Matching the Environment - Part 2 - Scanline Renderer
?This is Part 2 of the Matching Environment series. In this tutorial, you learn how to add a compatible lighting scenario to the Scanline Renderer. You will also experiment with optimal lighting adjustments for Scanline.?
- Recorded in: 3ds Max 2014
- This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2014 or higher.
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In this movie, you add a lighting scenario based on a Daylight system.
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The Daylight System simulates the sun and daylight coming from the earth's atmosphere to provide global illumination.
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It can be used both with the Scanline and with the Mental Ray renderers.
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The creation process is the same, the difference lies in the adjustments made to the Daylight System's parameters.
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The project you started so far is using the Scanline renderer, which is the default when you start a new project.
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Continue working on your file from the first movie or open the provided file named Env_scanline.max if you need to catch up.
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As mentioned at the end of the last movie, a render at this point leaves a lot to be desired.
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Make sure you are set in a four-viewport configuration. If you need to, use Alt+W to toggle off full-screen mode.
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Go to the Create > Systems panel and choose the Daylight system.
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A warning appears prompting you to use Logarithmic Exposure Control to compensate for the strength of the Daylight system.
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This type of exposure control is one of the differences between Scanline and mr but more on that later.
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Click Yes to continue.
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Click and drag somewhere in the top view to create a rose compass and then drag a bit more and click to define the Orbital Scale.
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The background picture was taken at 10am, so make that adjustment accordingly.
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You can even set the Geographic location to match the picture in the background.
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For now though, simply adjust the North Direction so that the shadows match between 3D elements and background shadows.
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A value of about 245 degrees should be adequate.
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Render the camera view again. There are a few problems to overcome.
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You can certainly see the effect of the direct light (the sun) casting shadows on the ground.
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The ground itself should be invisible though, except for the fact that it's receiving shadows.
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Also, the general ambient illumination generated by indirect lighting (bouncing light) is a little flat and requires some work.
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There is also another problem that's quite important:
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Notice how the shadows seem to be cropped in this area.
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This can happen sometimes depending on where you placed the Daylight System.
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In its simplest form, the Daylight System uses a Direct light to simulate the sun, and in this case, the light beam is simply not large enough.
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To see it better, enable the Show Cone option.
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Sure enough, you can now see that the beam is too narrow.
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The light itself extends beyond the beam limits courtesy of the Overshoot option but the shadows are restricted within the beam area.
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Temporarily disable the Overshoot option and set the Hotspot/Beam value large enough to encompass the scene.
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For the scene in this movie, a value of 25~30m should do.
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Enable Overshoot again as this ensures the light itself extends beyond the beam as it was by default, and then disable Show Cone.
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Test render again.
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Now the shadows are a bit more accurate.
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Next, you take a look at how to make the ground invisible, except for its ability to collect shadows.
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Go to the Slate Material Editor and add a Matte/Shadow material to the viewer.
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Double-click its node to see its properties.
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Make sure it's set to receive shadows and apply it to the ground plane.
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Render again; this time, the ground is invisible and the shadows look like they're cast on the sidewalk.
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The shadows are black though, but you can control the color and density.
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Note how the tree shadows in the back have a slight tint of blue.
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In fact, right-click on the tree shadows in the rendered scene. An eyedropper appears.
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This gives you feedback on the sampled color and even places it in the color swatch.
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This means that you can now copy that color swatch with a right-click,
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And then in the Modify panel, paste it as a shadow color for the light.
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The difference is subtle but certainly visible.
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Dismiss the Render window and the material editor for now.
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Next you tackle the global illumination problem.
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Using the Scanline renderer, you are more or less restricted in your approach.
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You can certainly try and add other light sources here and there but that beats the purpose of using the Daylight System.
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The Daylight System is made of a Sunlight source for direct illumination and a Daylight source to provide global or indirect illumination.
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At this point, the Daylight source is using a Skylight option but the Scanline renderer is not really taking advantage of it yet.
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In order to take advantage of the Skylight, you use a tool called Light Tracer.
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This can be accessed from the Rendering menu.
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This activates the Light Tracer tool and gives you a set of default parameters.
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The two most important parameters are Rays/Samples and Bounces.
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The Bounces value controls the accuracy of the solution while the Rays/Samples value controls the quality.
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The higher these values, the better the solution but the longer the rendering time.
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Leave Bounces at 0 and decrease the Rays/Samples to 50.
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Test render the camera view.
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It doesn't look too different from earlier, that's because the Bounces value is at 0.
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Increase the number of bounces to 1 and try again.
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The rendering is slightly longer now but it does look better.
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You'll worry about the noisy textures in a second, first deal with the general illumination.
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Increase the Global Multiplier to 4 or 5 and try again.
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Once you're satisfied, you can increase the Rays/Samples value for a better quality rendering.
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Try it at 500 or even 1000 if you have a good computer system.
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The scene is starting to look good but there are a few limitations inherent to the Scanline renderer and the Light Tracer engine.
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This scene was reasonably quick to render but it isn't a very heavy scene to begin with.
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The Light Tracer engine has been known to choke with heavier scenes.
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The Materials currently used are all based on the Standard material.
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The render looks fine in this case but not very natural and a bit CG-like, especially when it comes to reflective materials like metal and glass.
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Also the current shadows are very crisp, in fact too crisp, even for a sunny day.
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This is down to the fact that the light used to simulate the sun is based on a direct light casting Ray Traced Shadows.
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You could switch to Shadow Maps for softer shadows but then you lose the transparency effect for transparent shadows.
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You can try and fiddle with Adv. Ray Traced options to get softer shadows,
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or you can use a completely alternative approach using Mental Ray.
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By the same token, you will learn to use materials that are more natural-looking and integrate better with the environment.
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This is what you do in the next movie.