Light and Shadow: Light­ing and Ren­der­ing Se­ries Vol 1

FADE TO BLACK Light­ing artist Fred­eric Durand turns to the dark side for an il­lu­mi­nat­ing class on shad­ows

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You might be bet­ter off start­ing at the end of Fred­eric Durand’s light­ing mas­ter­class. In the brief chap­ter six, he talks about how light, shadow and the points where they meet form the ba­sis of draw­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy and other vis­ual dis­ci­plines. That two-minute postscript cuts to the heart of why it’s worth in­vest­ing your time in this tech­ni­cal but re­veal­ing video.

Fred­eric’s fo­cus, in this first of a pro­jected se­ries on light­ing, is not on light it­self, but on the shad­ows it casts. He takes you through a se­quence of CG scenes, each de­signed to re­veal an as­pect of how shadow func­tions and the ways that you can take com­mand of it, to ei­ther re­veal forms or sup­port your artis­tic in­tent.

He uses Maya, the tool of choice for pro an­i­ma­tors. But many of his ideas and tech­niques ap­ply to other 3D soft­ware such as ZBrush or CIN­EMA 4D, even if you have to do some leg­work to suss out how to re­pro­duce the vi­su­als that he achieves.

Fred­eric kicks off with a look at how light de­cays with dis­tance and how you can con­trol this in CG, be­fore giv­ing an over­view of the var­i­ous tech­niques you can use to cre­ate shad­ows cast by ob­jects out­side the scene it­self. He draws many ideas from cine­matog­ra­phy, where the light reach­ing the cam­era is con­trolled with pre­ci­sion. In­deed, film terms such as “barn doors” and “go­bos” (both phys­i­cal tools for di­rect­ing light) abound, but it’s never off-putting.

By show­ing you all the rel­e­vant tools and op­tions avail­able in 3D soft­ware to con­trol shadow, Fred­eric has made a deeply tech­ni­cal video that goes be­yond the three-point light­ing tips you’ll en­counter in most CG train­ing. Even if not ev­ery tech­nique is rel­e­vant to the soft­ware you use yourself, you’ll learn a lot about the prop­er­ties of light, and gain in­spi­ra­tion for stag­ing your scenes more ef­fec­tively.

In Light and Shadow, Fred­eric Durand shows how 3D soft­ware can pre­cisely

con­trol light dis­tri­bu­tion. Many of Fred­eric’s tech­niques are in­spired by the phys­i­cal blocks

used by cin­e­matog­ra­phers.

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