Adding Atmosphere

Like any good theatrical environment the secret to making the most of the mood you wish to create is to add a little atmosphere.  Technically, atmosphere is the sense of depth created by adding particulates to the air.
This video helps illustrate some of the potential of using Fog to enhance your 3D spaces. We recommend the HD setting for best viewing. Atmosphere can be added to a 3D environment by adjusting the Fog settings located in the Editor.
In this example the Fog settings look more like a typical fog or haze, but it does something else. In the above image you can just make out that the road transitions from a 3D ground plane to a painted flat wrap-around texture. This room feels flat and a little small. By adding a little Fog, I am able to soften that transition from the ground to the flat backdrop while creating a sense of depth and mood that suggests the room is much larger then it actually is.
To achieve this effect, I created a warm Ambient light and added a middle gray Fog with a setting that indicated that the effect started its transition from no-Fog at a distance of 30 to all-Fog by 300.
You don't need to think of Fog or Atmosphere settings as limited to only exterior scenes. Interiors can also benefit from both the depth and color enhancements that come with clever Fog settings. In this example I have created a Cavern Room with a very limited color palette. The reason for doing this is that an environment can get overly complex if you are trying to get too many contrasting colors in one place. By limiting the rock and ground to a similar burnt sienna color I can be assured that the Room will feel cohesive and I can still bring in extra colors when I add my Fog settings later in the Editor.
By adding a deep blue Fog setting to the Room I greatly enhance the mood, but also add a theatrical quality to the space. This creates a mood that darkens the space but still makes it feel inviting and not at all sinister or dangerous.
In this case my Ambient Lighting is pretty basic, but I have pushed the Fog settings to a very dark blue and I have pulled the distance in to make sure the fog appears its densest while viewing from the far side of the room.
Fog settings can also make an otherwise light room feel very dark and mysterious. In this last example I wanted to create a lighted central area but suggest that the surrounding forest was very dense without having to build a lot of mesh trees in the distance. The scene is set at night, but I also wanted to make sure the avatars weren't so dark that they were hard to see, so I added a fairly bright cool Ambient light to the room, but pushed the Fog to a Blue Black color to make the area just outside the clearing dark and spooky. I also set the Fog to start just outside the ring of the clearing and reach its densest soon after.
Play with the Fog settings on your environments and you will find that it is possible to turn even a simple environment into something dynamic and theatrical, with only a few tweaks.