Lighting with Maya Software

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  05 May 2009
Question Lighting with Maya Software

Hello everyone!

So I am lighting a scene right now, the outside of a house. Well, this house is full of windows. I am trying to practice some good lighting techniques but I have encountered a small obstacle...for the record I am using Maya Software, I am not skilled enought to work with Mental Ray yet

Here is how my scene looks with an ambient and two directional lights:

My problem is this, I donīt know how to make light pass through an object. I would like to have light shinning through the windows - to give the feeling that someone is home. I also have the street light and entrance light which need a "lightbulb" inside. I have tried to search online for a solution but all I find is Mental Ray stuff. I need to learn the basics before I move on to advanced. I actually feel a little bummed because this seems like something so simple but I canīt figure it out.

Thanks a million times!

  05 May 2009
Great start to your project--all you are missing is Ray Tracing
  05 May 2009
Good job so far. I agree it can be frustrating learning this complex looking software at first. Never try to open up a manual and read from page one to the end and hope to learn everything. Its good to start with a scene like this and question about the problems.. like how do i make the glow of a lightbulb? how do i make it seem like light is coming through the windows etc etc..... so here is my advice

1) Avoid 'ambient' lights like a disease because they tend to flatten out your object. The main goal of lighting is to bring out the forms, gradation and shading of your object forms... Ambient lights does just the opposite. It doesn't take into consideration which object or form is facing the light or which is closer to the light, rather it lights every surface like they are the same distance and angle to the sun or light source.

2) I'd recommend using one directional light for the key/sunlight.... Then use spot lights or area lights or volumetric light, with a soft penumbra to light other areas of your scene.... Don't ever expect one light to do the job for the whole scene. Use MANY lights to light the different areas/faces/sections of your scene.... In real life, there is one keylight coming from the sun which you can achieve through a directional light with a warm yellowish color. Then there is also light coming from the blue sky that hits the surfaces. (This is one point many beginners don't realize) You can achieve this light from the sky by using a spot light or area light with a light blue tint. Along with these, there are other lights being reflected from one surface like the ground onto the building surface or vice versa... Therefore use spot lights or area lights to mimick these and make sure to pick the color tint also... (for example: if there is a green grass field beside the building, the light reflecting from the field onto the wall will be slightly greenish of tint... it must not be too strong or recognizable).....

3) You can achieve good lighting without raytracing turned on. Raytracing can cause long render times.

4) Turning off "use shadows" on lights will allow the light to pass through solid walls or objects and light a surface behind... Otherwise you can make the glass surface transparent so light is able to enter it.

5) To mimick the lightbulb, just model a ball or object that looks like the lightbulb and apply a lambert shader to it. Click on the lightbulb object and open its attributes editor (ctrl+a) ... Look for the 'Incandescence' channel and turn up the slider slightly. Then go under the 'Special Effects' channel and turn up the 'glow intensity' slider. This will cause the lightbuld object to glow when rendered. However, it is only a fake glow and will not, i repeat, it will not give off any light or light your scene.... Therefore to make it seem like it is shining some light on the building or floor below, you need to create a spotlight or area light, place it near the lightbulb and target this light towards the floor or wall..

I hope this helps you understand lighting in some way....

I highly recommend getting the dvd by Jeremy Birn "Lighting and Rendering in Maya" if you can.... it covers everything you know and indepth, unlike many tutorials which just tell you to turn this slider to this and this value to this and blah blah without explaining why... If you go through Jeremy Birn's dvd and understand it, you'll be able to light any scene to look realistic.... You can't expect any less when you're learning from Pixar's lighting director right? good luck

another recommendation is get Jeremy Vickery's video from the Gnomon Masterclass titled "Efficient Cinematic Lighting" ... It is similar to Jeremy Birn's video, though much shorter and again you're learning from Pixar's experts
  05 May 2009

Thank you so much for your responses. They helped me A LOT.
I was able to make some changes in my scene. Well, I actually decided to start lighting from scratch and the glow adds more of a spooky feel which is the result I was looking for.

I have here the final image, I hope you like it:

I will keep practicing with new projects!
  05 May 2009
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