clipping issue. If the model is too big you start getting floating point issues that lead to innacurate models just slightly off axis, not being able to generate faces or double faces being generated sometimes. This isn’t an issue for most archviz, but it’s critical for people like me that have the same model for visualization and documentation.

Thanks for taking up my question.
So far I already used this cylindic panoramas in 2 big models without this face clipping problem or the floating point. But:

  1. I cheated a bit using panorama cylinders of “only” 6km radius. In reality, you may have more than 50km vision, but this is neglectable. Obviously, there is a sort of maximum extend that should not be exceeded.
  2. I always put the cylinders in an extra tag that I turn of while modelling. Its only for the final rendering,
  3. My aim is not to create a gaming like environment where the camera can go wherever it wants, but to have an explicit detailed inner area where the camera can go and turn around freely (~200 x 200m) and where the backgournd is accurate enough. I often produce 360 degree images (for example: 2021-10-25 Schloss Blankenhain, go to “Außenbereiche” and choose the images at the bottom), so limiting the scene to a specific camera angle is often ab problem for me.

My unsolved problem is that I am not able to produce acceptible multi level panoramas on my own. I already saw some offers of cut out background landscape images (forests, mountains). However they where not done in a way to use them in the model, but only for post-processing of images.
I can imagine two options to produce good panorama elements:

  1. Taking 360 degree drone panoramas from high above (the horizon becomes broader the higher you fly) and cutting them into pieces accoring to their distance, or
  2. Build up a series of virtual landscapes, render them and cut out the elements (e.g by masking distance levels)
    For both options, each panorama could be sold as room boxes ord HDRI skies are sold today.