Texturing For Extreme Zooms
By Neil Blevins
Oct 17th 2007

This is a pretty common scenerio. You want to see something from far away, then zoom in to get close, all in the same shot. Lets try this the straight forward way. Lets say the shot involves seeing a city sidewalk, then we zoom in to see a quarter sitting there. I have a 2k by 2k image of concrete which looks fine at a distance...

Figure 1

Now we zoom in, and it looks horrible...

Figure 2

This is because we don't have enough resolution on the image. However, to have enough resolution to look at the texture this close, we'd need a 20k by 20k map. This is a huge image, your 3d software may not load it, your ram may not be able to handle it, your camera won't photograph something that big. Overall, it's a big mess.

So here's the trick. We're going to take advantage of the fact we're only zooming into a specific area of the ground. Start with your original image applied to a plane

Figure 3

Then take a photo of the concrete very close up

Figure 4

Place this image tiling 10 times across your plane in the u and v direction...

Figure 5

Don't worry about the tiling you'll see from your far away distance, just make sure you can't see the tiling when you're zoomed in. Now create a mask that is white where you plan on zooming in, and black everywhere else.

Figure 6

Place this into a mix map (in 3dsmax, but the theory holds for any piece of 3d software, use a map that lets you blend between two seperate maps with a mask). You get the following result...

Figure 7

Figure 8

And here's 4 frames of zooming in. Now you get a texture that holds up for the close shot, and isn't unnaturally huge. (Note, adding motionblur to the camera move not only adds realism, but also will help hide the seam between your two maps.)

Figure 9

Also note, if doing an extreme, extreme zoom, you can also try placing a second mix between an even closer image of the ground and your original closer image. So you'd have 2 mixes, the first mixes between your closer image & your even close image, and the second mix between the result of the closer & even closer image and your original image.

Here's the max file to show you the technique (note, the texture files in this file are not 2k like I mention in the tutorial to save on disk space. But the theory is the same) , max8: zoom_max.zip


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