At Gamescom last week, whilst I was admiring the extremely good-looking cars and landscapes of Forza Horizon 3, Playground Games' creative director Ralph Fulton casually mentioned that the in-game sky is actually the real, Australian sky, captured over the course of an entire season. Wait, what?
"We literally captured the sky with a 4K camera rig," he answered. "That created over 1tb per day of data for an entire summer, to create an authentic Australian sky. In-game, the whole sky is an HDR light source."
Obviously it's not the raw 4K assets you'll be seeing in Forza Horizon 3's, uh, horizon, but a sky created from all that data. It has dramatic clouds, double rainbows, very realistic weather. The lengths that the team went to to capture this are actually ridiculous: not only did they set up a panoramic rig of 3 4K cameras in the Australian outback, but the lenses on each camera had to be changed every 30 minutes. For an entire season.
"And everything out there wants to kill you," added Ralph. "There were spiders hiding in the overhangs and crevices [of the rig]."
This story really tickled me - it's a great, if unusual, example of how much work goes into elements of games that we take entirely for granted. When admiring Forza Horizon 3's sky, you'll now be able to appreciate its provenance.