Course info
Mar 31, 2008
2h 21m

Learn the fundamentals of High Dynamic Range Imaging and a proven workflow to creating and using HDR Images for a multitude to scenarios and projects. Contains over 2 hours of project-driven training for artists learning the creative and technical processes of HDRI and image-based lighting. Popular highlights include: HDRI Overview; Understanding Properties of HDR Images; Using 32-bit Color Space; 32-bit Image vs. 8-bit Image; Shooting Multiple Exposures with Camera; Bracketed Camera Exposures; Using Mirrored Ball for Environments; Naming and Organization of Exposure Sequences; Assembling Multiple Exposures into one HDR Image; Assembling Panoramic HDR Images; Removing Unwanted Subjects from Images; Color Correcting and Image Enhancement; Adjustment Layers for Image Alterations; Tone Mapping HDR Image for Low Dynamic Range Output; Setting up Image-based Lighting in Maya; Final Gathering in Maya; Reducing Animation Flickering; and rendering HDR Images from mental ray. Software required: Maya 8.0 or higher, Photoshop CS2 or higher.

About the author
About the author

Kyle was one of the first authors for Digital-Tutors (now a Pluralsight company) and has been a part of the team for over 10 years. Kyle began his career in computer graphics education as a college instructor and worked as a Digital-Tutors rendering tutor and curriculum manager since 2002.

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Section Introduction Transcripts
Section Introduction Transcripts

Introduction and Project Overview
Hello and welcome to HDRI in Maya presented by Digital-Tutors, an Adobe authorized training center and an Autodesk authorized publisher. My name is Kyle and I'll be your instructor for the next couple of hours as we explore the various techniques involved in setting up realistic, image based lighting for your Maya scenes. Now the ability to render photo-realistic images from your 3D application is a skill that's very highly sought after in the CG industry and it's a skill that's used very heavily in feature films, games, broadcast, and architectural visualizations just to name a few of these areas. Now the process of using image-based lighting together with high dynamic range images or HDRI for short, makes it much easier and much faster to achieve these photo realistic results. So we'll get started by showing you how you can use your own camera and a few simple pieces of equipment to create a series of low dynamic range images. So from there we'll take a look at how we can use Photoshop to assemble a series of low dynamic range images into a single 32-bit, high dynamic range image. And from there we'll see the various ways that these HDR images can be used in Mental Ray, the different methods of optimizing your render quality, as many as other time-saving tips and workflows that are specifically designed to make you a stronger, more efficient rendering artist in Maya. Alright, so in this first lesson, before we start to talk about the process of capturing any sort of HDR image with your camera or utilizing that in any kind of a 3D application, let's first take just a few minutes to talk about what is an HDR image? Now HDR refers to high dynamic range. Now the term dynamic range refers to the amount of contrast that can be found in any kind of an image. It's really the range of values that lie between the absolute brightest points of your image and the absolute darkest parts of your image. That range of values is your image's dynamic range. You may also hear this referred to as an image's contrast ratio. Now most of the images that we see on a day-to-day basis, whether those be images in a magazine, on television, or images on the web, those are all considered low dynamic range images and it's really due to the fact that the medium that these images are found on, whether it be paper, our television screens, or our computer monitors, all of these mediums are only capable of displaying a very limited range of color information and a very limited range of values. So these are all considered low dynamic range images. Now as far as the image format that these low dynamic range images reside in, these are usually 8-bit images. Now what that means is with an 8-bit image you usually have three color channels, red, green, and blue, and each of those color channels is able to hold 256 color values. So 0 is going to be the absolute darkest part of your image and 255 is going to be the absolute brightest point of your image. Now for most situations like I said, that is perfectly acceptable, but when it comes to things like image manipulation, that does give you a very limited range of colors and color values to be able to work within. So for example, if you were to look at the value of 128, which is going to be a 50% gray, there really is no color value between the levels of 128 and 129, right? That is the limitation of an 8-bit image, but if we introduce a 32-bit image, which is considered a high dynamic range format, this 32-bit image can actually contain much, much more color information than a standard 8-bit image and the way that it's able to do this is that it's able to store these floating point values. So I can actually choose a color value that is 128. 3 or 128. 357, or even 128. 35762. You know, the bliss goes on and on. There could potentially be thousands and thousands of color values between the levels of 128 and 129. So as a result, this 32-bit image can actually contain much, much, much more color information than an 8-bit image. And really this type of a file format is going to be necessary to contain or actually hold the information or the full dynamic range of your scene. And as we'll see a little bit later in this training kit, having this full dynamic range in your image gives you the ability to make very fine adjustments to the image. It lets you gain a much more realistic view of your scene, and as we'll seen even a little bit later in our training kit, we can use this full dynamic range or this extended lighting information that's contained in this file to give us very, very realistic lighting in any kind of a 3D.