View Full Version : How Can You Achieve "Cinematic" Look/Feel" To A 3D Render?

05 May 2012, 09:31 AM

Im would say Im not really new to 3D but I would say Im pretty new to lighting/rendering. Basically the thread title explains my question. Iv been lighting some scenes from the Lighting Challenges. I notice that the way cinematics are lit (for example Blizzard's cinematics) look very different.

Here are my lighting challenges

And this is the reel that encouraged me to ask this question
Its by Nareg Kalenderian. A very (VERY) talented artist.
(I dont know how to embed videos =\)

As you can see, they are very different. How do studios achieve this effect? Are they filters in post? or is it just a whole other lighting technique? Is the content important to get this look and feel?

Basically I want to have this look to my student demo reel.

05 May 2012, 01:45 PM
Questions like this get asked all the time on the forum and it's very important to know there isn't just a secret or easy way to get things to look "Cinematic". There's so much involved in the final look of things, including detailed models, textures and materials as well as post processing effects like color correction.

One thing I can say from the cinematic you posted is that there are lots of reflections. My suggestion would be to take a still from the cinematic that you like and try to recreate it in 3D.


05 May 2012, 06:46 PM
Thank you for the reply. Yes Im aware that there is no easy way of doing this.
So the content of the shot do actually matter to how it "feels'? lighting wise? Can't you get the same effect even with simpler geo/shaders? That is one of Tyson Ibele's work. The way it looks kinda "feels like a cinematic". (to me atleast) Yet it was achieved with very simple geo/shader.

And another thing im still finding hard to figure out is how far would you need to go in a rendering package until you take it out for comping? I don't really know when to stop adjusting lights and shaders before I take it to Nuke or Photoshop.

05 May 2012, 02:59 AM
RREYGUN , I can relate to your question and confusion and it becomes more easier when we understand the term "Cinematic" which incorporates all the aspects such as light ,camera etc.
A cinematic can be simple with only grey shading and on the other hand very complicated with large number of shaders ,passes etc.
Also it depends on one's liking of how much stylize work he/she wanted to achieve.

The decision to make tweaks in lighting and comping also depends on various factors such as
# How much time do you have?
# How much resources (renderfarm etc,) you have?
# Can the look really be achieved in the post? if yes ,go for it ,time is money.
# Usually I don't prefer tweaking shaders too much.

I hope I was able to clear your doubts/confusion.

My Lighting Reel (

05 May 2012, 10:55 AM
add a soft glow, vingette, film grain, letterboxes and finally grade it cyan. job done :)

09 September 2012, 11:33 AM
Sorry to bump up this thread, but this subject also interest me.
All I can give (in my poor experience) is that you separate in your mind few things in the picture (just like you separate stuff when you're doing some material, like: speculars, reflection, refraction, diffuse... etc).

Something like this:
- Contrast
- Color
- Saturation

So, let's say you start with the Contrast. Take a look at your image, and see if it's in low contrast, or hi contrast (and what you want to achieve). You can turn the image to black and white and see better how contrasty it is. You can adjust exposure, levels, or whatever tool you're familiar to make it as best as you can (but watch out so you don't get over contrast)
Then you go with color. Get some references on what colors you want to achieve, and try to mimic that with "color balance" tool, or whatever tool you using.
Saturation. Maker sure you don't get over-saturated look, because, imho, the over-saturated renders looks the most amateurish to me. Especially background. If you have focus on your scene (like character, or box, or teapot.. whatever), make sure that it's a bit saturated from background, and you can go and desaturate background pretty much.

After that you can play with vignette to further focus your scene (if you need so), or a little bit grain, or chromatic aberration (which I think Tyson Ibele uses pretty often).

add a soft glow, vingette, film grain, letterboxes and finally grade it cyan. job done

I must disagree with this, though, I repeat, I am only the beginner in this color correction/grading stuff.
The grading to cyan is something that I often see in the works, but it is too extreme, and often people looses even skin tones on the characters, and something that is in focus, and should remain in original color (or, as close as it can be).
I could agree with you if you're saying that he could grade to cyan some dark part of the image, but then again, only if he wants that feel to achieve (for example, hi/contrast night scene). If he wants warm daylight, then grading to cyan will make no sense, at least imho.

Anyone feel free to disgard what I am saying, 'cause I am just beginner in this field, and my observations should be interpretated that way
Looking forward on this thread to some useful advise from the experienced artist in this field.

Cheers to all.

09 September 2012, 06:10 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he was being sarcastic. Many artists would say that the cyan/orange palette has been very much overdone the last decade or so.

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09 September 2012, 06:10 PM
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