Lighting Challenges

Posted: September 22, 2010 at 3:40 am

For class we had to do some lighting - CG or real it didn’t matter. I decided to try out one of the lighting challenges and do an “abandoned” and “idealistic” version of the two. Hopefully….you can tell this is the abandoned version.

Overall it was a quick process. I started shading on Saturday and finished lighting on Monday with final render and post work done on Tuesday. I had a series of photos that were my “target” though this photo by RomanyWG on Flickr probably best sums it up:

My lighting setup was Key light casting the window outline onto the floor, a bounce up into the room from that main area, 2 lights for the glow around the two windows, and two lights of bounce back onto the floor near the main area (supposedly being cast from the dust in the air illuminated by the key onto the nearby area).

And for the ideal version…..

My main reference was from a wonderful shot in Ratatouille. Sharon Calahan actually gave a talk on this sequence a few years back at A&M. It’s still easily the best talk I’ve heard in my life.

My lighting setup was a bit more complex in this one as the lights were giving me hard edges and bad falloff all over the place. I decided I was trying to do too much with certain lights, and so I doubled down on a few to give me more control.

My Key is above the scene shining light down through a skylight, partially hitting the stairway, wall, and floor. This helped me motivate a lot more bounced light up into the well to get that really strong glow I was looking for. I have a bounce light on the stairway and another on the floor, as well as one way up near the skylight that illuminates the top of the stairwell wall. I’ve got two more “glow” lights from each of the windows. I have 3 lights simply for wall gradients - one in the stairwell, one on the floor underneath the stairwell, and another near the camera (a negative light! GASP!). The FOV is so extreme the floor looks a lot longer than it actually is so I had to put the negative light to add that extra falloff to fit the perception (aka it looked really flat!). In reality, the camera is about 1.5 stair widths away from the first step on the left. Last but not least - I have 2 lights for bounce up into the stairs on the left and right to shape and brighten them, and one last light simulating bounce off of the particulates in the air into the scene.

And of course….Environment Light for my AO and general ambiance. I experimented with changing my AO color from black to a deep saturated red and good lord it looks good. It totally fits that “surreal warmth” look I was going for. 13 lights total and 5 hours from beginning lighting to final render+comp.

One major major takeaway from this project is how useful reference is. I would find myself getting lost and not having a strong direction. I would remind myself: USE YOUR REFERENCE! Seconds later I would be making huge drastic changes to my setup because it became so overbearingly obvious what was wrong and how to fix it. Putting in the time for strong reference totally pays off in the end.

3 Responses to “Lighting Challenges”

  1. vikram Says:

    tats realy cool scene ,,speacialy the lighting ,, i am very intrested in being a lighting artist and watching works from guys like u is realy inspiring :)

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