(The Hotel Righi [ree-gee] project was a set of renderings I collaborated on back in 2007. Now that I have some free time, I'm turning it into a short fly-through video.)
The title of this post, "distant terrain," refers to parts of the landscape that are at least a few thousand feet from the camera, typically a mile or more. It's created using digital elevation models (DEMs) from the public domain. These models are combined, divided, and either simplified or refined depending on camera distance.
The distant terrain currently uses 190 megapixels of greyscale masks to determine where water, trees, and buildings are placed. Lighter areas specify deep water, tall trees, or tall buildings. Darker areas specify shallow water, short trees, or short buildings. The above masks represent the Swiss town of Vuarennes.
Here's a sample result. In this frame, the camera is flying northward through les Portes du Soleil and has just crossed the French-Swiss border. In the bottom-right corner are the Swiss towns of Torgon and Vouvry. Ahead is Lake Geneva, or Léman to the French.
next: neighboring terrain