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Realistic Looking Indoor Lighting
Posted: 02 December 2012 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I have been working on some indoor scenes and trying to figure out how to light them to get realistic looking lighting. I have tried a lot of different things based threads I have read here and on my photography experience. Some things did not so at all as I expected, but I have found some things that are giving me pretty good results. I’m posting this thread to share my ideas and look for suggestions on how to improve the results.

The scene I’m using for this discussion is shown below. This is Michael 5 and Victoria 5 in the Media Room of the Dream House. They are actually sitting in the back of the Media Room, which has some funny shaped ceilings. There are no lights added in the image below. This is just the DAZ default lighting. Render time was 11s.

All renders in this thread were done with “Shading Rate” set to 0.2 the “Shadow Samples” set to 32.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It actually is not that bad, just a little dim.

The first thing I decided to try was the UberEnviroment2 light. I added the base light to the scene and the 4xHi quality preset. Then I changed the mode to “Ambient”.  Render time was still 11s

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Posted: 02 December 2012 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, that was a disaster. That lighting is not even good enough for bad comic books. Clearly not what I want at all.

The next thing I tried was to change the mode to “Occlusion w/Soft Shadows”.  Rendering time went up to 1 min 17s.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That looks pretty dark. If I boast the “intensity Scale” to 1000%, then I get something like this:

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Not as dark, but horribly noisy. At this point I was not using a HDRI image on the UE2 dome. The dome is outside this room. The dome is lighting up the outside of the Media Room set, not the inside. The only light that is getting inside is coming through the window.

I tried scaling the UE2 dome to be inside the room, but that did not seem to help. I tried putting the kitchen HDRI preset on the dome. That didn’t help.

At this point I decided UE2 doesn’t work very well for lighting indoor sets, or at least I have no clue how to use it for indoor sets. I decided to move on and try some other kinds of lighting.

The first thing I tried was to add Linear Point Lights (LPL). These are sort of like regular pointer lights, but much more powerful and you can control how far the light extends. I placed 3 LPLs in a row left to right and in front of Michael and Victoria and 2 LPL lights behind them. I put the lights well above their head levels, but not all the way up at the ceiling. The location of a LPL will not show in the render, unless it is right next to something to illuminate. In this case none of the LPL are actually in the render. I only put 2 behind them because of the room is narrower behind them and there was not room for another.

I tweaked the intensity of the lights. Finally ended up using around 40%.  I left the Falloff Start at the default 33. I set the Falloff End at 1000, so the lights would overlap a lot and even out the lighting. This is the result. Render time is 11s.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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This is amusing to watch, in a good way smile
I recognize the struggeling with lightening and feeling lost in all the possibilities…

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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This is starting to look like real lighting. The faces are still not lite very well. The LPL lights are set not to cast shadows, so we don’t really get the shadows you would expect from overhead lighting. The next thing I tried was turning on ray traced shadows on all the LPL lights. Ray tracing all those shadows did not come cheap. Render time jumped to 4min 49s.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Now we have got shadows. Too many shadows in my opinion. All these shadows going in different directions looks jarring. Not what I am looking for. After some experiments I decided to only allow the light nearest the window in front of M5 and V5 (camera right) to cast shadows and turned the shadows off on the other 4 lights. Render time improved to 1m 3s.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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These shadows look more pleasing to me, but they still are too hard. I would expect softer shadows. There is a “Shadow Softness” on the LPLs and you don’t have to set it very high to get nice softness. Below is a render with “Shadow Softness” at 5%. Render time was 1m 34s.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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This is starting to look pretty good. The one thing I don’t like is the faces of M5 and V5 are kind of dark. They are being illuminated from above, and they just don’t have any pop to them. That can be a legitimate choice for how you want to light the scene, but I would like to liven it up a bit.

There are several approaches I could take to this. I don’t really want to to increase the intensity of the LPL lights because they will start to blow out the white walls. I could add one or two spot lights to light up M5 and V5 or perhaps just their faces. That can be effective, but it can also look artificial.

The approach I took was to add a UberAreaLight Plane (UALP). The UALP acts like a light, but it is really a sort of light emitting surface. DAZ does not treat it as a light. You have to go to the Surfaces tab to control the light. The UALP acts like a soft box. It will cast soft shadows if you have it reasonably close to your subject, but I used it in a way you could never use a real soft box. I put it around the camera, with the camera poking through the UALP. I moved the UALP to the same X, Y, Z as my Camera. I rotated it to the same y-rotate and z-rotate. The x-rote was set plus 90 deg from the camera.

The main quality knob on the UALP is the “Samples” property. I set it to 64. The default is 8. I set the intensity at 50%. The UALP has a fall off feature too, although it is off by default. I turned it on and set the Falloff start to be just behind M5 and V5, and the Falloff End just a little father. This allows me to abruptly cut off the light from the UALP to illuminate M5 and V5, but not the walls or other objects behind them. The result is shown below. Render time was 5m 50s.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I’m pretty happy with this result. I think this lighting looks realistic for an indoor scene, and it gives the main characters some pop without looking artificial. The UALP adds quite a bit to the render time, but I think It is worth it.

If you want to reduce the shadow under M5’s chin more, you could re-introduce the UE2 light set on ambient mode with the intensity in the 10-20% range. Below is the image with UE2 set at 10%. Render time was 5m 40s.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The ambient light lowers the contrast a little and perhaps makes the image more appealing. It is a matter of taste.

So this is as far as I have gotten with lighting this kind of scene. I’m pretty happy with the result, and the render time is not too bad for this simple scene. I deliberately put short hair on V5 to keep the render time down. Long hair will drastically increase the render time.

I am open to suggestions for tweaks or whole different approaches that might give even better results.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I always add color to the lighting.
Just a tiny shade of orange/yellow or green/blue makes a notable difference.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Your problem with UE2 using occlusion was the trace distance - by default it’s too high for interiors, meaning that the walls block all of the light - lowering it to something like 100 or less would allow occlusion from the furnishings and figures without killing all of the lighting.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Estroyer - 02 December 2012 05:17 AM

I always add color to the lighting.
Just a tiny shade of orange/yellow or green/blue makes a notable difference.

Actually, I added some color to the UberAreaLight plane. I used 255, 225, 215, which is light pink to put some color in the figures. The UALP is only contributing some fill, so the effect is not that obvious.

I tried adding a little color to the LPL, but the white walls picked up the color and I did not like that. I left the LPLs white. I set the fall off on the UALP so that none of its light reaches any of the walls you can see in the picture.

One thing I forgot to explain is why I positioned the UALP around the camera. I wanted the UALP to act like fill light to boast the lighting on the main figures. I didn’t want it to introduce new shadows. Because of the size of the UALP it should only create soft shadows, but by placing it around the camera, the camera will not see any shadows created by light, but it will light the surfaces the camera can see. You can do the same thing with a spot light.

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Posted: 02 December 2012 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Richard Haseltine - 02 December 2012 05:43 AM

Your problem with UE2 using occlusion was the trace distance - by default it’s too high for interiors, meaning that the walls block all of the light - lowering it to something like 100 or less would allow occlusion from the furnishings and figures without killing all of the lighting.

I reduced the trace distance to 100 and tried again with only the UE2 and set to occlusion soft shadows. The result below is much improved over the ambient mode image, but it has issues. I could certainly brighten up M5 and V5, but I’m not sure how to make the wall illumination more even.

I tried mixing this lighting at 10%-20% with my LPL and UALP lighting, but it did not seem to fill the shadow areas as much, which makes some sense since occlusion is suppose to be creating those shadows.

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