Fun With Image Based Lighting

November 16, 2010 - By 

I have been playing a ton with image based lighting lately. It’s basically using purely HDRI images and Global Illumination to light your scenes. It’s a bit tricky to use GI with animation. But, for stills, it works wonders. More to come soon.

Posted In:  Cinema 4D My Work
  • (I am a C4D noob) Since buying your HDRI package I almost always solely light with the HDRI images- then tweak in AE. Looks good and its quick!

    Excellent render!

  • Sexy indeed.
    I like the wideangle-ness that’s going on

  • Orange DSLR… That’s hot.

  • Nice lightning and result looks similar to shake it photo πŸ™‚
    did you model it?

  • Mr Gorilla, dont know if you know this one, but this is some really great stuff for interior renders, really nice atmospheric lights.


  • where do I get one of them cameras?

  • Mathias RefshΓΈj November 16, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    How did you achieve the infinite look with GI on ? πŸ˜€

    I seem to get ugly artifacts when i try πŸ˜€

    • He could have modeled a cyc stage (curved bottom to perpendicular wall) that way your GI isn’t calculating so far into the BG.

      But another way is to just render yourself matte objects to cut out the background. Comp that and the shadow over 2D layers in AE.

  • took u quite long to touch on this topic lol πŸ˜€

    spam abit : deviantart has many free but good quality HDRi maps πŸ˜€

  • would ye pleasee make this a tut??? plz plz plz

    BTW i’m bruno bento from facebook

  • Hey man, that’s absolutely sick !!
    Would u be up for making a tutorial on how to model the camera as well ? I really want to get into modeling this kinda stuff on Cinema 4D but really not quite sure how to start. If someone else can give me a lights on where to start looking for how to model this kinda simple stuff please let me know. Cheers !

  • Hey Nick!,

    This image is SWEET!!! Looking at it, I was thinking, “How the heck do you texture all those different elements on one model?”

    Maybe a cool tutorial, “Advanced Texturing”… now of course I’ll search your site, just to see that this is something you already covered. Then I’ll hide in shame. Lol!

  • Tut on that modelling camera πŸ˜€

  • I found a nice little twitch that makes a ton of difference in your render, maybe you all know this but i didn’t. Click the use sky environment in the ambient occlusion settings….
    That is if you use a HDR or EXR for your render, and up the settings in the AO to the max, a still is just a still and may take a few hours to render right?

  • I second that!

    Love to see the modeling!

  • Hey Nick,

    Indeed GI lighting (I do it all the time cause its easy) is another way to do it. Works great on still images but I also use it (depends on the project) for animation. It takes crap load of time ones in a while but often its a personal project and I have time for it and it only take 5 hours to render instead of 5min.

    In amateur media (I think) is a tutorial how you can make your own HDR images which you can create in c4d itself & use it over and over again so you don’t have to rebuild the set.

    I’m on school now or else I would have shown an example how my renders are.

  • If you’re into IBL it’s worth checking out
    sIBL sets have different maps for lighting, reflection and background – the plug in loads them automatically.
    There’s some free sIBL sets here:
    and here:
    just need to search around a bit.

    I’m pretty sure there were some more sIBL sets on a 3D World mag disc a couple of months ago πŸ™‚

  • Nice render, Nick. Looking forward to your tutorial

  • Does anyone have a good method for using GI and animation?

    • GI renders with both camera and object animation are difficult to set-up, and are dependant on the scene.
      For fairly simple animations you can try using “still image” setting with a medium to high smoothing, this helps reduce the artifacts.

      Serious renders will need “full animation” setting. To reduce render times slightly, try “low” for the sampling option with medium smoothing.Using the “enhanced details” option will greatly improve the render,but adds a huge increase to render times.

      I have known my quad core pc take over 100 hours just to render the prepass for a 15 second animation!

      The best advice i can give is to try short test renders first at low res with low samples, then add more samples ’til you get the quality right before high res final render.

      Lastly, don’t render anything that you can do later in AE!

  • Don’t forget to check out sIBL!

    A good resource to keep bookmarked:

    And the ever useful book:

  • Seriously… GI animation is killing me. I got a video question if anyone wants to gander.

    By the way, if the only moving thing in your scene is animated textures should it be rendered with full animation in the GI mode?

    • C4D has some decent presets based on camera and object animation.

      If all that is moving is the camera, you need only use the prepass IR+QMC (Camera Animation) otherwise you need to use IR+QMC (Object Animation) option.

      Also, you cannot effectively NET Render the prepass. So, on your fastest computer, in the IR Cache file options, set it to prepass and let it render to file.

      Then with NET Render be sure to set the cache file load point so all computers can access it, and don’t forget to turn off prepass for final render, and turn on AutoLoad.

    • Im not using Net Render.

      Thanks for the Help!

    • Just noticed it doesn’t look blotchy on my laptop but my nice screen on my desktop makes it look blotchy.. So im not sure where that puts me.

    • Hi there ryanroehl.
      I dropped a comment on your video.
      Then I came back and saw that helluvapixel responded as well…

      Not sure how well this prepass will work.
      If you have any updates let us know please πŸ™‚

    • IR+QMC is def the best preset for animations like Helluva said but sometimes the falloff/smooth gradation between the colors creates banding in an 8 bit image.

      How compressed is the video you posted? Im seeing banding in all the shadows and falloff on the first frame which might have less to do with GI and more to do with image compression. Have you tried rendering to a 16 or 32 bit image? A tif is fine for that.

    • Pretty sure banding isnt the issue. The blotchiness is clear in each individual uncompressed tiff image. So compression aside, the GI is making weird shadows in the corners of my scene. But again the final video in vimeo looks great on my laptop, so I am starting to think that this blotchiness is somewhat expected when viewing at native resolution on a bright high quality monitor.

    • I will try 16 and 32 tiffs for sure though. I really need to learn how to batch process and just render out one second sections on different settings. and compare contrast. ToDo list here I come.

  • Hey man…i really appreciate what you’re doing and thanks for the great tutorials..i learn a lot from them.
    Now..i don’t know if u will take consideration of this, but…what the hell:).
    I like very much the intro on syndrome studio’s reel i don’t know if u know it.That part with the cubes coming out from other cubes and then just uncover the text..i think that’s really great.
    So, i would like 2 know how was that made…maybe u can help with a tutorial in the future:D.Thanks a lot and keep it up, you’re blog is one of my favourites.

  • Awesome-awesum render! Thanks for the headsup on the camera model! Can’t wait on the Tut on how you render and texture this puppy. πŸ˜€

  • Hey, Nick! Thank you again and looking forward to the tut.

    GI is a topic 1 for me now, especially those strange artifacts that appear hear and there.

  • If you’re looking for an alternative to AR (or Vray) this looks interesting:


  • Looks great!

  • As always I’m in Awe. Practically Drooling.

  • The Images on Facebook are Awesome too.

  • Hey Nick.
    Watched your cast today came in a bit late today. At the end you wore going threw some stuff and I saw a bunch of different styles of cameras you had on hand? Where did you get those and how can I. I had know idea you could use a Helga or any of these in C4D.
    Please expound. TNX C-dawg

    • Hmmmm. Not sure what you saw. Can you explain it more? Was it files? Photos? Actual cameras?

    • I am not sure either.
      You were digging through your folders after the cast and saw some different styles of cameras in your folders? Would be sweet if you could swap out the Cinema 4D cam for any kind of camera you wanted to use. Or more so a set of presets that you could load like your light kit with the settings to make the camera react like it was say a Helga or some other camera. You get what I mean?

  • OMG! I Just saw that you are coming as a speaker to OFFF 2011 in Barcelona Nick! soo awesome! finally i get to see u πŸ™‚ coming all the way from Denmark πŸ˜›

  • This one looks really great.

    It would be great to see a tutorial on how you textured this cam or something general about textures.

    Thanks a gain for your great work!

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