CRYENGINE includes a CGI quality Time Of Day lighting system. Designers can use the Time Of Day function to simulate realistic and surrealistic lighting effects.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to use the Time Of Day function, the Terrain Lighting dialog box, and the Terrain -> Environment panel in the RollupBar to configure precise lighting conditions.
Time Of Day Dialog Box
The Time Of Day dialog box is used to configure the lighting and environment settings of a level. All values can be animated over time so that the level will look different as time advances.
Open the Time Of Day function through the Terrain menu. You can also find a "Time Of Day" button in the main toolbar.
The Time of Day window will typically open with just the basic properties listed but you can toggle between the basic and advanced properties, by selecting the Toggle Advanced Properties option on the left hand panel.
A complete list of the parameters and their functions can be found at the end of this tutorial. There are also additional parameters which can be accessed via the Rollup Bar -> Terrain -> Environment tab.
Static Versus Dynamic Skies
Some of the parameters described on this page are relevant only to either Dynamic (HDR sky) or Static (Skybox). The latter are simple boxes that use textures to render a sky dome; hence, they cannot offer all the dynamic effects exposed by HDR sky and the Time Of Day system.
It is important to remember that the sky and time of day can be configured on a level per level basis. Dynamic skies use a material that has the "SkyHDR" shader assigned. Static skies use a material with the "Sky" shader and combines textures containing the five sides of the sky box (all cube sides, except the bottom). To manipulate the sky, create or pick an appropriate material and assign it to the sky dome through RollupBar -> Environment -> Skybox -> Material/MaterialLowSpec. You must also have the "Skybox Multiplier" value set to '1' in the Time of Day properties.
To store the changes made in the parameters panel, the red record button in the top panel needs to be highlighted. The Time Of Day dialog box has a slider that represents a 24 hour day. It can be used to set the current time and can also be used to scroll or scrub through the entire 24 hour cycle.
All the parameters that are changed in the right panel will be set for the currently selected time. The graph in the center of the dialog box shows the change of the highlighted parameter over time. When a parameter in the right panel is changed, the graph curve will be updated at the currently selected time. It is also possible to directly change the curve by dragging around the key frame points. New key frames can be inserted by double-clicking the curve and existing ones can be removed by double-clicking the key frames themselves.
It is important to realize that each yellow dot in the graph for each property is a key frame and times that lie between these keyframes will have their values interpolated.
Time Of Day Tasks
Import From File
Imports the Time Of Day settings from an XML/TOD file.
Export To File
Exports the Time Of Day settings to an XML file.
Resets all the parameters to their default values.
Expands all the parameter group panels.
Collapses all the parameter group panels.
Toggle Advanced Properties
Toggles the properties view panel on the right to either show just the basic properties or all available properties.
Displays the current time that is being edited.
Initial time that will be used when the mission is started.
If you do not set this value correctly, your TOD will not be set correctly in pure-game mode.
End time that will be used for the mission. If the end time is set to 23.59, the time will loop, starting the next Time Of Day cycle once a day is over.
Speed at which the time advances; 0.005 is a good general value.
Starts or resumes the playback of the Time Of Day sequence in the Editor.
Stops the playback of the Time Of Day sequence in the Editor.
Force Sky Update
Selecting this check box forces a complete update of the sky light calculations in each frame.
The Terrain Lighting Dialog Box
See Terrain Lighting Tool for more information.
See Cloud Shadows for more information.
See Environment Panel for more information.
Time of Day Parameters Settings
|HDR dynamic power factor|
The dynamic power factor is applied to all the light sources, when rendering in the HDR mode. When HDR is enabled, eye adaption is usually applied, which brightens up dark scenes and dims down bright scenes.
|Lights HDR dynamic power factor|
Control the HDR brightness of all dynamic lights within the level.
|Sky brightening (terrain occlusion)|
This value specifies how much ambient occlusion on terrain, under trees, and the like, should be visible.
|SSAO amount multiplier|
This value specifies how strong the effect of Screen Space Ambient Occlusion should be.
|SSAO contrast multiplier||This value allows you adjust the contrast value of SSAO. Values range between 1-2, with higher values increasing in the intensity of your shadows calculated using SSAO.|
|Global illumination multiplier||This value specifies how strong the global illumination will be.|
|Sun color||This RGB value sets the color of the light source used as the sun.|
|Sun color Multiplier||This value specifies the brightness of the sun and gets multiplied with the sun color.|
|Sun specular Multiplier||An additional control for the brightness of the sun, allowing you to increase the intensity and brightness of the sun on specular materials in the world.|
|Sky color||This RGB value specifies the sky color, which is used as the ambient lighting color.|
|Sky color Multiplier||This value specifies the brightness of the sky color (ambient color).|
|Ambient ground color||This RGB value specifies the ambient ground color in the world. This works as a fill light off the ground and can be useful for adding light to darker parts if the terrain.|
|Ambient ground color multiplier||This value specifies the brightness of the ground color and gets multiplied with the ambient ground color.|
|Ambient min/max height||These values are used to control the height range for the ambient ground lighting.|
This allows for gradient coloring of the global fog. This value will be the bottom color of the fog
|Color (bottom) multiplier|
This value is multiplied by the bottom fog color and specifies the brightness of the top fog color.
Specifies a reference height for the vertical fog gradient (in range [-5000..35000], default is 0). For the fog color this marks the height at which it will reach the specified color at the top.
Density at the top (in range [0..1], default is 1). Please note that it is possible to set the top density to a higher value than the bottom density.
This allows for gradient coloring of the global fog. This value will be the top color of the fog.
|Color (top) multiplier|
This value is multiplied by the top fog color and specifies the brightness of the top fog color.
Specifies a reference height for the vertical fog gradient (in range [-5000..35000], default is 4000). For the fog color this marks the height at which it will reach the specified color at the top.
Density at the top (in range [0..1], default is 1). Please note that it is possible to set the top density to a higher value than the bottom density.
|Color height offset|
Shifts the color of the vertical fog gradient towards the top or bottom (in range [-1..1], default is 0).
|Color (radial) & multiplier|
Specifies the color of the fog component responsible for producing halos around the sun and in-scattering of sun light.
Specifies the size of the radial fog component (in range [0..1], default is 0.75).
Specifies how much the radial fog component is affected by distance (in range [0..1], default is 0.5). Small values will make it affect the horizon only while bigger values will make it appear to over glow the scene.
|Final density clamp|
Specifies the maximum fog density that is allowed for final blending with the scene (in range [0..1], default is 1). This allows the sky, horizon and other bright distant objects to punch through even if the fog is dense.
This value specifies the global density of the volumetric fog. Higher values produce denser fog.
The ramp values can be used to control the fog density in relation to the camera. This value sets the distance from the camera at which the fog will start to be rendered (at 0 density).
This sets the distance from the camera at which the fog will be rendered at its maximum density, set by the Global Density parameter.
This value determines how much the ramp values effect the rendering of the fog.
Specifies how much the fog color computed per pixel (via the settings above) is generally darkened based on the volumetric shadow value computed by the engine per pixel (in range [0..1], default is 0.25).
The factor is applied after a darkened fog color has been calculated using the sun and ambient darkening factor below.
|Shadow darkening sun|
Specifies how much the radial fog color is influenced individually (in range [0..1], default is 1).
|Shadow darkening ambient|
Specifies how much the ambient fog color (i.e. height gradient) is influenced individually (in range [0..1], default is 1).
Specifies how far volumetric shadows get traced (in range [0..1], default is 0.1; that is, up until 10% of the level's far clip plane distance).
Parameters in this section are solely used to compute the atmospheric appearance of a dynamic sky. They do not directly affect the rendering of objects in the world (for example, lighting colors and intensities).
However, they are used to internally compute an approximate fog color to automatically fog the entire scene in appropriate colors. For a static sky, only the fog color in the fog parameter group is used.
For a more in-depth explanation of the physical scattering parameters listed below, please refer to this page.
A RGB value specifying the sun color that is used to compute the atmosphere color.
|Sun intensity multiplier|
This value sets the brightness of the sun. It gets multiplied by the sun intensity to yield the overall color.
This parameter sets the Mie scattering constant. Mie scattering is caused by aerosols in the lower atmosphere (up to 1 km).
This parameter specifies the Rayleigh scattering constant. Rayleigh scattering is caused by particles in the atmosphere (up to 8 km) and is wavelength dependent.
|Sun anisotropy factor|
The anisotropy factor controls the sun's appearance in the sky. The closer this value gets to -1.0, the sharper and smaller the sun spot will be.
|Wavelength R, G, and B|
This triple defines the wavelengths (in nm) of the RGB primaries. Tweaking these values will shift the colors of the resulting gradients and produce different kinds of atmospheres.
Night Sky and Night Sky Multiplier
|Horizon color & multiplier|
This RGB value that is scaled by the multiplier specifies the horizon color of the night sky gradient.
|Zenith color & multiplier|
This RGB value that is scaled by the multiplier specifies the zenith color of the night sky gradient.
This value shifts the night sky gradient. Small values shift it more towards the bottom. Higher values shift it towards the top.
This value controls the overall brightness of the stars. Please note that the flickering of stars due to atmosphere turbulence is completely procedural and cannot be controlled.
|Moon color & multiplier|
This RGB value that is scaled by the multiplier specifies the moon's emissive color.
|Moon inner corona color & multiplier|
This RGB value that is scaled by the multiplier specifies the color of the moon's inner corona.
|Moon inner corona scale|
This value controls the size and blurriness of the moon's inner corona. Smaller values will produce a bigger, blurry corona. Higher values will produce a smaller, more focused corona.
|Moon outer corona color & multiplier|
This RGB value that is scaled by the multiplier specifies the color of the moon's outer corona.
|Moon outer corona scale|
This value controls the size and blurriness of the moon's outer corona. Smaller values will produce a bigger, blurry corona. Higher values will produce a smaller, more focused corona.
All types of clouds supported by the engine (distance clouds, impostor clouds, and volumetric clouds) use the current sky and sun color, along with per material albedo to shade the clouds.
As sun and sky color can be slightly too bright or dark in certain scenarios, the following two parameters provide means to correct the cloud brightness for a given time of day.
This value specifies how much the sun affects the cloud brightness.
This value specifies how much the sky light affects the cloud brightness.
Sun custom color
Sun custom color multiplier
Sun custom color influence
Sky custom color
Sky custom color multiplier
Sky custom color influence
Sun Rays Effect
|Sun shafts visibility|
DEPRECATED - This value controls the visibility of sun shafts. Higher values accentuate the shadow streaks that are caused by the sun light penetrating objects.
|Sun rays visibility|
This value controls the visibility of sun rays. Higher values cause brighter rays around the sun.
|Sun rays attenuation|
This value controls the attenuation of sun rays. Higher values cause shorter rays around the sun.
|Sun rays suncolor influence|
This value controls how much the sun color contributes to the color of the sun rays. If the parameter is set to 1.0, the sun rays get the color of the sun.
|Sun rays custom color|
This value specifies a custom color for the sun rays.
Ocean fog color
This RGB color specifies the ocean fog color for a specific time of day.
Ocean fog color multiplier
This parameter controls the brightness of the ocean fog and is multiplied by the ocean fog color.
Ocean fog density
This value controls the density of the ocean fog.
This value controls the brightness of a static skybox. This parameter is not used for a dynamic sky.
This must be set to '1' when using a static skybox.
DEPRECATED - This is a post-processing parameter that controls the overall image saturation.
DEPRECATED - This is a post-processing parameter that controls the overall image contrast.
DEPRECATED - This is a post-processing parameter that controls the overall image brightness.
The following parameters provide fine-grained control over the gamma level of the image. These parameters are very similar to the parameters of the Levels function in Adobe Photoshop.
DEPRECATED - This parameter controls the minimum input of gamma.
DEPRECATED - This parameter controls the gamma level.
DEPRECATED - This parameter controls the maximum input of gamma.
DEPRECATED - This parameter controls the minimum output level of gamma.
DEPRECATED - This parameter controls the maximum output level of gamma.
DEPRECATED - The parameters in this section make it possible to modify the color of the final image. The available parameters are the overall Color and the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black levels.
This parameter applies a grain filter to the final image.
This parameter applies a sharpening filter to the final image.
This parameter applies a color filter to the final image.
This parameter controls the strength of the photo color filtering.
Depth of Field
This parameter specifies at what distance the background begins to become blurry (out of focus).
This parameter controls how strong areas that are out of focus, are blurred.
The parameters in this section give you control over the sun's cascaded shadow map bias settings at different ranges. It does not affect point lights (bias settings can be defined per light in the light properties).
Moves the shadow cascade toward or away from the shadow-casting object (or objects).
Allows you to adjust the gradient (slope-based) bias used to compute the shadow bias.
Customize the sharpness of the shadows.
CRYENGINE supports multiple cascades. Cascade 0 is closest to the camera, cascade 1 is further, etc. The higher the cascade, the lower the precision of the shadows (lower resolution for higher cascades).
Shadow map acne is usually visible at medium range on the 3rd and 4th cascade especially. To prevent shadow map artifacts, the sun shadows bias and slope bias settings are exposed in the time of day.
The lower the “Bias”, the more connected the shadows will be to the shadow caster.
In most cases, the "Bias" should be kept as low as possible, to ensure a proper connection between the shadow and the shadow caster. Values between 0.01 and 0.05 offer the best compromise.
|Bias = 0||Bias = 0.05|
|Bias = 1||Bias = 5|
Shadow Slope Bias
The higher the "Slope Bias", the less shadows will be cast from surface with a high angle of incidence of the light.
In most cases, you want to keep the “Slope Bias” at a fairly high value, to remove the artifacts usually produced by the low shadow bias. Values between 32 and 64 offer the best compromise.
|Slope Bias = 8||Slope Bias = 32|
|Slope Bias = 64||Bias = 0.025 / Slope Bias = 32|
In the last image above, a compromise was made between Bias of 0.025 and Slope Bias of 32. Some artifacts are visible, but the self shadowing is better overall.
There is no "one-size-fits-all" setting for shadow cascades. It depends on your assets, sun position, lighting conditions, etc. Tweak these settings to suit your needs and keep in mind they have little to no impact on performance.
Shadow Jittering can be defined through Time of Day (as well as r_ShadowJittering CVar) to give you control over shadow sharpness.
|Shadow Jittering = 2.5 (default)||Shadow Jittering = 1||Shadow Jittering = 10|
HDR Curve Editor
Film curve shoulder scale
Controls the slope at the tip of the curve (modified bright values).
Film curve midtones scale
Controls the linearity of the middle of the curve (modifies grey values).
Film curve toe scale
Controls the slope at the base of the curve (modifies dark values).
Film curve whitepoint
Sets the value to be mapped as pure white in the tone mapped image.
Color saturation before tone-mapping.
HDR Color balance.
Overall brightness of the scene used for the automatic eye adaptation.
Darkest possible exposure used for the automatic eye adaptation.
Brightest possible exposure used for the automatic eye adaptation.
When using the HDR3 settings, make sure you turn HDR dynamic power factor to 0. Otherwise you can revert to using HDR2 by using both these CVars: r_HDRrendering 2 and r_HDRBlueShift 0
When setting up your ToD, it is advised that you start off with all the HDR settings to 1 and blueshift to 255,255,255. Adjust your non-HDR settings, then make your HDR3 adjustments at the end.