Its interesting that this approach of yours with smart objects is similar to what I do with Reality/Lux, to work lights intensity and color while rendering when I can see all shadows properly. Lux also has a list of kinds of old films aspects we can apply to the image, similar to what you are doing with photo filter (but I’m guessing photo filter will have more resources than this).
I started playing with Uber-Things thinking in cutting the huge time Lux takes to render a big image. But then I noticed that when we use UE2 on its full power the time will be also huge (still to do a proper comparation), so maybe your idea will help lower render time since youre rendering only a light for each layer (or are you? Or there are the eight distant lights on each layer?)
Anyway, I know now we just cant do great renders in one minute (or sixty! (: ), which makes even more valuable the topic of this thread, we have to work very well all details before going to the final render.
Yeah, I love Reality but I’ve been pushing myself to learn more native DAZ lighting and surfaces. Right now, I feel like I have a better handle on lighting in Reality (using my photo background) but a better handle on surfaces in DAZ so it’s a bit of a toss up on which way I want to go. I’ve heard of some tricks for speeding up renders in Reality but I’ve yet to try them out yet so I can’t really comment on whether that will help things out.
For the example I showed above I did render each light individually, the images shown are the layers for the 4 lights I used (all spotlights); main, fill, bounce and rim. The final image was the merged image (with the colours adjusted) with some additional filters applied. Rendering 1 light at a time can make a big difference in your render times so if you’re comfortable with working with the layers in post it can be a great way to get quicker renders and better control. The more lights you’re using the more benefit you’ll see but then you do need to be pretty organized with your renders so that you don’t lose track of which ones you’ve already done and then there’s more layers to work with in PS too.