Category Archives: HDR Light Studio – Feature Focus

Feature Focus: Converting images to .tx files

HDR Light Studio 5 has seen the biggest set of changes we have ever made in the software. Some of those changes can at first seem like a step backwards for our existing users. The way version 5 handles loading image files is a good example.

We had a customer recently report that when a photographer client comes into the studio to art direct the lighting on CGI shots, then it is taking too long to load the huge HDRI maps he brings with him into HDR Light Studio 5, and that HDR Light Studio 4 was much faster.

We decided this subject was worthy of an article to explain the difference between version 4 and 5 in this respect, and check these load times for ourselves. Continue reading

Feature Focus: Render View

Render View

At first glance, the Render View in HDR Light Studio can appear inferior to most modern renderers. First impressions can be deceptive. Let’s find out why the Render View is actually very smart and is making our users more productive than ever.

Tuned to the task in hand
First off, let’s remember the Render View is highly tuned to provide a fast and fluid interface for placing your lights and providing instant visual feedback on the lighting effect on the loaded scene. It’s not a final frame renderer!

The Render View is optimized to light a fixed camera view. Reflections will move position on your 3D model if the camera is moved, so it’s important to choose the camera views you want to light before loading your scene into HDR Light Studio. Your cameras will be imported into HDR Light Studio when using Alembic, FBX or Collada file formats.

Hogging the CPU
In HDR Light Studio 4, the Render View (LiveLight) behaved the same as other progressive ray-tracers. The rendering would start and collect more samples over time to improve the image quality/accuracy. But when the HDRI lighting is changed, the rendering would begin again from scratch using the new HDRI map. The end result: The renderer hogged the CPU and the render quality remained low for all lot of the time whilst lighting the shot.

LiveLight

A Smarter Approach
In HDR Light Studio 5 the Render View is smarter. At a small sacrifice to its speed of collecting samples, once rendering begins, changes to the HDRI lighting do not require the renderer to re-start because the image based lighting is cached. Therefore once the Render View has reached the desired sample level it no longer hogs the CPU and you will always be lighting a high quality view.

Render View

These advantages are less apparent with small simple scenes. But when a larger scene is being lit, it makes a really big difference.

The new Render View in HDR Light Studio 5 is good news for those using our Connections to 3D apps. The Render View can be used at the same time as your 3D apps interactive renderer without hogging the CPU resources. The end result is faster more responsive rendering in your main 3D software.

Additionally, HDR Light Studio 5 can be used on a very modest specification computer, with RAM being the only limiting factor in being able to load and light larger models. Because the render view is not invalidated with each lighting change, the longer the view collects samples, the higher quality render you are lighting. This makes HDR Light Studio responsive even on a 2 core computer.

No special graphics card or drivers are required as the Render View is CPU based only. So HDR Light Studio also plays very nicely with GPU renderers and is not competing for GPU resources.

Feature Focus: Canvas Zooming

Just one of the many new features in HDR Light Studio 5 is the ability to zoom into the HDRI design. Older versions of HDR Light Studio had a fixed size HDR canvas and only displayed the entire HDRI map. You couldn’t make the canvas any bigger or zoom into details.

In HDR Light Studio 5 you can zoom into any area of the map and see just how much detail and quality is contained within the image based light sources that come with the software. Here is a great example, see the detail contained within the bulb, both the dynamic range and resolution. You would never know it had that level of detail unless you zoomed in.

Canvas Zoom - Fine Detail