EIAS 7 Tips thread

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  11 November 2007
EIAS 7 Tips thread

I know how many of us users avoid manuals, so here are a few quick tips to help get you started with your fresh copies of EIAS7.


1. You do not need to use a hi-res HDRI for lighting; it's slower to render and harder to work with. At the most you will need a 800pixels wide (often 500pixels or pixels will do) map for lighting. If you get a little noise in your render you can blur the map, this will help eliminate it, if it doesn't, add a few more primary rays.

2. If you have a ground plane in your scene, make sure you set the 'Band Angle' for your HDRI map to 90 degrees - this option can be found in the Projection tab for the image. This is useful because your ground plane will be blocking half the rays cast by the HDRI as they are being cast from underground effectively halving the amount of rays hitting your scene.

3. It can sometimes be a good idea when using GI Glossy to set the Amount (in 'Glossy' options) to 0.1 and then use the Specular Falloff in the material palate as an amplifier, you might big numbers in this box (10 or more). This way you can control GI Glossy on an object by object basis.

4. In an animation if you get strange blocky render result (render artefacts) change the Colour Tolerance GI setting to a higher number, this will swap out the artefacts for noise which is often harder to see. Generally a setting of between 5 and 10 is good.

5. Think of the 'Sky Light' as the exposure setting for the HDRI.


1. You can add a 'Final Render' layer in order to incorporate a Camera flattened image into your PSD. By default this is set to the 'Difference' layer mode which will allow you to see how the traditional flat render differs from your layered render. A .img produced by Camera and a layered PSD in Photoshop will not match in some situations because Camera uses some layer modes (such as 'add') that don't exist in Photoshop - they do however exist in After Effects. You will find that you can get a result that is almost identical or identical in most situations. Remember that if you add more then one copy of a layer (for example two Ambient/GI layers - see below) your final render will not match your layered renderl - for obvious reasons.

2. To get a single mask of several groups at once, simply add the desired groups to a selection set and add the ei_layers shader.shl for that set. Only enable the 'Mask' layer and set the number of masks to 0.

3. You can drag selection sets from the Selection Set Editor onto the EI layers tab in the Render Settings window (alt-drag them).

4. Bitmap reflections and Raytrace reflections are now separate, this means you can have three types of reflection on one object: Bitmap, Raytrace and Glossy (specular layer).

5. To get a quick and cheap Occlusion pass set up two Ambient/GI layers in the layers shader, leave one as default and uncheck 'Diffuse Bias' on the other. Then in Photoshop change the second Ambient/GI layer's (the one with 'Diffuse Bias' disabled) layer mode to 'Multiply', then use Levels to fake the 'Distance Limit' option. It's cheap and fast. A surface blur will often help smooth the pass.

6. It might help to think of the Layer shaders as 'observers' of a render. Camera will render according to the settings and flags in the Render Settings window and the layers shaders will observe the render and sample out the bits they need to create their output.

7. The RPF shader contains layers/ data that simply wouldn't make any sense in a Photoshop file - for example z-buffer and UV information. To use these layers in After Effects, you will need to add the '3D Channel Extract' filter and select the desired RPF layer from the drop-down menu.
  11 November 2007
Hi Ian

Thanks for the v7 jump start notes - very useful indeed.

In relation to v7 are there any known issues one should be aware about when updating an older v6.5 project to v7? I was thinking about the change in bump size issues in the last update and the 'use as value' being switched on all your textures on a very early update.


  11 November 2007
Hi Robert,

Thanks You need not worry about the bump settings between 6.5 and 7, you only need to pay close attention to that if you are updating projects from 5.5 and earlier.

On the Mac, to get a project from 6.5 PPC to 7 UB:

1. Open the project in 6.5
1b. Remove all Northern Lights plug-ins (they are not compatible between versions).
2. Collect the project using ALL folders
3. BIN the Sockets and Shaders folders
4. Open the project in V7.

Quite easy really, though you may be missing a few shaders that aren't UB yet.

  11 November 2007
Excellent - thanks for the advice.

Are the Northern light plugins still not compatible even if I'm still running on a PPC?

Cheers again

  11 November 2007
Originally Posted by bradfilms:
Are the Northern light plugins still not compatible even if I'm still running on a PPC?

Correct, they are not compatible. There was an issue in the techniques the NLT used to store data that made it impossible for them to work. It's a very unique sort of problem and caused Blair a lot of concern. He felt the best way to move forward with his plug-ins was to create new versions that would not be backward-compatible.
  11 November 2007
Thanks Matt for the information.

I better update all of my northern light plugins before the big arrival next week.

  11 November 2007
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