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Lighting La Salle Chapter 1: Sunset/Sunrise

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Date Added: 24th April 2012
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Some distinct characteristics of a "Sunset" condition are the very long and soft shadows, with burnt yellow colors on directly lit areas.

Most objects affected by the sun rays at this time of the day appear to have a "rim" of burnt yellow color that propagates towards brighter hues of yellow.

Also, due to its low intensity, the overall environment is somewhat darker.

This phenomenon occurs mainly due to the earth's position at that particular time of the day.

Mental ray is equipped with all the necessary tools to emulate the above mentioned effects.

Let's start by opening the Max file.

Next, open the "render setup" dialog box (press F10).

In the "common "parameters rollout, pan down to the "assign renderer" rollout and click on the "production" toggle to load the "mental ray renderer". Choose it and close the dialog box. (Fig.01)

Fig. 01

Note that the system's unit setup is already set to meters, and the rendering output size to 500x234 pixels. With the image and pixel aspect locked.

The camera position is also set and locked.

Next, we are going to create the daylight system, to set the shadow directions.

Make sure you have all four of the viewports available so you can have full control of the daylight system creation.

Create the daylight system by first clicking on the "create" main tool bar.

On the dropdown list, choose lights, followed by daylight system.

The daylight system creation dialog box should be prompted. Accept it, followed by left clicking and dragging the cursor to start the creation.

On releasing the mouse to complete the compass creation, the mental ray sky dialog should be prompted. Accept it to continue the creation.

Continue the creation by moving the cursor up or down to set the distance of the daylight object from the compass helper.

Once satisfied, simply left click to finish the creation. Click the "select and move" tool from the toolbar to complete and exit the creation. (Fig.02a and Fig.02b)

Fig. 02a

Fig. 02b

Note that, the" mr exposure" and "mr sky" dialogs will not appear if both of these toggles are not empty.

Now we have the daylight system created we can begin setting the shadow directions.

Prior to that, we are going to disable the final gather, for quick rendering results, and enable the hardware shadings function.

Convert the camera viewport from box visual style to smooth + highlights mode.

Click on its icon; on the dropdown list, choose the "lighting and shadows" function, followed by "enable hardware shading". (Fig.03)

Fig. 03

Next, select the daylight system object and open the "modify" command parameters.

By default its position is set to "date, time and location". Change it to "manual", and begin moving around the daylight system object.

The sun shadows should be considerably long and of "burnt yellow" colour, to resemble a sunset. (Fig.04a and Fig.04b)

If you are experiencing difficulties with your graphics card, simply disable the hardware shadings function, and click render (Shift + Q), to see the results.

The shadow position seems ok now. The next step is to use a basic material override color to further tweak the daylight system's color and intensity.

Fig. 04a

Fig. 04b

Enable the final gather and open the material editor (M).

Select the basic "wall (pearl finish)" material slot, from the "material editor".

This shader has the "ambient/reflective occlusion (3dsmax)" applied to its diffuse toggle.

On the "render setup" dialog, open the "processing" rollout and enable the "material override" function.

Back on the "material editor", drag and drop the "wall (pearl finish)" onto the "material override toggle. Choose the "instance" copy method, on the "instance (copy) material" dialog. (Fig.05)

Click render (Shift + Q) to assess the changes.

Accept to "continue" in the "missing map coordinates" dialog.

Fig. 05

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