Home Concept Art VFX lighting artist suggestions by Framestore’s Head of Lighting |CG Spectrum

VFX lighting artist suggestions by Framestore’s Head of Lighting |CG Spectrum


VFX lighting artists and lighting TDs usually must take care of many shifting elements, which might make taking over a larger-scale shot really feel fairly daunting! The most effective methods for a lighting artist to handle their shot is to interrupt their bigger duties into sub-tasks. However the place to start out and how you can break them down?

We requested the Head of Lighting & Look Improvement at Framestore in Melbourne, Drew Wooden-Davies (Ted 2, Recreation of Thrones, John Wick 2 and 3, It: Chapter Two), for lighting recommendation and one of the best ways to method organising and breaking down these daunting duties, each live-action plate photographs and full CG photographs.

What does a lighting artist do?

Lighting artists place digital lights of their photographs and alter them to match the live-action plate or the 3D setting. The position of a lighting artist is each inventive and technical.

  • Artistic position of a lighting artist: VFX lighting is used to create acceptable ambiance (colour tone and hue, depth, temper) for a shot whereas additionally contemplating exterior parts just like the climate and time of day. A VFX lighter’s position is analogous to a movie crew lighting a set to offer it authenticity, continuity, and to assist create a sure tenor. They use numerous shader settings to create results like reflections and the looks of moist surfaces.

JohnWick3_MethodStudios_before_lightingBEFORE: A shot from John Wick 3 earlier than VFX lighting was added. (Picture: Methodology Studios, through Artwork of VFX)

JohnWick3_MethodStudios_AfterVFXLightingAFTER: The identical shot as simply above from John Wick 3, which Drew’s lighting group labored on, including VFX lighting to create ambiance, and a moist look street with reflections. (Picture: Methodology Studios)

  • Technical position of a lighting artist: a part of a lighting artist or lighting TD’s position is optimizing their scene to make it simpler and quicker for computer systems to render them. Earlier than rendering, they may mix numerous CG parts from the manufacturing pipeline, such because the CG setting, animation, and FX, and ensure every thing works within the scene.
VFX Lighting workflow steps

Under are some steps laid out by Melbourne Framestore’s Head of Lighting and Look Dev, Drew Wooden-Davies, on how you can arrange and break down a VFX shot to gentle it successfully— each live-action integration and full-CG photographs—to facilitate a extra environment friendly and artistic workflow within the course of. (Tremendous useful, thanks, Drew!)

How you can arrange a live-action shot for VFX lighting

Figuring out floor fact for lighting live-action integration:

  • Are there any reference parts that you need to use to establish the lighting situations of the plate ingredient (live-action)?
  • Usually there are reference plates that embody gray (18% gray) and chrome balls for reference – these are identified floor truths and may be simply replicated in a digital setting as a way of calibration.
  • Are the any IBL/HDRI’s out there that you need to use to gentle your scene or present clues as to the place, colour, and depth of your lights?
  • If no reference is obtainable, determine any clues within the plate/footage, are there any identified supplies within the scene? Maybe a bit of white painted metallic (60% white) or concrete to assist approximate a fabric response? It’s helpful to keep in mind that CG lighting is additive when compositing however is multiplied in opposition to your diffuse throughout the rendering course of. Taking the above into consideration, we will then reverse engineer our lighting intensities and get an affordable approximation of the scene lighting. It’s simply easy maths.
  • Outline your lights — as soon as you’re assured your identified materials is calibrated, it is possible for you to to reverse engineer the approximate colour and depth of your lights. That is achieved by calculating the distinction between the uncooked diffuse, and desired final result (footage). For instance, as soon as rendered, your digital materials ought to match completely to the plate/footage, from right here, any distinction will should be accounted for in your lighting. When taking this method, all the time set up your ambient (dome/IBL) first, then calibrate every key gentle from most dominant to least.
  • Mild route & shadow high quality — when you’ve decided the depth of your gentle, guarantee its route is appropriate. Current shadows within the footage can present nice clues. How lengthy are they, are they mushy, and so forth.?
  • The above steps may be adopted for one another gentle within the scene, working down from essentially the most dominant lights to these with the least affect.


How you can arrange a CG shot with out footage/plate for VFX lighting

Figuring out the temper and compositional targets:

  • Are there any temper boards or colour scripts that convey the imaginative and prescient for the shot? 
  • Mild high quality — Is it day or evening?
  • Function lights — are there any dynamic lights to be thought of? Flashing lights? Animated neon indicators? Lightning?
  • Are you attempting to convey an emotion utilizing colour? Pink for anger, blue for unhappiness, and so forth.
  • Does your character/topic require specialised lights to assist them learn in opposition to the background (e.g. rim gentle)? Is there a visible language for the lighting that’s already established that must be revered? 
  • Produce as many low cost iterations as you may to hunt approval and extra steering from creatives earlier than getting mounted on an thought. You can end up getting very far down the inventive course of, solely to search out out you took the incorrect route.
Breaking down a VFX shot into layers for rendering

What does your shot/scene encompass — an setting, characters, FX parts? Think about creating separate render layers for every ingredient.

  • Establish the manufacturing milestones and follow these first; for instance, animation approval could also be required forward of setting approval, so it could make sense to focus your efforts there.
  • Establish which datasets/parts are going to be topic to revisions/iterations and place them on their very own layer; a CG Character, for instance, could also be topic to many efficiency revisions. This fashion, they are often rendered/processed independently of different mounted parts, and thus scale back the time between iterations. It will even be helpful to contemplate the weather’ affect on the setting — will it forged a shadow or reflections? And place these on their very own layer as nicely. Having to re-render an costly setting cross each time there may be an animation replace isn’t essentially the most economical workflow.
  • If there are a number of characters, do they work together? If not, maybe they could possibly be rendered individually to forestall re-rendering within the occasion solely one of many different characters has obtained an animation replace.
  • How heavy is your information set? Can all of your parts be rendered collectively, or are there efficiencies to be gained by breaking issues up additional? For instance, an setting could possibly be rendered as foreground, center floor, and background. If later revisions solely have an effect on a couple of of those, render-time could possibly be saved by not having to re-process.
Evaluating your lighting

Carry all the weather collectively early to judge what’s not working, and search additional inventive steering if required.

Lighting your scene in Unreal Engine — scholar examples

CG Spectrum scholar Marc Carratala employed the 3D lighting instruments and methods he discovered as a part of the Actual-time 3D and Digital Manufacturing Course to create a cinematic quick movie in Unreal Engine 5. 

3D Tech/Lighting Artist and CG Pupil, Marc’s quick movie. On his ArtStation, Marc paperwork a few of the gentle placements to exhibit how he created his artistically lit photographs.

Darkish Nebula has been chosen as a finalist for the 2022 Rookie Awards for Movie of the Yr (3D Animation), and Marc can be within the working for Rookie of the Yr (3D Animation). Congratulations, Marc!

One other proficient scholar, Benjamin Oman, discovered lighting fundamentals as a part of CG Spectrum’s Foundations of Recreation Artwork and Animation Course. Now learning the 3D Modeling Course, Benjamin seamlessly utilized his lately acquired lighting data to artistically illuminate his 3D mannequin of Battle Chasers character, Alumon. When tackling the lighting, he stored in thoughts the ideas of three-point lighting on his mannequin by utilizing a directional gentle that lit the entire scene.

Benjamin’s 3D character mannequin of Alumon from the sport Battle Chasers: Nightwar, with VFX lighting utilizing Unreal Engine 4.

Benjamin additionally had a helpful tip for these wanting so as to add ambient god rays: “use Exponential Peak Fog and mess around with the scattering settings from the directional gentle plus the Peak Fog.”

He additionally recommends testing CG Spectrum Mentor William Faucher’s Youtube tutorial on lighting a night-time exterior which is what impressed Ben’s lighting. 

william-faucher-vfx-lighting-unreal-engineThe scene William Faucher created in his YouTube CG lighting tutorial that Ben used as inspiration for lighting his 3D mannequin of Alumon.

Though William’s tutorial is demonstrated In Unreal Engine, he stipulates that the methods coated may be utilized to virtually any renderer.

Wish to be taught the methods of a lighting artist to create cinematic movies and video games which can be out of this world?

Good lighting is integral to constructing a compelling 3D scene. At CG Spectrum, an Unreal Educational Associate and Unreal Approved Coaching Middle, you will be taught lighting necessities and instruments in Unreal Engine as a part of our Actual-Time 3D & Digital Manufacturing Programs.

Additionally, you will obtain weekly customized on-line suggestions from industry-experienced mentors (like William!) to assist information and inspire you in the direction of a vibrant profession in digital manufacturing.



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