Essential CG Lighting Techniques with 3ds Max P1

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Essential CG Lighting Techniques with 3ds Max P1

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From architecture to animation, film to photography, the vital role of lighting is understood across a whole spectrum of creative disciplines. The modernist architect Le Corbusier poetically summed up the considerable role it plays in his quote, above. Though speaking specifically about architecture, his words express succinctly just why lighting is so important in the world of 3D. Equally, he speaks for those working across the full spectrum of visual arts.

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  1. Essential CG Lighting Techniques with 3ds Max
  2. Dedication To Georgina for being my guiding light.
  3. Essential CG Lighting Techniques with 3ds Max Darren Brooker AMSTERDAM • BOSTON • HEIDELBERG • LONDON • NEW YORK • OXFORD PARIS • SAN DIEGO • SAN FRANCISCO • SINGAPORE • SYDNEY • TOKYO Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier
  4. Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA First edition 2003 Second edition 2006 Third edition 2008 Copyright © 2003, 2006, 2008, Darren Brooker. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved The right of Darren Brooker to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. Permissions may be sought directly from Elsevier’s Science & Technology Rights Department in Oxford, UK: phone (+44) (0) 1865 843830; fax (+44) (0) 1865 853333; email: Alternatively you can submit your request online by visiting the Elsevier web site at, and selecting Obtaining permission to use Elsevier material Notice: No responsibility is assumed by the publisher for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions or ideas contained in the material herein. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book is availabe from the Library of Congress ISBN: 978-0-2405-2117-6 For information on all Focal Press publications visit our web site at Printed and bound in China 09 10 11 12 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  5. Contents at a glance 1 Introduction 1 Part 1 > Theory 2 A little light theory 9 3 CG lights examined 29 4 Understanding shadows 45 Part 2 > Techniques 5 Basic lighting techniques 63 6 Further lighting techniques 79 7 Radiosity techniques 99 8 Indoor lighting techniques 117 9 Outdoor lighting techniques 149 10 Rendering with mental ray 175 11 Match lighting 203 12 Lighting Analysis 225 13 Lighting and lens effects 237 14 Compositing 255 Part 3 > Tips & tricks 15 In production 283 Part 4 > Taking it further 16 Composition and drama 303 17 Camerawork and technicalities 329 18 Looking further 349 Appendices A About the DVD 365 B Glossary 371 C Bibliography 383 Index 389
  6. vi CONTENTS Table of contents About the author xii Acknowledgments xiii Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Who this book is for 3 How to use this book 4 Tutorials 5 Software requirements 5 Part 1 > Theory Chapter 2 A little light theory 9 Real world lighting explained 9 The visible spectrum 10 Color mixing 11 Our perception of light 12 Color temperature 13 Color balance 14 The behavior of light 17 Understanding the qualities of light 20 Chapter 3 CG lights examined 29 Lights in CG 29 Standard lights 30 Sunlight and Daylight systems 38 Photometric lights 39 The anatomy of a CG light 41 Chapter 4 Understanding shadows 45 The importance of shadows 45 The technical side of shadows 48 Faking it 54 When to fake 56 To use shadows or not? 57 Shadow saturation 58
  7. CONTENTS vii Part 2 > Techniques Chapter 5 Basic lighting techniques 63 Learning to light 63 Basic three-point lighting 64 Key light 65 Fill light 68 Backlight 69 Key-to-fill ratios 71 Contrast 73 Tutorial > three-point lighting 74 Chapter 6 Further lighting techniques 79 Making light work 79 Other light types 80 Area lights 81 Tutorial > area lights 82 Arrays 85 Tutorial > light arrays 87 Skylights 90 High Dynamic Range imaging 91 Tutorial > HDR skylight 93 Chapter 7 Radiosity techniques 99 Global illumination 99 Light distribution 100 Raytracing 102 Radiosity 103 Radiosity workflow 104 Tutorial > radiosity workflow 109 Chapter 8 Indoor lighting techniques 117 Indoor lighting 117 Outdoor light indoors 121 Tutorial > radiosity techniques 125 Tutorial > simulating global illumination 128 Tutorial > HDR lighting 134 Artificial lighting 141 Tutorial > three-point artificial lighting 142
  8. viii CONTENTS Chapter 9 Outdoor lighting techniques 149 The great outdoors 149 Sunlight 150 Skylight 153 Sunlight and skylight together 155 Tutorial > sunlight and skylight together 156 Night time 159 Moonlight 159 Tutorial > moonlight 161 Street lighting 165 Tutorial > outdoor lighting fixtures 166 Tutorial > neon lighting 169 Chapter 10 Rendering with mental ray 175 Physically-based lighting 175 Tutorial > indirect illumination workflow 180 Tutorial > Global Illumination 182 Floating-point images 186 Tutorial > floating-point images 188 Tutorial > outdoor lighting 192 Ambient occlusion 195 Tutorial > ambient occlusion 196 Caustics 198 Tutorial > caustics with mental ray 199 Rendering options 201 Chapter 11 Match lighting 203 Background plates 203 Lighting reference data 205 HDR 207 Match lighting in practice 210 Match lighting without reference 213 Tutorial > match lighting 214 mental ray production shaders 220 Tutorial > match lighting with mental ray 221 Chapter 12 Lighting Analysis 225 Lighting analysis 225 The Lighting Analysis Assistant 226 Tutorial > lighting analysis 230
  9. CONTENTS ix Chapter 13 Lighting and lens effects 237 Visual hooks 237 Inside the lens 238 Glows 238 Tutorial > glows 242 Lens flares 246 Tutorial > lens flares 247 Highlights 250 Tutorial > highlights 251 Chapter 14 Compositing 255 Post production 255 Compositing 256 Render Elements 259 Tutorial > Render Elements 265 Combustion 269 Tutorial > combustion 270 Taking compositing further 278 Part 3 > Tips & tricks Chapter 15 In production 283 Working efficiently 283 The first step 284 The key 285 Fills and backlights 286 Rendering 287 Revision 288 Production pipelines 289 Modeling issues 290 Texturing issues 291 More revision 293 Preparation 295 Pitching for business 297 Experimentation 299
  10. x CONTENTS Part 4 > Taking it further Chapter 16 Composition and drama 303 Visual storytelling 303 Composition 304 Unity 308 Grouping 309 Emphasis 310 Depth 315 Mood and drama 319 Positive and negative space 325 The rule of thirds 326 Chapter 17 Camerawork and technicalities 329 The camera in 3D 329 Technical aspects 334 Broadcast standards 335 PAL and NTSC 337 Aspect ratios 338 Film formats 341 Reframing 344 Overscan 345 Fields and motion blur 346 Chapter 18 Looking further 349 Looking beyond lighting 349 Brazil 350 finalRender 352 Maxwell Render 354 V-Ray 356 MAXScript 358 Plug-in away 360 Useful websites 362 Studio websites 362
  11. CONTENTS xi Appendices Appendix A About the DVD 365 The companion DVD 365 Software requirements 366 Tutorials 366 Bonus chapters 367 367 367 Calibrate 368 Software 369 Other menu items 369 Appendix B Glossary 371 Appendix C Bibliography 383 Index 389 Bonus DVD content Chapter 1 Lighting for games 1 Games environments 1 DirectX 3 Texture baking 6 Tutorial > texture baking 7 Chapter 2 Antialiasing & Supersampling 1 Antialiasing 1 Supersampling 5
  12. About the author Darren Brooker is an award-winning CG artist, writer and illustrator with over a decade specializing in texturing, rendering and lighting in architecture and post production. He works for Autodesk’s Media & Entertainment division in London, where he specializes in 3ds Max. He has previously worked for leading UK production studios Cosgrove Hall Digital, Pepper’s Ghost and Red Vision. It was at this company that he was part of a team that won a BAFTA for Best Visual Effects. He was also runner-up in the European Junior 3D Animator’s Award and has been shortlisted for the British Book Design and Publishing awards. His writing credits include The Guardian, CGI, 3D World, Computer Arts, Broadcast Engineering News and Creation.
  13. Acknowledgments First of all comes the team at Focal Press who’ve made this title possible. From Marie’s initial approach for a first edition at SIGGRAPH 2000 to the final proofreading stage of this, the third edition, the professional manner in which the production has been overseen has been very much appreciated. This applies equally to the amount of control in terms of layout and design that Focal were willing to give me, which has resulted in a very close match to my initial vision for a definitive lighting text. Particular thanks goes to the folks at Autodesk Media & Entertainment for their continued help and support over the last decade. The European and Canadian Application Engineer teams deserve a special mention for their support and guidance, not to mention the occassional shameless promotion! The majority of renderings featured in this book were carried out at my home, but a lot of this work builds on previous collaboration with London Guildhall University, where the guidance of Mike King and Nigel Maudsley was an enormous amount of help. The design and layout of this book also took place between London and Montreal, with occasional work at the homes of various friends, who deserve thanks for their patience, not to mention their food and accommodation. Thanks go to all the studios and individuals that kindly gave me permission to talk to them about their projects and use their images for print, and also to the individual artists who have been very supportive in this project. You know who you are.
  14. CHAPTER 1 > INTRODUCTION 1 ‘Light and illumination are inseparable components of form, space and light. These are the things that create ambience and feel of a place, as well as the expression of a structure that houses the functions within it and around it. Light renders texture, illuminates surface, and provides sparkle and life.’ 1 Le Corbusier F rom architecture to animation, film to photography, the vital role of lighting is understood across a whole spectrum of creative disciplines. The modernist architect Le Corbusier poetically summed up the considerable role it plays in his quote, above. Though speaking specifically about architecture, his words express succinctly just why lighting is so important in the world of 3D. Equally, he speaks for those working across the full spectrum of visual arts. Though maturing at a rapid rate with each passing software release, when looked at in context of its complementary disciplines, 3D remains a comparatively young industry. As such, many of the techniques that have become established in 3D, particularly around lighting, have grown out of the tried-and- tested conventions from these complementary disciplines. As an Image courtesy of: industry arguably still in its late adolescence, it is still short of Weiye Yin the established techniques of these more mature art forms.
  15. 2 ESSENTIAL CG LIGHTING TECHNIQUES WITH 3DS MAX Indeed, the conventions that exist in the world of cinema took decades to become established, and the pioneers working with the new medium of film started the development of the language of cinematography as we understand it today. As the world of 3D continues to mature, conventions similar to those that now exist in cinematography are becoming established and adhered to. Any medium- to large-scale CG production is has its workflow stratified by specialism, with separate modeling, texturing, animation, lighting, rendering and compositing teams working in parallel on the same production. This mode of operation demands of 3D artists a skillset that is focused on one specific area, yet this knowledge cannot exist in isolation. An understanding of the full production pipeline – from first concept to finishing – is also necessary in order to understand the needs of fellow workers in other teams. In answer to this demand for specialized skills within 3D, this book aims to provide a single volume that looks at both the technical and practical aspects of lighting in CG. It aims to assist you in becoming skilled at using the lighting tools available within 3ds Max, whilst placing this in context of the world of lighting in the complementary visual arts and always looking at this in context of the real world of professional computer graphics production. This book does not only aim to teach the reader the skills demanded of a 3D lighting specialist, it considers the fundamentals, both aesthetic and theoretical, of the real world of lighting, placing this technical knowledge in a wider context. To become skilled at 3D lighting, one must first have a basic understanding of how light works. The emotive power of different hues and color schemes must be comprehended, as must the manner in which the construction of a system of lights unifies a scene, bringing everything together as a cohesive whole that reinforces the atmosphere of the script. Composition and staging need to be appreciated, as well as the psychological effect that these considerations will convey to your audience. Only once a thorough understanding of all of these factors has been gained can anyone really call themselves a lighting artist. Fortunately, the established rules of cinematography, painting, photography, stage design and architecture can provide many valuable lessons in helping us to understand the wider context in which 3D lighting exists. With a firm grasp of the principles of lighting, you will understand how to set off the hard work of the other teams in your studio (or occasionally even to hide the bad work), bringing about a cohesive image that reinforces the emotions of the storyline. Until a 3D scene has been lit, it remains nothing more than a bunch of polygons, and with the lighting carried out professionally, the work of every team involved shines.
  16. CHAPTER 1 > INTRODUCTION 3 This book will use as a cornerstone the lighting conventions that have already become established within CG, and it will examine those just emerging within professional production environments. It will do this whilst drawing on the complementary arts to look at the lessons to be learned from these time-honored disciplines. Of its four main sections, the first will examine theories to give you a firm foundation on which to build before moving on to sections covering techniques, then tips and tricks – from painting, photography, film and television, stage design and architecture. The final section will reinforce this content with practical knowledge and advice from the real world of 3D production to enable you to take this knowledge further. Whilst all the science will be explained in plain English along the way, this book’s main concern is not with the theory of lighting; its aim is to teach the reader how to apply these lessons in CG, with every ounce of theory backed up by tutorials, and every tutorial placed in context of the holistic world of the visual arts. Who this book is for Professional users: This book is designed to help the experienced 3ds Max user supplement their existing knowledge with new techniques that will provide further creative possibilities and help negotiate the continuing trials and tribulations of the production world. Intermediate users: This book is perfect for the user who already has some working knowledge of 3ds Max and wants to produce more professional results by learning about the techniques of lighting. Beginners: This book aims to cover extensively the skills of 3D lighting in a modular approach that guides the reader step-by-step, using tutorials aimed at teaching the general processes involved rather than the technicalities of dealing with complex 3D scenes. Though the level of content of this book is of a high enough level to appeal to existing 3D professionals, the modular nature of the contents makes it perfect for those relatively new to the subject who wish to gain a particular knowledge of the skills and techniques of lighting. The tone of the book is intended to be clear and concise without being packed full of jargon. However, rather than avoid important industry terms, these will be clearly explained, and
  17. 4 ESSENTIAL CG LIGHTING TECHNIQUES WITH 3DS MAX backed up with clear and colorful images. Tutorials are provided, using both 3ds Max and Combustion, and demo versions of these Autodesk applications are included on the book’s DVD. The tutorials are written in such a way that their content is transferable to other 3D solutions. How to use this book This book is written in a modular fashion, with the information organized into relevant sections to provide a more effective teaching aid. The first section deals with the important theoretical aspects of lighting in a clear and informative manner. Whilst not going into the theory to an unnecessarily deep level, it does attempt to outline the basic principles of light that will serve as a guide to the lighting tasks that lie ahead, before moving onto the theory of lighting in 3D. The newcomer in particular will find that the two theorecitcal components of this section will combine to provide an invaluable reference to appreciating the physical properties and nature of light and how this relates to computer graphics. The second section deals with the specific techniques applicable to 3D lighting and forms well over half of the book’s content. Armed with an understanding from the last section of how lighting operates, both within the real world and the 3D environment, the reader will move on to examine different aspects of 3D lighting, where every ounce of theory is backed up by clear hands-on tutorials. This takes both the aesthetic and theoretical fundamentals of different lighting tasks and breaks each down into a method that fits in with professional 3D pipelines in terms of efficiency and output. After absorbing these technicques, the third section will provide guidelines for using the methods introduced so far in an efficient fashion, as well as tips and tricks for breaking all the rules that have been introduced through faking and cheating, which are both very valuable skills in the world of CG! Knowing which tricks save rendering time and which give the most controllable results allows you, the lighting artist, to work in the most appropriate and flexible way possible. The fourth section looks at wider aesthetic considerations, and how, as a lighting artist you should be concerned with more than just the illumination of your scenes. This final section will show that an appreciation of composition, drama and staging is also a fundamental skill, as is a grasp of the more technical aspects of the job. This section reinforces the concepts introduced thus far and provides several junctions to explore from. From here you should be ready to explore and create all on your own!
  18. CHAPTER 1 > INTRODUCTION 5 Tutorials Rather than being laid out in a methodical and mechanical fashion, the tutorials are designed to be readable and understandable, with decisions put in context of why they were made. However, an attempt has been made to ensure that each numerical value required has been provided so that the reader is not left guessing. Whilst these numbers will yield results that are faithful to the accompanying illustrations, these should not necessarily be taken as definitive, and experimentation and deviation from these values should be encouraged. Software requirements Whilst the concepts discussed throughout the book are applicable to all the major commercial 3D applications, the tutorials are designed to be used with the demo version of 3ds Max (and in the later chapters with Combustion) that can be found on the accompanying DVD; their subject matter can also be easily adapted to any software application. Should you use Maya, Softimage XSi, LightWave or another commercial solution, the techniques and concepts contained in these tutorials will be just as applicable, as lighting skills can be learnt and applied in any of these environments. The more experienced user will be able to transfer the tutorials straight from the page into their particular 3D application, but the less experienced user might first want to run through the tutorials with the demo version of 3ds Max. For the newcomer, the tutorials together with the demo version of 3ds Max provide the perfect starting point to dive headlong into the world of 3D lighting techniques. However, it should be stressed that software is not the main focus of this book – terrible results can easily be produced using the best software and vice versa – its focus is rather an appreciation of the many factors that go together to produce well-lit output.
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