Our journey to South America begins in Baños, Ecuador - located in the Eastern Andes, this popular tourist resort town offers lots to do. From restaurants, hot springs, waterfalls, and plenty of other activities to keep you occupied - its an excellent destination for anyone wanting to get a taste of the region. We won't be staying here long though, as the neighboring Amazon awaits..
While Baños may be located in the Andes Mountains - it's also known as the "Gateway to the Amazon" due to its close proximity to many of the Amazon River's tributaries and streams, offering a direct route into the jungle itself. We rent a boat from one of the locals, and we're soon on our way - into the dense, humid climate of the Amazon rainforest..
We travel deeper into the Amazon, and it might be hundreds of miles before we reach the next town or village. The locals here live simple lives - while some are tucked away so deep into the forest that they haven't been reached yet by civilization - others live on the shores of the Amazon and its tributaries with limited contact. We get a chance to meet a group of them, high up on their stilt houses - the brief glimpse into their lives and customary rituals is quite fascinating.
In this part of South America - much of the local economy depends on important natural resources such as oil to keep afloat. Lake Maracaibo, located in northern Venezuela, has been vital for the locals - outside of the Middle East, this is one of the world's largest oil producers since oil was first discovered here back in 1914. Much of the land surrounding the lake is surrounded by endless fields of oil pumpjacks - they've quickly become a common symbol of the region.
We head back into Brazil and the next stop will be a common sight in many of the major cities. From São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro - favelas dot the outskirts and creep up along the mountainous hillsides. The people here might not have a lot - but they make the best of their situation for them and their families, creating makeshift houses from whatever they can find.
Some 1,000 miles west is where you'll find our next destination - one of South America's greatest cities, Buenos Aires. The mighty obelisco rises some 221 feet above the surrounding Plaza de la República and the spaciously wide 9 de Julio Avenue - commemorating the founding of the city back in 1536, its one of the main landmarks in the city and one of its premier destinations.
Our final destination takes us back to the Andes - and although much of the land here is inhospitable and harsh, there's still a number of small, charming villages and towns that you'll want to check out. The small village of Tocanao in Chile stands on the edge of the Atacama Desert - despite the lack of rain (this is the driest area on the face of the planet) - the people here have adapted quite well, making the most of a few small streams that run close by. The bell tower here dates from 1750 - built from volcanic stone, its a unique landmark that's quite striking.
Note: For this update (and others) - custom content creation has been vital. I've been creating custom road texture sets (this is only a small portion of it - there's about 20 or so for the Banos pic), BATing various small buildings from scratch (1, 2,), making HD water textures, and much more. I don't know if any of this stuff will make it to the exchange soon as there isn't any documentation, a number of small things still need to be fixed/improved, and I've also been extremely busy with my CJ lately. In the meantime though, if anyone is interested in these then just send me a PM.
Additionally, about the last update - the obscure BATs were not photoshopped in (that would be waay too much photoshop in my book) - they're all ingame BATs I got from 3d warehouse. The Petra pic used a bit more photoshop than usual - I made it a long time ago when I was still messing around with PS - but the pic still uses an ingame BAT from 3d warehouse with some extra effects around it (added lights, made the cliffs look better.) Anyways, if I'm doing a scene and I need something from 3d warehouse, I'll import it into 3dsmax, render it, and use it as a prop in my scene. They are like any other BAT you would use. I already wrote a number of moderately in-depth guides on this in my other "South America" update here - I might consider doing this again (more in depth) if there's enough interest.
Also, all of my scenes with the crazy road textures are really just a big flat prop (ingame props, not some sort of crazy photoshop effect. That would be an excessive amount of photoshop in my book). I'll make a big texture, place it on the prop in 3dsmax, render it, and use that prop in Lot Editor. So it isn't some sort of post processing effect, these are ingame props, no different than any other prop you would use. I already made a guide on this here in my "Year in Review" entry (the Pisa picture) so feel free to check it out.
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