The problems with Stock Studio HDRI

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Here at Lightmap, developers of HDR Light Studio, we believe passionately that every 3D render deserves customized hand-crafted lighting. That’s why we don’t sell packs of stock studio HDRI maps.

OK, so you've got lots of stock studio HDRI maps you have collected over time. But which one will light your scene best? There's only one way to find out.... try out each HDRI map, one at a time, rotate it, and hope for the best.

Is this trial and error approach really a professional approach to lighting? No, and here are our thoughts on why:

You don't improve as a 3D artist

Lighting is one of the most exciting stages in creating 3D images. Lighting can make or break the quality of your final image. Carefully positioning lights and reflections will bring the form and materials of your 3d model to life. More importantly, a badly placed reflection can ruin your image too.

Learning to light properly by adding one light at a time, whatever software is used, is an essential skill for a 3D artist that can be used on every future project. Using pre-made stock HDRI maps does not teach you how to light properly and you will not improve as an artist by using them.

Your images look the same as everyone else

Using stock studio HDRIs means your renders won’t stand out from the crowd. The most useful stock studio HDRI maps are often the most generic and bland, allowing them to light most scenes in a boring way. A stock environment map gives your final image that standard CG lighting look.

You're wasting your time

It’s such a random process. Testing out each HDRI map in turn and rotating it to try and get a good result is not an efficient or smart approach to lighting. You have been very intentional with the other parts of your scene, the modeling and materials, why leave the lighting to chance?

Collecting a wider choice of HDRI maps doesn't help. It will take even longer to test out more maps and decide which to use, and you might still not be able to get the look you want.

Lack of lighting control

You may quite like the lighting effect from your stock studio HDRI map, but if you want to tweak it a little? You can’t change the size, color, or position of a light on a fixed HDRI map. It’s these lighting adjustments that make the difference between an 'OK' or 'Amazing' shot.

Your only control with a stock studio HDRI map is to rotate it and change the brightness of the whole thing. That is not enough control.

Costs add up

If you are buying sets of stock studio HDRI maps to get the range of lighting looks you want, then these small costs can add up over time - especially when considering all of the limitations mentioned above. If you use the same few environment maps over and over again, it’s a good investment, but your images will all have the same feel.

Don't settle for the limitations of stock studio HDRI maps

HDR Light Studio software provides a smarter approach to lighting your shots, using the advantages of HDRI maps – fast render times, easy to use, and physically based photo-real final rendering. It's the only software application that's dedicated to the creation and control of HDRI maps for image-based lighting.

Make Studio HDRI Maps

HDR Light Studio allows you to quickly and easily create your own studio HDRI maps. Light sources can be interactively moved around the HDRI map, scaled, rotated in 3-axis, the color changed, brightness changed… all this with instant feedback in the render view.

Using HDR Light Studio you can learn to light like a pro and improve as a 3D artist. You will have total control over the lighting and can make unlimited adjustments. You will be able to light shots faster and the end result will be a unique studio lighting setup for 3D renders that stand out from the crowd.

This entry was posted in Lighting Demos, Tutorials and Tips.