Originally Posted by noizFACTORY
A warm welcome to you on cgtalk and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
It would be great if you could tell us a bit about the lighting process in your films. For e.g. how early on do you actually start lookdev for a set and how closely do the lighting and shading team work with each other? Are issues like those related to fidelity of surface detail, hold out matte AOVs and geometry complexity resolved at this stage before shot production begins?
Also, how do you usually light your fur/hair/foliage assets? Do they use the same kind of toolsets that are used to light regular geometry or are they treated and rendered separately and integrated back in compositing?
And how much of a role do you play in taking stock of your existing toolsets and then coming up with your requirements for further development on a show? Because any kind of R&D would probably require a lot of time and of late we've been seeing an amazing amount of development happening in prman in terms of raytracing. I guess a lot of it has to do with your "demands" for such lighting solutions?
Apologies if any of my questions are vague and I'd be glad to expand on them. Your work with Pixar has been inspiring and all props to you and your team for continuing to inspire us all.
Yes, the lighting and shading teams do work very closely together and this collaboration begins very early in pre-production as we start to develop looks. We do try to work out as many issues as possible as soon as possible, especially for anything that we don't already know how to accomplish. In particular we want to make sure that the light/surface interaction is worked out and easy to light. We don't tend to do a lot of hold out mattes, but for any special needs we talk about them as soon as possible. I am involved in the modeling and shading processes all the way through production and am able to flag any potential issues with geometric complexity, etc. as the work is created.
For hair/fur/foliage, they are not usually rendered separately, but it isn't uncommon for them to require special handling in lighting, either with special lights or special shadowing.
I am usually on a production for a little over 3 years or so, and in the early stages of designing the look for the film, a big part of that is specifying any new tools or processes that will be needed to accomplish the look. It does take time to develop these tools, so yes, the sooner we can identify them, the better.