Adjusting Cloud Settings

You can open the detailed settings of any cloud simply by double-clicking on the asset.


Settings Bar.jpg

In addition to the default Save and Browse buttons, the cloud settings contain:

Rebuild Cloud
Re-calculates internal data structures modified by adjusting some cloud settings. Because this process is slow, it is best handled inside the editor, during level-building phase.

Note: Depending on the settings chosen and hardware specification, the process may take anywhere from few seconds to several hours.

Bake Cloud
Used to permanently remove any points marked as hidden by Noise and Density Reduction processes.

Warning: This process cannot be undone, and if triggered by mistake, may require full cloud re-import.

Reimport Cloud
Attempts to re-load the source file using specified import setting, and replaces any currently contained cloud data.


Settings Status.jpg

Point Count
Those fields show number of all and enabled points contained by this cloud. Points can become disabled after applying Noise and Density Reduction processes.

Approximate Bounds
Overall size of the area covered by this cloud.

Color Data
Describes the time of color information contained within this cloud:

None: No color data imported
Intensity:
Single channel data only (grayscale)
RGB:
Full color information contained

Status
The status will change to Cloud needs rebuilding… whenever you modify any of the settings, which require the internal data structure to be recalculated.


Settings Import.jpg

Source Path
Specifies the source file to use when re-importing this cloud.

Import Columns
Use the seven dropdown boxes to specify columns association with the source data.

  • For no color information, select – NONE – for all color components (Red, Green, Blue)

  • For Intensity only, assign only Red channel

  • The Plugin will automatically switch to full RGB mode if you specify more than 1 channel.

  • Alpha Channel is not currently being used, but is available as an input should you wish to use it in a custom material.

Color Range
Specify color range for normalization or leave both values at 0 to let the plugin auto-detect best settings

  • This affects color levels and can potentially clip their values if set incorrectly

  • Use the Scan button to preview the auto-detected values

Import Range
Specify first and last line to read from the file or leave both values at 0 to read the whole content


Settings Performance.jpg

Single Poly Minimum LOD
Minimum LOD at which to switch to single triangle per sprite. Ignored if using point rendering.

Setting it to 0 will effectively enable single poly sprites for every possible LOD, while setting it to something very high (20+) will disable it altogether.

Use Single Poly Scale property to help mitigate potential gaps between triangles.

Minimum Node Point Count
Minimum amount of points for the node to be rendered. This can save CPU time by skipping stray, inconsequential nodes (usually noise) but setting it too high may result in visible artifacts. Less dense clouds should generally have this value lowered.

Enable LOD
Enables usage of the auto-LOD system. May be beneficial to disable for very small clouds.

View Distance
Affects the distance at which the LOD switches to max quality, measured in UU from camera position. Higher values will result in better quality but may degrade performance.

LOD Distribution
Controls the transition distance between consecutive LODs. Higher values will result in better quality but worse performance.

Below options are only made visibly after clicking on the small down arrow symbol.

Preferred Node Size
Affects the number of LODs to generate (larger values = less LODs). Smaller and denser clouds may benefit from reducing this value but setting it too low may consume excessively large CPU time.

Smaller numbers may result in longer build times for the cloud.

LOD Reduction Factor
Specifies the percentage (using 0 - 1 range) of points to remove in each LOD step. Higher numbers will result in faster quality degradation.

For example, setting it to 0.5 will generate LOD0: 100%, LOD1: 50%, LOD2: 25%, LOD3: 12.5% etc.

Use Low Precision
Uses 16-bit precision for Location and 16-bit RGB color but significantly reduces VRAM requirements.

Visible precision loss will scale with the overall size of the cloud; therefore, it is not recommended to enable Low Precision for larger clouds (bounds-wise, not density-wise).

Because applying limited precision may result in positioning multiple points in the same physical location (causing unnecessary overdraws), it is advisable to enable mild Density Reduction.

See the Requirements > VRAM section for more details.

Vertex Buffer Preloading
If enabled, Vertex Buffer is built and sent to the GPU as soon as the cloud is loaded, and released only when the level changes. This may reduce loading times at the cost of fixed VRAM pre-allocation.

Recommended when you often switch cloud's visibility.


Settings Rendering.jpg

Render Method
Determines how to handle rendering of the point cloud.

Point: each point will be rendered as a single pixel, no matter the distance from the camera. Has much smaller RAM and VRAM requirements and renders much faster.

Sprite: each point will be rendered as camera facing quad and will auto-adjust its size depending on the distance (see below for relevant settings). Uses more RAM and VRAM and requires more processing power. However, due to larger size, lower overall density is required.

Lit: Makes the cloud react to light and allow it to cast shadows (this must be enabled on the Point Cloud Component level).

Unlit: Forces the material to use Emissive output, and completely ignores any lights and shadows. Faster than Lit mode.

Note: Even in Unlit mode, the cloud may still cast shadows on other actors in your scene (subject to your light settings). You can adjust it using the Cast Shadow property on individual PointCloudComponents and PointCloudActors

RGB: Uses all 3 channels of the RGB when applying colors. Selecting non-RGB mode will use single channel Intensity (Red), if available, or fully solid color otherwise. Alpha channel is not being used by the default material.

Color Override

None: No effect
Height: The cloud color will be overridden with height-based color
Position: The cloud color will be overridden with position-based color

Brightness
Self-explanatory. Applied additively, 0 being neutral

Contrast
Self-explanatory

Saturation
Affects color saturation. 0 for grayscale.

Ignored if non-RGB rendering mode is selected

Gamma
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_correction

Color
Tint to apply to the cloud.

Intensity
Multiplies the final color output by the given value. Useful in combination with Unlit render mode to create Bloom and light bleed effects.

Sprite Size
Sets the allowed minimum and maximum sizes the sprites can be rendered as.

Ignored if Point rendering method is selected.

Sprite Size Bias
Allows fine-tuning of the sprite size auto-adjustment between different LODs. Setting it too high may result in unnecessarily large sprites, degrading quality, while setting it too low will result in visible gaps between individual sprites.

Ignored if Point rendering method is selected.

Single Poly Scale
Allows applying custom scale (Top, Right, Bottom, Left) to single poly sprites. Useful for minimizing gaps.

Setting it too high will result in performance degradation.

Ignored if Point rendering method is selected or when not using Single Poly Sprites.

Sprite Texture
Texture to be used for each sprite.

Note, that each sprite has its own UV in the 0-1 range. Currently there is no built-in way to apply single spanning texture across the whole cloud – this is something that would have to be implemented as a Custom Shader.

Ignored if Point rendering method is selected.

Sprite Mask
Affects the shape of sprites.

None: Standard, square shape. Fastest.
Circle: Simple circle, medium speed.
Texture: Alpha channel of the sprite texture (if available). Slowest.

Ignored if Point rendering method is selected.

Custom Material
Setting this will automatically replace the default material. To access the properties selected via the panel, use MF_PointCloudParameters nodes.

NOTE: if used in conjunction with Sprite rendering mode, make sure to assign WorldPositionOffset inside the material output otherwise nothing will be visible. Default shader uses the MF_PointCloud_SpriteTransform node.


Offset
Specify offset mode if you want the cloud to be re-positioned (recommended for clouds with geo-spatially positioned data).

None: no change to coordinates
Center: moves center of the cloud to 0, 0, 0
First Point: moves first point of the cloud to 0, 0, 0

Translation
Simple fixed position offset added to every point.

Scale
Scale to be applied to each point’s position. Takes place after Offset and Translation steps.


Density Reduction Distance
Setting this to values higher than 0 will result in density reduction. Any point, which has a neighbor closer than the value specified will be disabled.

Useful for finer control of the cloud’s detail. May produce especially good results if Low Precision is enabled.

Warning: this process can take a while if small values are used on larger clouds. Use with caution.

Noise Reduction Distance / Density
Setting the Distance value higher than 0 will result in noise reduction. Each point, which has less than the minimum number of neighbors within specified range will be removed.

Useful for removing stray points in mid-air or small clusters of unnecessary points.