Lighting Challenge #13: Christmas


i rendered it in about the time it took me to walk and get a coffee



the obj is huge (138 mb or some unzipped) so if any one need I got the 3ds file. I can upload via Ftp if jeremy wants… waiting for details :wink:
jojo. Today I will upload first try


first off, jeremy thanks for the cool scene. I see everyone has some great images.

       for mine to help speed up the rendering I just hid the tree geo and used a poly stand in for blocking. I still have to comp in the windows but just want to get a sense of what to do next.
 [left]      pbalisic- great image I like the textures and how you put a lamp light on the dresser feels "homey"



Here’s my attempt in Vue. Ambient Occulusion lighting for the overall scene with 2 additional point lights - one to light the fire and one from the top front to help light the tree. The bulb and ormanment colors were done procedurally using a world mapped fractal to generate the different colors. The flames are an Alpha Plane. Took about an hour to render on my antique Pentium 4. I’m hoping one of the presents under the tree contains a faster computer for me.


The splotchiness on the fireplace mantel is caused by photons which aren’t blurred enough. I would try turning up the final gather samples.
How far is the coffeeshop? That looks like it took more than a few minutes to render . . .

Great job pbalsic and seedra4. Your work really sets a mood. What kind of machines are you guys rendering on that your renders only take a few minutes?
I have a dual P4 xeon 2.8gig with 2gigs of ram and my renders are taking anywhere from 8 to 36 min!! This scene seems really heavy for how old my computer is. Does anyone have any advice on scene/render optimizations?

pbalsic: The only big issue that stands out to me is the shadows on the floor need their sampling turned up. The edges of the shadows are too grainy.


seedra4 - Great job! The physically solid impression is there. Maybe you can make the pine needs a little more translucent, so the tree will go brighter with all the light from the window coming through it? The texturing that you’ve done already looks good, especially the feeling of the floor.

Lazzhar - Wahoo! That’s great! It looks like the tree needles themselves are glowing, not just the lights, but it’s a fascinating effect. The bulb as a stand-in for the fire works well enough for an early test. Tree to get different colors for the fire light compared to the tree lights, maybe the fire is warmer?

L33tace - When I get time it would be interesting to see if I could make a set of smaller .obj files as an alternate format… For scenes with over a million polygons, a large .obj size is normal, since .obj is a text format that spells out line by line the X Y Z locations of each vertex.

Cosmonaut - Thanks! See my PM.

pbalsic - Wahoo! That’s great! Love the colors! See if you can get more light from the lights on the tree, and do more with the topper!

Nosferatu8650 - Great start! Really solid looking! The hard-edged shadows from the fire light are distracting, that should be much softer and needs some more decay. Try putting in a little more bounce or fill light on the dark sides of the walls, and maybe a little less bounce or fill on the chimney above the mantle.

Jojo1975 - Thanks! See my PM.

jberan32 - Good start! Too much of the scene looks blurry to me, although keeping a natural DOF could be good. The lighting on the right side above the dresser has a strange curved shape, I don’t know where that’s coming from.

Dburdick - Great! The occlusion helps give it a nice solid feel, and the textures are working. See if you can get some color into your lights, based on the fire color, light colors, etc. Also work on shadows, the gifts especially look so brightly lit that I expect to see more self-shadowing. It would be nice to see the lights reflected in the windows. When the rest of the scene is that bright, try doing something nice to the tree topper too.



Wow amazing work already everyone!

I’m very excited to start this, Good luck all!


Great stuff, everyone. I particularly like the colours in yours, pbalsic, also the painterly look in yours, jberan32.
My first thought on this was to look at the reflection of the scene in one of the glass baubles (not easy to set up, because you can’t see the reflections in the openGL display). I think that the image below is about as far as I want to take this approach, and might go for a more conventional viewpoint. Still, for what it’s worth…( done using XSI 6.02, with the Mental Images Architectural material for everything, and Depth of Field from a depth pass driving an IDefocus node in Shake. I also added some grain, which I think often helps to make an image less CGI-like .)


Hey everyone =)

pbalsic: great looking image so far I love the light coming in through the window. I’m curious where the blue light hitting the ceiling would be coming from. Is that a reflection off the ground? And also maybe for the fireplace you could increase the brightness of the light it’s giving off.

Nosferatu8650: Good start. Looking forward to seeing the next renders.

jberan32: Great mood set by the image it’s very warm and soothing. Though I’d suggest a little less blur.

dburdick: Good work so far. It looks like your point lights could cast some more shadows and possibly be angled more to show form. It’s hard to tell so far. Good textures so far!

andystopps: Awesome idea! But I’d have to agree that it’d be difficult to pull off. Maybe if the ornaments were completely mirrors or had a very suddle tint to them it would make it a little simpler to pull off.

As for me I think I’m finished setting up my composition here’s a flatshaded image of what I have so far. I changed the setup of the room quite a bit. I wanted the diagonal of the presents to lead into the fireplace. Also for lighting I wanted a mix from the window, tree lights and fireplace lighting the scene to create a very warm homey feel. I hope I’ll be able to pull it off!


here’s my first render for this scene.

straight lightwave render, no post. except to re-size still need to tackle some texturing before things get more involved.

scene set-up: area light coming from the big door. 2 point lights for some simulated bounce. an exterior distant light for the moon coming in through the window. a point light for the “fire”. and final gather g.i. to fill things in and set the late night mood.

i can see there needs to be more of a rim on the tree from the moon. what else? thx!


-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 =)


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.


This is great. Secret plan: Let’s try to get this thread on the front page by Christmas. :thumbsup:

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.




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 :blush:
Maya with mental ray. 1 Directional light, 1 point light for the fire, 1 point light for fill. Final Gather for bounce.


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…


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.


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.


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!


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 :slight_smile: but if there are problmes let me know and I will try to fix


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?