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Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...

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abie silvaNeed Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 22, 2008 at 6:33:35 pm

So I'm putting together a broadcast design reel and have quickly realized that my lighting / rendering skills are in the gutter to say the least. I've been using 3D Invigorator Pro for AE but I don't seem to be getting the vivid, reflective renders that I know I can get with Mental Ray for Maya. So I've just been using it to create the 3D models of network logos and the like due to it's seemingly limitless beveling capabilities; I've read Lighting and Rendering by John Birn, the Learning Maya 5: Rendering book that I've had since this version was new. However, I need something more in the line of execution, more hands-on; I went over to the Gnomon Workshop to pick up some of the Rendering DVD's there but I found myself wondering if after lighting all of these scenes, would it be at all relevant for the broadcast design arena. I mean, if I learn how to make an old abandoned church look creepy with Mental Ray, is that going to help me pump out renders like Troika did for the their NFL / NBC promo package ( http://www.troika.tv/casestudies/NFL/page_01.html )? Hopefully, someone out there will understand my dilemma and offer some insight; at this point, any will be greatly appreciated.


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Nel SantiagoRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 22, 2008 at 7:19:59 pm

Hey Abie,
wish I could help you with Maya, as it's a great program. But most of my experience has been with Electric Image and Cinema 4D.

There are however a few things you can do to make your scenes and composites look a little more like what you are chasing. Reflections are not everything, and turning them on to 100% can just kill your render times.

I like to build my shaders with just a little bit of reflection to them maybe 6%. I also adjust the color of the specular to have a complimenting highlight, so if the shader is red, the specular highlight would have a tint of yellow or orange to it. Transparency is another place where you can loose a lot of time rendering so use it selectively. I tend to render out my 3D in passes. So the faces, bevels, and other parts are individual objects. In Cinema 4D you can easily do this with object buffers, I'm sure there is something similar in Maya.

This allows me to drop them into After Effects and use a combination of overlay settings to make them pop. Giving you a more blended look. It can be useful when doing logos over video too, you can use all sorts of track mattes to do some fancy reveals. Another popular thing to do is to use hidden or invisible reflection objects, these are usually a sphere with a reflection map that everything in your scene reflects but that your camera does not see. This allows you to use custom environment maps in your specific shader and also reflect the hidden object that can be animated over time to create animated gleams on your logos.

There are sooo many ways of adding that kind of magic to your projects without having to hit large render times within your 3D app. Hopefully that will give you a few ideas of where to go. If you have access to Cinema 4D you can go to my site and check out the goodies section, those files use some of these techniques...and are free of charge. One other thing to look into is Knoll Light Factory, Troika makes great use of those and they help add a new level of quality to any 3D work.

All the Best,
Nel

http://www.ForbiddenSky.com


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abie silvaRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 22, 2008 at 7:54:02 pm

Thanks for the post Nel; your info is useful and greatly appreciated. So often I've wanted to abandon Maya all together for Cinema4D. I actually saw it in its first release and all I have heard are good things about it, how it's geared specifically for Motion and Broadcast design; from what I can see by your work, it really is. Impressive body of work, by the way. Before I head for the hills though, I want to make sure that I give Maya all I've got, after all, I'm still paying back school loans for going to school to learn it. So before I take on another 3D package, I want to make sure that I can learn all that I can from the one I'm already familiar with. However, I will definitely be picking it up in the future, no doubt.



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Nel SantiagoRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 22, 2008 at 8:08:27 pm

I appreciate the kind words. Thank you. To me 3D is 3D, you're right though... some apps are just set up easier for certain kinds of work. Maya is a great app, and capable of some amazing things. The good thing is most those techniques will work with any 3D app out there, it's all in the approach taken. A nice mix of After Effects and 3D moves, usually yield better results in my opinion. Good luck with your projects! You're on the right track.

-N

http://www.ForbiddenSky.com


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 22, 2008 at 9:14:30 pm

I am a 3D Studio Max Version 8 user - I've been working with Max and various other 3D packages (including Invigorator - although it's not quite 3D) for about the last ten years. I find that getting 3D to look "real" involves studying what the real stuff looks like. I've spent a lot of time on Neil Blevins' site:

http://www.neilblevins.com/cg_education/cg_education.htm

What he's teaching is Max oriented, but the shaders and renderers can pretty much do the same thing in any package. In my use of Invigorator, I find that the most important part of making it look right is never using the reflection maps that come with the package. I'm Art Director at a broadcast TV station, and most of what I do is special opens, full graphics packages for our News, and other elements for Promotions and a daily magazine-format half-hour News show. If you can get the texture-mapping and lighting nailed, you will find that everything else will be kicked up a couple of notches in production values. Look at what looks the best on the air - most of the time you won't find much more than a slow camera tilt, or a "mother ship" flyover. There's not much time to get to the hero shot, so you have to put everything into the model, be it text, logo, or a construct of some sort.

I would say spend a couple of weeks with Neil Blevins, and become a student of reality - your lighting, materials, and reflection maps will thank you for it.

Joe Bourke
Art Director / WMUR-TV


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abie silvaRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 2:16:39 am

Thanks for the input Joseph; It's good to hear from folks that do this on a daily basis. It has been quite frustrating experience trying to find information that relates to the use of a 3D package for broadcast design specifically. I've been really working on being "fast" on account of the deadline issue that you mentioned. Actually, that is when I noticed how much I stunk at lighting. I was done with the Modeling, camera setup and animation really quickly, but when it came to the lighting and rendering, I knew I had issues. I mean, I can set up a 1, 2, or 3 point lighting rig, but I feel like I'm guessing most of the time and I don't really know what lights are supposed to do what. So, I'll check out Neil's site asap. Thank you again for the time. I'm sure to join your ranks someday, I hope I don't get too old while learning all of this stuff to get there.



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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 7:36:45 pm

Abie -

One of the most important things you can know about 3D lighting is to make sure you turn "falloff" on for all of your lights. I'm pretty sure that should be available in Maya. In 3D Studio, there are a couple of choices for falloff. What it does, in a nutshell, is to make the light behave the way lighting does in the real world. Your models will no longer have the flat looking lighting that they generally have with straight lights, and the overall effect is much more subtle. Another thing you can do is with shiny objects, to have lights that are there purely to create specular highlights on the objects - in other words you turn OFF the ambient part of the light. This then allows you to animate the lights, and control the movement of highlights without messing up your ambient light setup (which might well be 3-point lighting).

And don't worry about getting too old - I've been working in broadcast graphics and 3D for over 15 years, and I'll be 60 next year. You're never too old to learn something new.

Joe Bourke
Art Director / WMUR-TV


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abie silvaRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 8:53:59 pm

"Another thing you can do is with shiny objects, to have lights that are there purely to create specular highlights on the objects - in other words you turn OFF the ambient part of the light. This then allows you to animate the lights, and control the movement of highlights without messing up your ambient light setup (which might well be 3-point lighting)."

John you have just unknowingly solved one of my biggest mysteries. I just knew that animating a light on any given surface had to be how they got those spec highlights to run across objects. I used to try and end up frustrated b/c my entire lighting setup would get altered when trying to do this inside of my 3D package. Instead I would fake it somehow in After Effects. So thanks for that! Hey here's a link to the current project that's actually at a stand still b/c of this lighting situation.

http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Mock-news-open/109173





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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 24, 2008 at 5:34:18 pm

You might try a slightly different approach to the problem. I do this in Max all the time. There's a modifier (in Max at least) called Bevel Profile. It allows you to create your text outline, and then create a separate spline, which essentially gets lathed around the text outline to create a very complex look.

There's also (in Max) a modifier called Sweep that allows you to create a custom spline (similar to my description above) that gives you even more control over the mapping coordinates, so that you can assign maps similar to the way you do it in Invigorator, but with a little more control.

I don't know anything about Maya, but maybe there is something along the lines of the above in there - it's a very powerful package.

Joe Bourke
Art Director / WMUR-TV


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abie silvaRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Sep 25, 2008 at 1:06:37 am

I'm not a big fan of the Bevel option in Maya. I feel it is severely limited when compared to other programs like Max and even XSI. My workaround for that is using 3D Invigorator Pro to create my Logos and text models; I'm spoiled by all of the beveling options. Then I just export .obj's and import those into Maya. I agree that Maya is powerful program, but I think that the fact that it offers so many options can be a double edged sword at times and a little intimidating as well. A lot of people tend to shy away from it for that reason.



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abie silvaRe: Need Maya Lighting / Rendering techniques geared toward broadcast design...
by on Jul 1, 2009 at 10:16:08 pm

Mr. Bourke, how are you? Last year you replied to one of my posts and provided me with some great tips and info regarding some Design questions I had. I have taken all of your advice, wanted to thank you and provide a link to a project I recently finished. Thank you so much for all of your insight! I'm almost done putting together a reel and would love to hear what you think. Thank you again.

http://www.behance.net/Gallery/NFL-Promo/177053



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