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Siggraph Presentation: Moving Beyond Default Lighting in Cinema 4D 47 Comments

Here is day three of my presentation from Siggraph at the Maxon Booth. In this presentation, I talk about why not to use default light settings and things you can do to make your lighting more realistic. Then, I talk about the basics of lighting in a photo studio and things to keep in mind when trying to control the mood and quality of your renders. I talk a bit about why I made Light Kit Pro and HDRI Light Kit and how they help me light my scenes quicker and more realistically by emulating real studio lights and setups. Finally, I show off some of the new features in Cinema 4D version 13, like the new physical renderer, sub-surface scattering and physical camera, that help us use real world settings inside of Cinema to produce more accurate renders. I posted some renders below to illustrate some of the points in the video.

Three Point Lighting

Adding Color To Your Lights

Watch More Presentations from Siggraph 2011 At Cineversity

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  1. Hey man,

    I watched that one live, but it´s definetly worth watchin a second, third or fourth time!
    Cheers man!


    PS: Live Cast?

  2. Question:

    when working on set in fashion photography, all the shooters i worked with were very strict about matching color temps on lights. we used gels to get them all within 100 degrees of each other. Nick, i’ve noticed throughout your work that you mix the temps quite a bit. I originally thought that the color temp in fashion work is important as you want the most accurate color on your fabrics. But wouldn’t it be a good idea to have matching color temperatures in all areas of work?

    • I would imagine some photographers or clients might do it that way. I always liked using two different light sources to add a bit of color. I really liked using a hot light and a strobe together because then I could adjust the ratio of light without touching anything but the camera.

  3. I watched for the internet but my conecction is low and now i cant see the video 😀 Thanks
    Im sorry for my english i speak spanish

    You Are Great

  4. Do you ever get nervous before these presentations nick?

  5. Alejandro

    Hi Nick I have a little question.

    At the beginning of your presentation you said that you begin to read photography books and how a director would light a scene and that kind of stuff. what books you recommend?

    • I’d like to know this too. Can you offer any ‘good reading’ recommendations for lighting please Nick?

      Lacking real world experience of lighting, I tend to light most of scenes using prescribed methods without a clear understanding of what I’m doing.

      Have you thought about writing a guide to lighting to go with your light kit? I’d love some royalties for coming up with the idea 😉

      In the meantime though, any recommended reading would be much appreciated.



  6. Hey man, just a little note: This new video player did not show up in my Google RSS reader. Thought you may want to know.
    Keep up the great work.

  7. MichiSchwarz

    Although mostly a presentation about the light kit pro – and therefore more an ad show for a greysacle product and not Cinema 4D – one can learn a thing or two from this presentation:)

  8. Brandon


    Even though I ended up drinking too much and sleeping in my car, it was awesome meeting you at Zeitgeist last night. Great to see a guy as prominent in the field who’s cool and friendly with everyone. Cheers man.

  9. Dang wish i could of go,even though this was intended to be a presentation i actually learned a few things off of it.And how’d you get cinema 4d R13?

  10. Silfredo A. Nuñez

    Hey Nick! Can you post the C4D FILES? They’re really nice! 😀

  11. David Scott

    Is no one going to mention 0:43? ‘There goes I…’

  12. Ian Jopson

    Great great presentation Nick, I’m a newbie, so your coverage of lighting was much appreciated. I want to thank you for your generosity man, the knowledge you’ve already shared with me has helped me produce things far beyond anything i could have done on my own. I’m extremely grateful. I work mainly in AE (for the devil – dont ask) and even though i’ve only just acquired a copy of C4D today after completing the 42day trial, I am ready to move it into my workflow immediately thanks to you!

    regards Ian

  13. Hello Nick, great presentation.

    My question is what photography books do you recommend?

    Thank you! Keep Rocking!

  14. is there any place to watch any of those other presentations?
    I would like to see what the next guy would show…

  15. I second the comment about the lighting / director of photography books. Do you have any recommendations?

  16. Hello, the new renderer work with only CPU or GPU or both of them?

    Do i have to check new Nvidia card to make very fast rendering performances like in Cycles? or Octane renderer?

  17. Thx for this Nick. But could you be a bit more precise on this “Subsurface Scattering” thing? It was kind of hard to see the settings, because of the low res video. I added it in the Luminance channel – Texture – Effects – SSS. But when i hit render the model just looks brighter and washed out like with some normal luminance on the material. And no light is shining through…

  18. …first class Nick, Ive learned more from you than 3 years at art college!! ..your enthusiasm and passion make you a great tutor 😉

    Rich UK

  19. Excellent presentation. Now I finally understand lighting. Finally someone who understands Usability Design in the 3D app world. I know you get it based on everything I’ve seen you make. The ReWork book recommendation is another big clue!. With you and 37Signals I’m beginning to think Chicago may be the center for design that can change the world. You may know this book for UX Design “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. I highly recommend reading this seminal introduction to the booming field of Usability Design. “It’s a short, quick, fun read (has cartoons in it) full of wry humor that explains how to make things easy to use. But you get it already. : )

  20. Great demo! I have your Lightkit Pro but rarely use the HDRI rig. I have R13 but am sorry to say I have only really used the ‘normal’ C4D features, now gonna give the Physical Render a go, looks awesome!!

    Cheers Dude!

  21. Steve

    Dear author, please don’t use livestream, because:
    1. I can’t download your video locally and watch it in QuickTime
    2. Cursor is hiding all the time (THX flash player)

    But thanks for all your amazing lessons.


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Comment Rules

This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.