Lighting Challenge #13: Christmas

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  12 December 2007
First Composite

-Hey All

So far my approach is using all spotlights and pointlights no FG or GI or Ambient Occlusion as of yet. I feel I have the most control this way. I have here a breakdown of what I've done so far:


Rimlight on the ornament from the moon

Fill lights from the sky

Bounce light from the right wall off the screen

Keylights from within the fireplace

light cast outside of the fireplace

Bounce from the fire off of the floor


Still needs a lot of work obviously but it's a start =)
  12 December 2007
Moonlight on x-mas

Ah . . . my first post!

Rendered in Max 9 with Mental Ray. I used a couple of point lights and a directional light plus FG. I don't like how the x-mas lights look but I am through for the night I think.
  12 December 2007
This is great. Secret plan: Let's try to get this thread on the front page by Christmas.

andystopps - Welcome! I don't know if the tree has enough detail to support that level of close-up, but if you put interesting things into the reflection (a nice fire, some other things in the room or the window visible?) maybe it could work.

MooseDog - Nice angle. The pine needles look like they have a lot of ambient light, it would be better if they were darker, except where there's a light in the tree to brighten them.

kanooshka - Nice job! Choosing to focus on the fire really will make you work at making the fire look good.

greyother - Good start. I don't know what's causing the striped pattern on the floor. You'll have to work on getting the point lights positioned in the light bulbs on the tree, and making sure the bulbs glow without the cord lighting up.

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
  12 December 2007

This is my first time trying out a challenge. Hope to have enough time to see this through. Here is my first attempt. I will probably go in another direction but would love some comments. Not too sure about the contrast as I really need to calibrate my monitors
Maya with mental ray. 1 Directional light, 1 point light for the fire, 1 point light for fill. Final Gather for bounce.

  12 December 2007
gorgeous colors T-R, the light fall-off on the floor seems a bit 'quick' though... maybe dial the rich blacks down just a smidge...
"They're toys. My friends are toys, I made them..."
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  12 December 2007
Thumbs up Off to a great start everyone!

T-R, I love the feeling of your image. It reminds me very much of sneaking downstairs Christmas eve to peak at presents. I think possibly the fire light is a bit hot, especially that very hot spot on the inside of the fireplace. Otherwise I like what you've got so far.

  12 December 2007
My first try was actually in Maya but my render times were just too long. I couldn't figure out why so I switched to Max. I noticed the diagonal stripes as well but I couldn't figure out what was causing them. Since I imported the obj into max I didn't have your point lights to work with. I will go back in and create my own point lights in max but I was having some problems with falloff in the photometric light settings. I am still far more comfortable with Maya than Max, so I am slowly learning the differences between how things are handled.

Also - my scene looks MUCH brighter at home than at work, so I suppose I need to lower the gamma on my monitors. Any good advice at getting good gamma levels for monitors? I was thinking about buying a "spyder" since I will be getting a dual monitor setup soon.

When importing the obj into max I had to fix the UVs for the fireplace and floorboards (I think the molding still needs its UVs fixed). Also - although the FBX file will import into max, the geometry's position seems to be completely off. The dresser and various other objects are outside the room.

Overall great work everybody!!

kanooshka: I am especially impressed with how you split out your lights. Can you give me an idea of what types of lights you used and placement? Great comp!

EDIT: I will upload the Max file somewhere once I get home so Jeremy can post it for others using Max.

Last edited by greyother : 12 December 2007 at 09:54 PM.
  12 December 2007
Repy to Greyother questions

Hey greyother first of all thanks =)

I think I know exactly what's causing the problem! =D I've noticed that the diagonal lines exactly correspond with the slats on the wall. Now it could be 1 of 2 things either the slats on the wall aren't doublesided or they are not set to cast shadows. Hopefully that's it.

As for the calibrating of the monitors I know that with nvidia video cards there's a calibration tool built into the control panel. You might want to try that.

For my scene what I have going is a directional light for the moon with raytracing and a little light radius so it creates soft shadows. I have another directional light just linked to the ornament on the tree for the rim or probably more of a kick than a rim. Then I have a set of 6 spotlights shining in on throught the window with a mental ray area light attached which is also casting raytraced shadows. The bounce light is another spotlight with an area light the size of the wall sending raytraced shadows back towards the windows. In the fireplace I have 3 point lights with different color variations to light the inside. Then I have another spotlight with noise mapped to the color to look like tongues of flame shining onto the floor. And finally another light from under the floor shining towards the tree of fireplace light.

Eventually I am going to be making a lot of changes with the shadow setup it's taking a very long time to render with all the raytracing through the needles of the tree so I will be making separate lights for the shadows from the tree that are depth mapped.

Looking forward to updates!
  12 December 2007
ok so my first entry. Suggestion acccepted. I'm quite satisfied with the light from the fireplace (I've to add flame with FumeFx or in post.. still to decide) I will add DOF in final rendering.. but there is still something that doesn't make me fell ok.. but I dont' know what..
P.S. for me the max file (using max 9.0) since to work well but if there are problmes let me know and I will try to fix

Last edited by jojo1975 : 12 December 2007 at 08:57 AM.
  12 December 2007
Question Blend File

Jeremy I can provide you with a blend file for Blender (Version 2.45 should be openable from any 2.4x release). I have simply imported the obj file and haven't done any clean ups.
What is the best way to provide it to you?
  12 December 2007
Blender and Max files are on-line

Thanks to jojo1975 and cosmonaut, we now have Max and Blender files on the download page.

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
  12 December 2007
T-R - Nice job! The fire light could be located more back into the fireplace, with less of a highlight towards the front. For the lights on the tree, it would be nice to see more illumination from the lights in 3D, with less of the 2D glow or bloom effect on top. I wonder if the lights could have a little more saturation, too?

greyother - In terms of color correction, an inexpensive first step is to find a reference photograph (take one with your own camera, or download from of a christmas tree or christmas lights, where you like the tones and exposure, and view that side by side with the renders you are making. If you are matching the tones from the reference image, then your work will match the tones from the reference image on any monitor. A few adjustments to make the picture look right might be in order on some monitors, and in some offices there's more light than you'd have at home. If there are windows or big flourescent panels lighting your office, then expect your monitor image to look different than you see at home in the evenings.

jojo1975 - Good start on the scene. I don't know why some of the branches of the tree are lit brightly, and others aren't. Maybe if it were more clear where that light was coming from, and if it lit the tree more evenly, and cast shadows, it would be more believable? The dark board in the floor almost looks like a little step down or hole in the floor.

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
  12 December 2007
This is Inspirer test
  12 December 2007
Looking great Buca I love the floor and the fireplace. A couple suggestions I could think of so far would be more light coming in from outside because the background plate you're using is pretty bright and some more bounce light towards the chimney because there is a lot of black. Keep it up =)

I started working on the lights in the tree and I wasn't really liking the look and feel of it so I felt like making it harder for myself for some reason. I wanted to make the christmas lights of a different variety. Most trees that I've seen have had the smaller lights in larger number. This will make this challenge even more of a challenge for me but I definately love a challenge.

I wasn't exactly sure how to do this but after some thought I found the perfect method. What I did was take a curve and wrapped the tree. I then took a set of 2 cubes and extruded them along the curve with twist. I then created 4 lights of different colors set point lights in them then duplicated them along the curve. Then randomized their rotation with a mel script.

I have 2 version here the first version is quadratic decay and the second is cubic. Personally I like the quadratic decay better.

  12 December 2007
set up

Nice entry everybody !

here is my first entry, so far...
I only set up the lights ( need some tunning )
no textures and shader work get.. no FG, raytracing, post work just maya soft with depth map shadows, Im using 6 spot lights and 2 point lights.

render time 55seg
C&C please !
Manuel Llamas
Online Portfolio

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