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Make Your Most Realistic Renders – Ever!
Posted: 15 July 2013 12:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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thanks for sharing Phil, looking forward to using this idea !

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Posted: 15 July 2013 01:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Just an extra thought for those who are finding the render times a bit long - try using a Carrara dynamic hair rather than a traditional transmapped hair. Not only will it look better (IMHO) but it renders faster, as it is the transparency which is slow to render, and dynamic hair doesn’t use transparency. Just watch out for it rendering too light as stated earlier. Here’s another example.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 01:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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          That looks good!

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Posted: 15 July 2013 02:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I have done a number of simple tests comparing Carrara and Luxrender outputs - here is an example.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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PhilW - 15 July 2013 02:00 AM

I have done a number of simple tests comparing Carrara and Luxrender outputs - here is an example.

Thank you Phil, that explains sooooo much.
Always wondered why Carrara renders were “flat” and bright.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I ran into a huge problem a while ago when changing the gamma for my car renders: It caused banding in textures with gradients (possibly only for gradients to black)  :(

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Posted: 15 July 2013 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Elele - 15 July 2013 04:33 AM

I ran into a huge problem a while ago when changing the gamma for my car renders: It caused banding in textures with gradients (possibly only for gradients to black)  :(

I obviously haven’t tried every combination so that is useful feedback. I would be tempted to try setting the gradient minimum to a “not quite pure black” to see if that helps?

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Posted: 15 July 2013 08:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Phil, this was the single most useful Carrara tip I’ve ever read!

Like you I often noticed, but overlooked the gamma correction setting. Now I can’t believe that the default setting is unselected!

I’ve tested some renders without GI or HDRI maps, just a dome used with environment (anything glows) light and I still see a significant improvement!

Thanks for sharing this “discovery”.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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No Gamma

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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With Gamma 2.2

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Little Contrast and color correction added

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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One thing about “default” settings. If you want them to be good for all users - never ever leave them with settings that are super-hard on the computer - as some people haven’t yet (possibly never will) built a dedicated workstation.
I have - but mine is fairly modest: 8 cores @ 3.2 GHz each, 16GB Pro grade, cooled RAM, High-throughput, military class motherboard, blah blah…
...and still, I prefer my default settings to be the faster options - I can always increase the quality. If the default is too high, you may have to restart the app before a save - simply by attempting a spot render. Okay… enough on that.

For this I used Dimension Theory’s Carraracter - Delphinia (just one of the HDRI that comes with it), a set that I strongly suggest to anyone interested in digging deeper into super high quality results. He includes some more video tutorial - perspectives that can only be acquired through the creative mind of Jeffrey Felt (Dimension Theory), who I’m sure Phil will also recommend. Perhaps if I have some time later tonight, I’ll load one of his shader sets and repeat the experiment. I don’t want to give away any of his secrets. But he uses several global shaders you can apply ranging from Basic (which is excellent) through Advanced, Extreme, and finally - Superior. This will give you results closer to what Phil is showing us in his first example - which I can tell has an incredible shader setup!
My girl, Rosie, is set up for my fast and furious animation renders. I’ve even taken to reducing her texture maps down to 2000 x 2000 at the highest end of resolution. That is where you’ll see my character break down under this sort of experiment - as she is not intended for ultra-realism.

Using DT’s HDRI, I’ve otherwise followed Phil’s instructions. The results really are stunning. The top picture is the experiment as per instructed. The lower is how I normally fake the effect using the highlighting light rig attached to Rosie - so she always has it available - using the defaults I have for her lights - and added in a single distant light at a brightness of 60 casting a slightly yellow-green hue due to what I would do according to seeing the image in the HDR. For that one, the HDRI is not being used as such - but only as a spherical background - no GI or IL - just Rosie’s light rig and a single distant light.

Like I’ve mentioned above, I think that the blotchiness of Rosie’s appearance in the HDRI experiment comes from her lowered resolution. But you can really begin to see that I have successfully optimized her shaders to work with my fast and furious style of rendering and lighting. Well… lighting and rendering. Notice how her eyes sparkle in my fast render. But her hair, I think, looks better in the HDRI version.

So for this method - I would simply adopt a new method of going for a much more superior set of shaders - to make the image worthy of the much longer render times. I forgot to check the log before starting my next render - but this method definitely makes me have to walk away - as it takes a long time to render the subject. The second image was done as I sat and watched for about four minutes.

Again: Top Image - HDRI experiment using 2.2 Gamma
Bottom Image - my usual method of hand placing lights to fake the result

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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After seeing them here, I now remember that one of the lights in Rosie’s rig which should be casting soft shadows is not - which adds to the speed. Once I turn that soft shadow to where it needs to be, it will take a minute or two longer - but still only a fraction of the time.

Still - the GI method certainly turns out amazing results with little to no fuss. To do it my way - you have to have experimented for a few years - or already know how to light your scene - which likely took a few years… because there is nothing automatic about it.

With this HDRI, GI, IL, Gamma 2.2 method, there is no such setup required - which is a huge boon to the method! You can always add some subtle source light somewhere if you feel your scene needs one - say, for the eyes. Rosie has her own special light in her rig with the sole purpose of adding shine to her eyes that took months or longer to tweak to where I really like it.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Thank you, Phil…
This is awesome knowledge! Now I’ll be messing around with ways to optimize such a method - see if I can speed it up some… try various other experiments using Gamma Correction!

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Posted: 15 July 2013 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Yeah, the suggestion of only using an HDRI is really just a starting point. I usually add a low level “normal” light to pick up some highlights, although another way to add highlights is to add a small amount of reflection to any shiny surfaces - 1 or 2% should be enough to get highlights, but keep the surface looking shiny rather than reflective.

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