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In 3ds Max 2011 Essential Training, author Aaron F. Ross demonstrates how to use this top-tier application for digital content creation, widely used in diverse industries such as architecture, industrial design, motion pictures, games and virtual worlds. This course covers modeling with polygons, curves, and subdivision surfaces, defining surface properties with materials and maps, setting up cameras and lights, animating objects, and final output rendering. Exercise files accompany the course.
Spotlights have features that allow you to control the sharpness of the edge of the Spotlight, and this is sometimes called the Penumbra. But basically, we could design our Spotlight so that it has a very sharp edge, or maybe a very soft and gradual transition between the brightest spot in the center of the light and the falloff at the edge. Okay. So to get at these, I can choose my Spotlight.
And to see a better approximation here, I am going to turn on ActiveShade over here once again. I will right-click in the Viewport so I don't lose my selection. I will go down here and activate ActiveShade. So I am getting a fairly hard edge to the Spotlight, and that's what you do see by default. In the Spotlight Parameters in the Modify panel, I can open up that rollout. I will see Hotspot/Beam and Falloff/Field. So Hotspot and Falloff apply to Spotlights, and Beam and Field apply to directional lights.
It's basically the same thing either way. The Hotspot is the center cone here, or the center circle, and the Falloff is the outer circle. So if I reduce the angle of the Hotspot by holding down this spinner and dragging, and when I release the mouse, my ActiveShade updates to indicate that I am getting a softer look. So if I have a very narrow Hotspot and a very wide Falloff, I will get a very soft light.
So I can actually reduce that Beam down to just a few degrees. And it might be more dramatic if I have a lower Intensity to the light. Currently, I think I have got a value of 1.3, so I will set this back down to 1. And it would be a little bit clearer what's going on here. So I have got a soft light going on here. So the difference between the angle of the Hotspot and the Falloff determines how sharp the look of the Spotlight is. So I can reduce that Falloff as well and bring that in tighter.
And when I release the mouse, now you will see I am getting just a tiny little splash of light here. Hotspot and Falloff are also interactive. So you can actually adjust them from a Viewport. In order to do that, you will need to look through the light. So in fact, you can load a light into a Viewport as if it were a camera. And once you have done that, then you can adjust Hotspot and Falloff interactively. So what I will do is I will go up, and I will have to just sacrifice one of these views. So I am not using the Perspective View that much right now.
And click on that, and I will choose Lights > Spot001. So I can actually look through the Spotlight as if it were a camera. And to see this a little bit more clearly, I will hit F3 in my Viewport, and I can turn on Hardware Shading, too. Lighting and Shadows > Hardware Shading. And I am seeing the Camera here, so that's a little bit distracting. So let me turn that cone off for that Camera. So I will just select it, and turn off Show Cones, so that we are not distracted by that.
Go back and do this. So there you can see I have got two circles in this Viewport. The outer circle is my Falloff Radius, and the inner circle is my Hotspot Radius. So inside the Hotspot, the light will have full Intensity, and it will drop off linearly until it reaches 0 Intensity at the Falloff Radius. So to adjust this, I can just select the Viewport, and then you will notice I have got a different set of controls here than I do with a Camera or Perspective View.
So I have got a Hotspot Control, and I can adjust this interactively here. And bring this back out again. We are seeing a pretty good approximation in the Viewports. If I keep dragging this out, it will reach a limit. It won't be able to go beyond the Falloff Radius. And actually it has in the Preferences, there is actually a minimum distance, or a minimum Radius between the two. And if I wanted to, I could go into the Preferences and change that, but this is looking pretty good here.
So I could go to the Falloff Radius and adjust that as well, just holding down the mouse and dragging that out, and we will get a bigger splash of light. Additionally, by the way, you can also move the light and basically focus it in a first-person view as well, because you have got light movement controls, such as we can now Orbit, and you see that it's acting just like a Target Camera. Very cool! So that's how you can adjust the look of your Spotlight using Hotspot, Falloff, and also using the first- person Viewport controls.
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