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- Creating exterior materials
- Adding luster to glass and subtle detail to wood and siding
- Positioning the sun with the Daylight system
- Lighting using HDR imagery
- Lighting interior spaces
- Fine-tuning the photographic exposure
- Rendering and optimizing rendering
- Creating an ambient-occlusion rendering pass with custom materials
- Setting up additional rendering passes for compositing purposes
- Compositing and adding post effects in Nuke and After Effects
Skill Level Intermediate
One of the really great things about working in a post effects and composing program like Nuke is that we can add on things like depth of field and glow after the render is done in 3ds Max. This may sound fairly small, but it's really a giant thing. Here's why. If we render out depth of field in the camera in the 3ds Max either through mental ray or by using the multi pass effect in the camera, that depth of field is baked in. It is part of that image and we can't take out the blur easily. It's also a longer render time.
We may see a doubling or tripling of our render time to get depth of field going. And occasionally, this is the choice we make when the depth of field needs to be rendered in the camera. But if we have the choice to do it in pose, it makes it so easy to simply push around where the focal point is, and how much blur we have. It also allows us in a composite shot then, to match the depth of field to our composited CG elements into a real background plate. Here's how I make this work, and I'll start out on the daylight image. I've got my depth pass.
It's a targa that rendered out as one of my render elements. It's also part of the mass EXR, and so I have a couple of different places I can get this from. In this depth targa, I've got white in the foreground, tapering to a medium grey in the background. In the mask EXR and I'll press one to show it after I've clicked on it. I have got that depth as one of the layers. When we render out EXRs, we can see in here. Dropping down under RGBA, that we've got depth. It's up to you where you would like to use it. Either taking the depth from the EXR or taking the depth luminance over into a depth and a flow.
We can use it in both ways and to have that flexibility is the real key. I'll start out then, by copying that depth in. Because it's in a different image than my main flow. I'll pick my grade two and press one to show it. I'll make sure in my viewer that I'm showing the RGB alpha, and now I'm going to get the depth in. I'll use my depth Targa, selecting it and pressing. K for copy. In a copy node, again it's a over b, and I'll make the b in the copy node, my grade.
With a copy selected, I'll press one, and at the moment there's no change. What I'll do then, is copy in the copy channels RGBA red two depth.z. The reason we do this is that the order is typically RGB. So it's customary when your dealing with an imagine that is a grey scale or just luminous to take the first channel. You could also take green or blue if you wanted but usually the first one work just fine. What we're saying then is copy that red to the apparent Z-depth in the scene so we can the field on it.
Now get the depth on. With my copy selected, I'll right click and choose filter and ZD focus down at the bottom. In the ZD focus note, we've got an incoming image and a filter. And the filter is there if we need a Bokeh blur. If we've got bright points or specular highlights that need to blur out into hexagons, for example, other other shapes. Because I want a fairly wide depth on this, I'm not going to see that shallow focus that gives me a Bokeh blur. In the depth then. Making sure it's showing by pressing one. I've got a focal point, and I'm going to layout or organize my nodes, just a little bit, so I can get to things a little easier.
And then make that viewport a little bigger. Here's what I'll do. I'll pick all of the nodes in this particular nodes in this particular flow. Picking one, holding shift, and picking another. And I'll press L for layout, then I'll take that newly organized flow and slide it over. I'll do the same on my other side, again selecting all the pieces except for my viewer and pressing L for layout. I'll pull this second flow over, and now I've got a little more organization in my node graph. Now in that ZD focus. And I'll slide the timeline down to get a little more room here.
I can pull around the focal point placing it where I'd like to focus in on the image and updates in here, pushing that focus to where I specify. In this case I'm focusing on that railing. And we can see in here that it's defocusing by the back block wall. Here's what's going on. In the ZD focus note, we're working by the straight depth in here as oppose to using different math. And we have different ways of dealing with it. What this lets us do and we can see the tool tip on it, is specify how that distance was created.
Far equals negative zero for MIA for example or for running in Renderman or something similar. Then in here, we can say where is the focus plane, and finally, what is the depth of field. Theoretically, depth of field is zero, meaning one point is in focus, and everything else blurs out from there. I'm going to crank up my depth of field a little bit though, so I have a focal plane thickness, or a zone that's in focus. With depth of field up, then, we can alter how much blur we have. There's a size, how much blur we'd like, and a maximum, so at maximum blur how much blur is there? The maximum keeps our image from just blurring out into mush in the deep background, for example.
What I'll do is take that size down to two and the maximum to four. So, most everything is basically in focus, although we're getting a little bit of blur by the back of the roof or the block wall. Most of the house is pretty clean. I'm after the design here or to show it off, so I don't want a shallow focus where everything else just fuzzes out, but instead I want a very deep depth on it where most everything is. Pretty well clear. We can push this around as we need.
And, if you like, we can start to play around with gamma correction and bloom. Really, blowing out an image or even brining in a filter if you're dealing in a Bokeh blur. I'm going to leave this depth as it is and put the same depth of field onto my other image, my dusk shot. In the node graph. I'm going to take my depth of field, my ZD focus and my copy nodes and copy over that depth. With both selected, I'll press Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. We could probably make it work in one flow, but for clarity here in the node graph to keep the flow separate, I'll copy and paste.
The b node in this new copy will be my color correction, the end of that flow. The a then will come from my existing z depth image. I'll pull it on, select that ZD focus two and press one to show it,. I'll pull the timeline down, and there's that depth of field. Again, focusing roughly around the front door. We see the de-focus, right here on the back roof and the black rock wall. Now that I've implied depth of field, I'm ready to look at glow. And also, putting a proper sky behind this.
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