View Full Version : Lighting Challenge #2: Paul Sciortino

02-13-2006, 10:00 AM
Jeremy thanks for doing this--this is terrific.
I've done an interpretation of script #1, the romantic moonlit kitchen scene.
For some reason I can't post attachments (maybe because I haven't posted a lot yet?) so my entry is at Thanks in advance for everyone's comments.

02-13-2006, 06:29 PM
Welcome, Paul!

Good start. Your link is working, maybe try an IMG tag like this:

It looks like the raytracing isn't working. Maybe the blue light doesn't have enough shadow rays or trace depth for its shadows to appear in reflections? Look at the left wall all in shadow and its reflection lit up blue... maybe all the raytraced reflections are kindof distracting and could be brought down or turned off.

The scene needs bounce lights. Under the cabinet it looks like there's a light shining down on the counter, but none bouncing up onto the wall in that area. The same is true around the window frame, there's a lot of blue light in parts, but then the upper part of the left side goes very abruptly to black where I'd think that area and maybe the top would be getting some bounce light.

The blue light could go further. Maybe it rims some of the fruit and chair and cork more. Maybe it bounces a little into more places.

It would be great if some of the shadows were softer, especially the shadows from the warm light coming from the left, it seems as if that should have bounced around another room before most of it made it into the kitchen.


02-16-2006, 09:41 AM
Ok, hereís my second try at script #1 (romantic moonlit kitchen). Iíve tried to incorporate all the suggestions and Iíve learned a ton doing it, I think, but there are some things I still want to try before I go to another script.

Hereís what Iíve been doing. For now I've been trying to keep the original framing of the shot, kind of pretending that this is part of a larger project that was given to me just to light, and that others have created the composition. So anyway, Iím working in Maya and Iím using one directional light and 16 spotlights altogether (rendering in mental ray). Hereís how they break down:

-livingroom_light (warm light from left) (

-moon_light ( (blue, directional, coming through the window)
-moon_light_fill_1 ( (blue, shining from viewerís left)
-moon_light_fill_2 ( (blue, located over the far end of the table and shining toward the right, illuminating the garbage can and the right chair)
-moon_light_windowsill_bounce ( (blue, just outside the window shining up to illuminate the inside top of the sill)

-cork_rim ( (these are all blue except the wine_rim, and all help define the forms of the objects)
-wine_rim (
-chair_rim (
-fruit_rim (

-four cabinet_lights ( (a warm-ish white color, shining down onto the counter below the cabinet)
-cabinet_rim ( (puts that little rime on the bottom of the doors of the top cabinet)
-three countertop_bounce lights (1 (, 2 (, and 3 ( different warmish color, closer to the countertop's color, and shining on the right wall, the back wall and the area just below the window)

All but the moon_light_fill lights and the windowsill bounce light have raytraced shadows turned on. The livingroom and countertop_bounce lights all cast nice soft shadows, but it's pretty expensive. So one of the things I want to try is to replace them each with several spots using depthmap shadows. I'm curious to know just what it would take to get really close to the raytraced results.

I was kind of surprised when I counted up all the lights--it seems like a lot, yet each one does have a specific purpose. Any ideas on where I might economize, or even if economizing in this is necessary?

One thing I'm still not satisfied with is the romantic part. I mean, the kitchen looks moonlit, and the color scheme and lights under the cabinet are intended to give the kitchen a sense of being a sophisticated "WELL-APPOINTED KITCHEN". But something about it feels a little sterile, and I can't put my finger on it. Without adding props or characters, and manipulating only the lighting and shaders how can I make the scene say "romance" more than it already might? I guess that's the whole point of the exercise, isn't it--where the art of it all comes into play.

02-21-2006, 03:15 AM
Hey everybody,
Here's my third go at the romantic kitchen scene.

I've changed the framing to focus more on the vintage merlot and less on the kitchen overall (I think vintage merlot is more romantic than a kitchen, so I'm hoping this framing helps convey the romance part). I've still got to do the chair and composite it in, but I wanted to get this up sooner rather than later.

There are still a couple of things I'm not satisfied with yet:

(1) There's a reflection just below and above the sink (a very light blue tint) that I think is coming from my main moon light but I'm still a little puzzled by it, unless it's a reflection from the table. Anyway, still gotta investigate that.

(2) A blue fill light that's behind the camera is creating unwanted specular highlights on the right-side lettering on the wine label. I want the label to look letter-press printed (very old style), but wasn't counting on these highlights.

(3) The texture on the wine bottle is perfect at the neck, but scales up on the lower part. I'm not sure how much I like that. Maybe it helps make the bottle look old.

(4) The background is ok I guess, but maybe a little too empty. So I wanna work on that too.

So here it is, with links to a hi-res and a very hi-res version.

Hi-res (
Very hi-res (

02-21-2006, 04:51 AM
they sciortino..i like your third version of the challenge..your breakdown is cool..i dont know anything about rim lights, how they work and how to make them work.. though i did try it my scenes..but i'm not really satisfied if i really got them right..

anyway..thanks for your breakdown..

02-21-2006, 04:57 AM
My pleasure.
I'll try to post a breakdown of version three as well.

02-21-2006, 04:58 AM
Wah-Hoo! :bounce:

You stuck at it, and you came up with the romantic image!

In terms of finishing up, the blue on the table cuts off very abruptly. If it's supposed to be a reflection or a moonbeam or whatever, it should be much softer at the edge. Maybe there should be some more blue light near the window, too, like rimming some of the nearby objects or in a pool below the window. Shading on the paper towels makes the spindle look very bright compared to the towels, might tweak that too.



02-21-2006, 05:01 AM
My pleasure.
I'll try to post a breakdown of version three as well.

Breakdowns are great. If you could put them over a dark background that would be ideal, when I follow those links my browser puts white around them which almost blinds me to some of the darker images. Or get a super-final version of v3 before you do breakdowns.


02-21-2006, 05:07 AM
Thanks for the encouragement Jeremy. And again, thanks for doing this. I think I've learned a lot in the past 2 weeks and hope to keep up the learning.

And for the breakdowns, I'll wait until I have a super final version, and then I'll them on a dark background. I know what you mean about being blinded....

Thanks again.


02-27-2006, 11:19 AM
Ok, here's getting close, I think, to a final version. And thanks for the crits both on- and off-line. I keep saying I've learned a bunch and it's true. This is so much more addictive than AOE ever was!

Hi-res (
Very hi-res (

Thanks again,

02-27-2006, 02:36 PM
I'm not sold on the bottle shader. It looks like a wood texture, and doesn't seem very reflective. (Especially as compared to this image:

03-03-2006, 04:27 PM
I had been trying to get an older look with the bottle, but I've gotten similar comments from others so I guess that wan't working the way I had hoped. So anyway, here's a new version (the final version for this script) that provides a shinier bottle. I hope to provide a lighting location breakdown this weekend, along with new work on script 4. In the meantime, in addition to the usual high and very high resolutions, here's a photoshop file with all the layers--might be fun to play with (3.3 MB download).

High (
Very high (
Photoshop file (

03-03-2006, 08:40 PM
Scroll through the thread and you see a lot of development here, can't really ask for more then that eh? ;) I like the final result, composition seems good. Only question I have is about how colourful the fruit are -- realizing that they're right beside the center of interest anyway might make it a non issue, but perhaps just a took more defocus / desaturation going into the depth? Someone else might be better to comment on it, but it just seems like there isn't anything in the right to balance that off, definately nit picking though imo.

Look forward to the other scripts if you take them on :)

03-08-2006, 07:07 AM
Here's my first take on script #4 (the Nightmare on Thirteenth Street one).

It's inspired by German expressionist cinema of the '30s (in particular, what I vaguely remember of the film "M"). That, plus a slightly wide lens to create a subtly uncomfortable perspective (apologies to Ron Brinkman), and a low angle to communicate vulnerability. Those are the high-falutin' ideas anyway.

It feels kind of unbalanced right now (heavy on the right), so I've got to give the composition some more thought. Otherwise, I've intentionally kept it monochrome (although some of the lights are a warmer off-white, while some are a blue-grey). Seven spot lights altogether: one from behind the fan, just above the blades (gives that high contrast edge on the blades and provides much of the general illumination); one on the back wall making a slightly brighter background for the bottle to enhance the contrast there); two from the right (one filling in the chairs and table legs, the other filling in the fan); and 3 filling in the left side of the scene (floor, counter, far ceiling corner).

I tried the bottle as transparent, as shiny, and as transparent AND shiny, but I just like the way the light shows the contour of the non-transparent, non-shiny version shown here.

Anyway, here it is:

03-23-2006, 09:38 AM
Here's another take on script 4. Same pov and lens as my last one, but with color and some other changes. Needs more work, but I wanted to get it out there and see if anybody has any thoughts. Thanks.

03-23-2006, 03:07 PM
SOme of the black and white elements need color, maybe not as much as the walls but they just look unlit as it stands.

The walls look like a big dome over the room, because the corners have been so deemphasized, maybe putting a bit of shading onto the corners, and just enough softening and overspill on the light on the ceiling to make it more realistic.


03-23-2006, 03:37 PM
nice work on your last version of script 1, the light falloff on the table is much nicer than the hard shadow you had thing that jumps out at me though is how dark the paper towels are compared to the surroundings....light on either side, yet they are pitch black....some sort of rim light or bounce light might help a little, but i wouldn't want to go so far as to detract from the rest of your image...again, nice work, keep it up!

nice start with script 4, although I agree with what Jeremy has already said. Keep pushing it and I am sure it will turn out great.


03-24-2006, 09:34 AM
Script 4, take 3.

I've made the ceiling a different color from the walls, turned up an existing light (pointing at the far ceiling corner), and added a duplicate of that one but slid to the right. There seems to be pretty good contrast between the cieling and the walls now. Also, I added more color to the table, cranked up a light in the lower right, and set it to cast shadows. Hopefully, that lightens up the B&W parts Jeremy mentioned (or did you mean it's the cabinets that could use more color Jeremy?). Also tried to add some wear to the lower cabinets. Finally, I changed the message scrawled on the window to something that seems more creepy. It's tough though, because there's room for only two or three words, and they have to be small words. Maybe just "DIE" would have more impact?

Oh, on a related note, I had chance a week or two ago to see "M" again for the first time in years. My memory of how it looked the first time I saw it (and that I based my first script 4 effort on) has little to do with how the film actually looks. Maybe I was getting it mixed up with some '50s film noir or something.

Anyway, back to version three here.... I feel almost like there are three characters in the scene: the window, the fan, and the bottle. The window and the fan are in dialog, while the bottle stands on the sidelines and watches.

My goal is to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with this one. It doesn't seem to get there yet though, so crits are very welcome.


03-26-2006, 12:09 AM
New framing and some other refinements (moved the chairs around, colored the blinds, etc.).

I think maybe it's close, but I'm having problems with the bottle. Right now I'm using an ordinary Phong with transparency, but no refractions. It's nothing fancy, but having the bottle in the scene is slowing down the renders tremendously and I'm not sure why. (I'm using mental ray in Maya 6.5, btw.) Any tips on what might be gumming up the works would be appreciated. When I finally get it worked out, the bottle will be on the table, on the lower right.

Ok, here it is:

04-03-2006, 12:30 AM
Last go on the kitchens. I was wanting to put in a two-liter coke bottle, but in the state the bottle is in now, it definitely detracts from the rest of the image. So here's my final script 4 kitchen, sans bottle.

(Links to hi res and very hi res versions in the next post, below.)

04-03-2006, 12:31 AM
Links, as promised in message above.

Hi res. (
Very hi res. (

04-24-2006, 09:37 AM
Ok, ok. I know I said that last submission was my last submission, but I just had to get the darned bottle in there. Here it is.

CGTalk Moderation
04-24-2006, 09:37 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.