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For standard lights, the most accurate type of shadow is an area shadow, and that's more optically correct and it respects things like distance. Let's take a look at the shadow maps once again, I'm going to actually select my light and move it over, grab the move tool, make sure it's in whirl coordinates, I'm just going to move it over so I'm getting more side lighting. That's going to help us to see the difference here between these types of shadows. Okay? So with something like that, I'll select the perspective view and render.
You got that perspective view locked. This is the shadow maps, the settings from the last shot that we just did. And let's copy that, so we can compare it. I've got a copy here. Just going to minimize that. So what you see here is that the softness of the shadow is uniform, across the entire shadow. However, in the real world, the farther away the shadow casting surface is from the shadow receiving surface, the softer the shadow will be at that location. In other words, where the two surfaces are very close together, the shadow will be very crisp.
But where the surfaces are far apart, the shadow's going to be softer and fuzzier. Shadow maps and the default ray traced in advanced ray traced shadows in 3DS Max do not respect that distance. And the reason is that the shadow casting mechanism is a point. It doesn't actually have any size, so its an infinitely small point that's projecting the shadow, and that's why we have a uniform crispness throughout. An area shadow actually has a size and because of that then, it's capable of this more optically correct or accurate rendering.
Alright, so let's select our light. Go back to the modify panel, maybe pin a stack so we don't lose that. And instead of Shadow Map, I'm going to choose Area Shadows. And let's do a rendering with default area shadow parameters, see what it looks like. So you see that we're getting massive spread, and a huge amount of grain. And this is simply because the size of the light is huge. My entire scene here is only 1 meter wide. Let's look at the area shadows perimeters here. Open that up and you'll see here the area light is 25 centimeters wide and 25 centimeters tall.
It needs to be a lot smaller. Up here we have some options for what shape. The area shadow light is going to be, let's just choose disk, because that's going to be the simplest. And then reduce the dimensions here to let's say, 5 centimeters by 5 centimeters. So that's going to produce a circle that's a 5 centimeter radius. And we'll do another rendering. And now you can see, this is looking a lot more believable. Let's look at our shadow map rendering to compare.
On the right is the shadow map, and on the left is the area shadow. And you can see that's so much more believable there. There's some grain there, but we can fix that really easily. Just go back into these parameter here. Increase the integrity and the quality. Integrity is the accuracy in terms of the detection of the edges of surfaces. I'll set the integrity up to a value of 5 and render that, and it's made it better, but it's still looking a little bit grainy.
And that's where the shadow quality comes in. Quality is actually this sampling. It's how many calculations are being done. I'm going to turn that up to a value of 10. With integrity of 5 and quality of 10, do another rendering. And each time I increase those, you see it gets slower, but it looks better. That's looking pretty clean now. Again now on the right we've got a shadow map, and on the left now we've got an area shadow with optimal parameters. If we change the position of the light, or the position of the shadow casting object relative to the shadow receding surface, that will change the softness here.
Additionally, once again if we change the size of the light that's going to control the softness as well. If I want this to be sharper over all, I can reduce the size. I can give it a size of like one centimeter by one centimeter and render that. If you have a pretty crisp shadow here, you don't need to have as high a values for integrity and quality. So, to optimize the speed of the rendering, you can bring these values down a bit. I can take them back down to their defaults of 2 and 5, and try that.
And it rendered much faster but it's a little bit crunchy there, so maybe somewhere in the middle. Maybe 3, and 8. Still looking a bit crunchy. So, you just have to fine tune this until you find the right settings. So that's a 5 and 10. Let's try 4 and 10. I think I'm happy with that. So it's all up to you in terms of the look you're trying to achieve. You want a really soft effect then increase the size of these area light dimensions. Maybe you set that up to a value of 10 centimeters, which is going to be super soft.
That means this is going to need to be increased as well. So that's an extremely soft light. One important point I'd like to make about the area shadows. It's only the shadows that have a size. The light itself is still a point light source. And so we don't get an even diffuse illumination like we would if we used a proper area light with photo metrics. So these are all point light sources, but the shadows are being calculated as if the light were an area light. Alright, so that's a pretty exhaustive exploration of the options for shadows in standard lights.
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