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V-Ray Depth of Field with shade map

By Paul Hatton
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 24th January 2014
Software used:
V-Ray
1832_tid_paul_hatton_-_3d_total_-_vray_dof_-_turn_the_lights_on.jpg

Here we will take a look at rendering in-camera Depth of Field (DOF) using the V-Ray stereoscopic shade map.


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I always prefer rendering DOF in the camera. I don't know why. Maybe I'm a purest and just prefer to get things right up front. But maybe not. I love the bokeh that V-Ray gives me and the control I get over setting its parameters. Despite this love for V-Ray's DOF, it has still always been a bit slow and clunky to adjust. You can imagine therefore my delight when I found a time-saving solution to testing and implementing DOF in-camera. Let me introduce you to it...

What even is DOF?

Good question. It is essentially the distance in front of and behind a specific point which is sharp in the output. We'll call that point the focus point. The size of the area that is sharp as well as the amount of blurriness is dependent on a variety of settings in the camera, which we'll look at in more detail in a minute.

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Here is a great example of a very shallow DOF. The low f-number (4.0) and long focal length (200mm) give this result



A brief word on DOF

Think about it! Don't overuse it or use it incorrectly. This is partly why I find it best to do it in-camera because then the result is correct. Using DOF is a beautiful artistic tool that enables us to bring in an emotive aspect to our visuals. It also helps us to keep the viewer's focus on those areas that we want. There is therefore great power and opportunity with it. Your best bet would be to get out in the real world with a camera and experiment. Get used to how the settings affect the output and grow in confidence that way.

1832_tid_paul_hatton_-_3d_total_-_vray_dof_-_step_2.jpg
The viewer's eye is immediately focused on the leaf. Everything else is so out of focus that the viewer has little choice here. A good example of DOF used artistically. Copyright © Allyson907


Controlling the DOF

As previously mentioned, you can control the DOF with several settings. The 2 main controls we will focus on here are the focal length and the aperture size. In principle, the longer the focal length, the shallower the DOF will be. Obviously a wide angle lens is going to have a wider DOF. In terms of the aperture (f-number or f-stop); basically the smaller it is, the shallower the DOF will be. If you want to make sure that everything is in focus then go for a higher aperture. Please note that these will only affect the DOF if it is switched on in the V-Ray camera.

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Here you can see that the area in focus is greatly adjusted by the f-number



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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
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(ID: 304811, pid: 0) Paul Hatton on Wed, 22 October 2014 4:05pm
There are some huge benefits doing it in camera. Firstly, the result in camera is so much nice and more accurate than doing it in post. Secondly, if you do want to do it properly in pots then you will likely have to purchase a plugin such as Frischluft's lenscare. Thirdly, Relying on something like the ZDepth may work for certain scenarios but it can be really noticeable if done badly. For me, in camera is best if there is the time.
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(ID: 249189, pid: 0) Parthipan on Tue, 04 February 2014 2:56pm
thanks for this tutorial very helpful
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(ID: 247131, pid: 0) Bobby Parker on Fri, 24 January 2014 3:46pm
Great tutorial. I have read about this over on the Chaos Group forum, but I never really knew what they were talking about. Thank you for your time.
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(ID: 246981, pid: 0) Eoin on Thu, 23 January 2014 5:06pm
Hey - thanks for the tutorial. However what are the advantages of this method over applying the depth effect in post-production using a depth map?
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