View Full Version : Opinions about lights and rendering: technology or handcraft?

03 March 2006, 08:15 AM

I’m triyng to master the “magic” of 3D. I’m studing 3DS Max. Now I’m busy with illumination and rendering.

Of course I feel attracted by advanced GI and renderers like Mental Ray and Brazil.

However, some notes from the very good book “Digital Lighting and Rendering” by Jeremy Birn, made me think.

Says Birn, talking about some tricks to simulate area lights: ”Using these techniques is not just a “workaround” to avoid area lights, it is actually the most common solution to soft lighting used in professional productions.

To date, most shots using computer generated imagery in feature films have been rendered without any extensive use of raytracing, radiosity or area-lights. Instead, they have been rendered using spotlights and depth-mapped shadows for most shadow casting.

As a part of a complete lighting design, your choice of simple, effective, controllable tools, does note necessarily hurts your production values.”

What do you think about? Is still true that (the book has been published in 2000)? In what situation you avoid GI for less advanced but effective tools?

Thank you


03 March 2006, 11:43 AM

I do think that the GI tools are way more powerfull/fast/efficient that 6 or 7 years ago..
I would also say that is depending on what you do. If you animate something, mabee your shadows or the reallnes of the image can be a little less, as your eye will be attract by the movement. ( as well render times) But if on the other hand you are doing a archviz still, photoreal, I do think that it is really hard to avoid GI. Even games now bakes GI into maps, so it really is everywhere...

03 March 2006, 01:20 AM
I don't think techniques like GI or raytracing really change the whole field of lighting as your subject "technology or handcraft" implies. They are just tools, you are still the artist/cinematographer either way.

Feature film visual effects nowdays are starting to at least use ambient occlusion on just about everything that isn't hair or particles, so the idea of most shading being just spots and dmap shadows is not really true anymore. You still don't see full GI solutions used in most feature film shots, though, and most of the times you see a reflection in a CG film I bet it is not raytraced but a reflection map.

If I were still a student I'd learn all the techniques, including GI rendering as well as setting up my own bounce lights for a "simulated radiosity" look, because all are still needed.


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03 March 2006, 01:20 AM
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