Generating normal maps for high resolution models...

Hello,

Does anyone know of a 3D package that would allow me to do this? Basically the idea is to start with a high polygon model, make a normal map from it, then stick that on a low polygon model. I think Unreal 3 is going to do this, maybe Doom 3 did it too. It isn't hard in Unity once you've got the model and normal map... but...

Anyone have an idea of how to get it in the first place?

Mega bonus points if it can be done with Cinema 4D or Blender. :smile:

-Jon

http://www.monitorstudios.com/bcloward/tutorials_normal_maps11.html

Looks like I may be out of luck . . .

I know Maya has built-in tools for it, but that probably doesn't get you that far...

How large are your hi-poly models.... If they're less than 65K verts, you can actually generate the normalmaps in Unity...

So then you can bring in the low-poly model and apply that map to it inside Unity?

Is there a way to re-align the map to the low-poly model in Unity?

check out melody at nvidia (boo it's windows only). but it's free. there's also a photoshop plugin that creates on off your texture (i think) - also win only.

zbrush 2 looks really cool but i haven't used it. supposedly you can generate hi and low poly models at the same time and export out a mesh, normal map, displacement map etc. $489 and has a mac version.

name's pete but i can't register on the forum for some reason... :shock:
hi david - yeah it's me...

Hi,

it normally works like that you need a high-poly-model and a low-poly model. The software then calculates out the difference which results into the normal map.

As for 3d-packages 3dsmax7 is doing it for sure. I thought maya 6.5 would also be able to do it. But as one said before there are cheaper ways to get it done as there are already tools from ATI and nVIDIA.

http://www2.ati.com/developer/NormalMapper-3_2_2.zip
http://download.nvidia.com/developer/Tools/Melody/1.2/Melody_1.2.0630.1500.exe

Greetings,

taumel

Yeah, I saw the windows only tools. I have an x86 but no windows. :)

One of the neat things about Unity is that you can create the normal map automatically off a grayscale image.. . so you don't even need that photoshop plugin. That Melody app would be nice, though.

The model I have right now is only a few thousand vertices... well under 65k.

You might ask, "Why bother if it is only a few thousand vertices?" The answer is that it is a skinned mesh with maybe.. 16 bones. I get about 6 fps with one of those in Unity... and Shark tells me 16% of the time is being spent on I think it was SkinMesh()... so I'm thinking it's too complicated.

This isn't a high priority project for me, it's mostly just playing around. However, I expect people are going to come across all of these issues soon enough anyways, so I might as well ask about it all. :)

-Jon

Thanks for all the Windows only tools... but... isn't that a bit silly given the domain of discourse?

-Jon

yeah nvidia and ati both gotta support mac tools better!

the thing i think is cool about zbrush 2 (aside from the way you model in it) is you can create a 5,000,000 poly model and a low poly model at the same time. "paint" your details on the hi poly and generate your normal map. take it into blender to clean up and animate your low poly. $489 compared to the price of maya or max.

check out the movies on this page to see what i mean about modelling in zbrush. looks very cool. (no i don't work there! but if anyone's used it, let me know if it's really this cool!):
http://pixologic.com/zbrush/media_links/movies.html

ps to anyone looking at melody for normal maps and lod generation... aside from windows only, you also need a vid card that supports pixel shader 2 or it won't run.

it's pete again...

Normal Mapper from the above link claims to be able create a normal map from a low and high poly model. The download does contain a Mac version but it appears to be the source code so if someone who knows about such things could make it do something they could perhaps post the app for all of us :smile:

[quote]
You might ask, "Why bother if it is only a few thousand vertices?" The answer is that it is a skinned mesh with maybe.. 16 bones. I get about 6 fps with one of those in Unity... and Shark tells me 16% of the time is being spent on I think it was SkinMesh()... so I'm thinking it's too complicated.
[/quote]

Unity can't handle that model? Why? It doesn't seem that complex.

A skinned mesh with 16 bones isn't that complex of a character why is Unity only getting 6fps?

Does Unity always slow down with boned models? Does this mean we can only have Balls or Cars as characters in our games? That statement is a little scary to hear.

@aarku

Well maybe i've misunderstood you or my english wasn't just good enough but as you described it in your first post it sounded like the creation order would look like high-poly, normal map, low poly.

So just to get sure i wanted to give you a short description of what the tools i know are doing.

And for bringing up windows-only-tools most of the mac-users i know also have a pc. And when they have one they mostly run windows on it, so...

But as Pete said there also is zbrush for both platforms but i've never used it so you will have to look it up on your own. I think there are also plugins for the different render-packages as well, so you also might want to look for these?!

This reminds me of the talk i had with Daveyjj and as i said there: The best is if software is multiplatform! :O)

Greetings,

taumel

Regarding the 16 frames per second for a skinned model in unity.

The current implementation is slow and unoptimized.
The skinning support in unity is new, we wanted to get character support into unity before 1.0. The first implementation was done so that people can start using characters in unity. By no means will we keep performance at the low level it is at the moment.

We will replace it with vertex shader based skinning and a much more optimized software fallback.

How far off is this?

I know you guys are working on many things. But Independent Game Festival deadline is Sept 1st, and I was planning on entering a character based game made with Unity. If optimization is a couple weeks away I can move forward, if it's 6 months away, then I should scratch my current design doc.

Should I stop planning for a character based game?

Whoops. The artist who made the model just mentioned that the model was 20k polygons, not 2k polygons like he thought.... (Don't have a way to check an fbx at the moment here) :shock: :shock:

Anyways about the Windows-only stuff. Sorry if I seem a little frazzled about it all. It's probably similar to the feeling of Unity being Mac only to some of you. . . it's just that it happens much more to me. I'll see what I can make of this source code. Thanks for the tip on that.

-Jon

Unity can't handle that model? Why? It doesn't seem that complex.

A skinned mesh with 16 bones isn't that complex of a character why is Unity only getting 6fps?

Does Unity always slow down with boned models? Does this mean we can only have Balls or Cars as characters in our games? That statement is a little scary to hear.
[/quote]

Sorry... artist mentioned now it was 20k instead of 2k like he originally said. Heh. :shock:

needs to get something other than Unity that can read fbx files

-Jon

Ok good 16 fps seemed a bit low to me.

That said, i can put a few more optimizations into the skinning within the next 1.5 months.

Actually, the source code contains an xcode project... Here is the compiled command-line tool. compiled on tiger, so your milage may wary...

Cheers,
Nicholas

1308--42--$normalmapper_117.zip (75 KB)

Reduced the ragdoll to 1700 triangles and performance was up to like 40 fps... on my slow old thing.

So, carry on, move along. :)

I still want to do the normal map stuff... Will give it a shot... if that command line program works nicely I'll throw a GUI on it for everyone.

-Jon

Maxon just announced Cinema 4D version 9.5. Amongst other things it will support the creation of normal maps from the sub-polygon displacement function. This could be very useful for game creation. In fact, the info page specifically mentions game development:

http://www.maxon.net/pages/products/c4d/95features_e.html

I guess I need to start saving money for it.