Visual Effects for Film

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3D process 02 – where the magic happens but without the magic button

In this post, we’ll continue to talk about the process of 3D making including lighting, rendering and final compositing. Although compositing is not really a part of 3D process, but it’s a very important step where all the 3D elements been put together. So we’ll briefly introduce the concept of compositing here. For other compositing purpose such as keying, roto and wire removal, please check out our other posts.

4. Lighting

If you ever turn on a light in a dark room so that you can see everything clear in the room, then you get the idea why this step in 3D is necessary. Without light, everything is dark. But even with light, the light won’t automatically work exactly like a real world light. In real world, all you need to do is put the light in the position with the intensity and color you want and the light itself will do the rest. When this light illuminates¬†the room, the light rays will hit objects and create shadows. Yet some of the light ray will bounce around, reflect, refract or be absorbed. It all happens so naturally. But in 3D software, all those things will have to be adjusted and set up. Even the softness of the shadows will have to be set up manually. The shading setting of 3D objects and the render setting of the 3D scene will affect how the light performs as well. A lighting artist will have to work closely with shader/texture and render artists to create the most realistic, interesting, or dramatic look.
5. Render

Now the 3D scene will be passed to a render artist to finish this last step in 3D. Render is a process where the computer generates images based on the settings that all the previous artists did. The render artist will have to set up the render based on the 3D objects and light setting. The more function or quality the artist turns on, the more time it’ll need to render each frame. So it’s very important to do this step just right so you get the best quality but not wasting too much time. Quite often the render artist also has to set up several different render passes. Everything we see in the real world is a combination of all those passes. There is color, texture and light all work together so you see certain object as it is. In 3D, since all those have to be set up manually, it’s also possible to only show color or certain light information such as reflection in one rendered image. The reason for doing this is that with all those attributes separated in different passes, the compositor can very easily to adjust each part to reach the best result. Such as increase the reflection but not brightening up the whole object.
6. Compositing

This leads us to enter the last step of creating the final image. A compositor might receive several passes for one object so he can put those all together and adjust each passes to reach final result. He will also receive several passes for different objects, such as background piece, character or creature, and plates. He will have to layer those all together accordingly and do the final touches to make sure they all look good together. And finally, after so many people put in hours and hours of hard work, we finish a shot or an image with some 3D objects in it.

2 responses to “3D process 02 – where the magic happens but without the magic button

  1. Jayashri 2015/03/16 at 2:37 AM

    Good discussion…! I like it.

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