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Want to learn how to create the same effect with Maya? Check out Creating Product Shots in Maya.
- Importing solid models as 3ds Max body objects
- Working with the scene layout, hierarchy, and display layers
- Building Arch & Design materials
- Creating area and photometric lights
- Setting exposure control
- Optimizing indirect illumination with Final Gather
- Image-based lighting with high dynamic range files
- Lighting with self-illuminated geometry
- Rendering to high dynamic range
- Saving render passes with Render Elements
- Adding ambient occlusion
- Layering and color correction in After Effects
Skill Level Intermediate
Environment mapping and the skylight are the conventional way of using image based lighting. However, there are some limitations that we can work around by using an actual piece of geometry. First of all, as I said previously, we cannot turn off this background in the RGB pixels of our rendering. We can replace that in post, but it's always going to render no matter what we do. If we replace this with a piece of geometry, then we can actually hide it from the camera and render whatever background color we want.
Additionally, a piece of geometry is much easier to manipulate than the environment background here. And for two reasons, one, we can select a piece of geometry and directly rotate it and see what we're getting in the view port. And additionally, there's a limitation of spherical environment mapping in 3DS Max in which we cannot rotate in the longitudinal direction. Let me show you what I'm talking about. We'll go into the material editor and we want to find the bit map node that's on the environment.
Here it is, double click on that. If you remember previously, we adjusted this u offset parameter, which allowed us to rotate the spherical environment as if we were spinning around the north and south pole. We can rotate it along the equator. You can see as I rotate this, it's turning left and right in the view port or along the equator lines. But in fact there is no way for us to rotate in the other axis. We can't rotate, around the lines of longitude as it were.
You might think that if we adjust this V offset, that that would work, but in fact that just shifts the mapping. It translates it up and down. Doesn't rotate, so that's really problematic and you might think that we can adjust these angle values, but for some reason they don't do anything on a spherical environment. So the upshot of this is that there is no way for us to rotate a spherical environment in any access other than the up-down axis, or the Z axis in 3DS Max.
So if you wanted to rotate your environment in some other axis, you can't do it. So if you have an actual piece of geometry, that solves all of those problems. Okay, so let's create our geometry, but first, we need to turn off this environment. Go into the rendering menu and environment and you can turn use map off. And once that's off we see the background color which is currently white. If we want to we can clear this map reference out too. We can right click and choose clear.
Now we're seeing this white background here and that's fine, but it's going to be a bit distracting. It'll make it hard for us to tell what's selected, so let's turn that off, go back into views, viewport background and set it back to solid color, for the perspective view and also for the camera view. We'll also need to turn off our skylight. Select that skylight and go into the modify panel and switch it off. Now we can't delete the skylight. If we have no lights in the scene, then 3DS Max will render with default lighting, and that will really mess up our rendering.
So just ironically, we have to have one light in the scene that's turned off. And that will disable default lighting in the render. Okay, now we're ready to create our geometry. Go to the Create panel and choose Sphere. And click-and-drag at the origin in the top view port. With that sphere created, we can go into the parameters here, set the Radius to 100. Set the Segments to 64 to just give it a little bit more detail. Scroll down and turn real world map size off because we want the mapping to be derived from the UV coordinates on this sphere.
And we want to turn this sphere inside out as well, so we can stand outside it and see through it. I can hit F3 in my perspective view. And we want to invert the normals here. So with this sphere selected, go to the Modify panel, and add a modifier called Normal. And you'll see Flip Normals is enabled. But we don't see through this sphere yet, because we also have to turn on back face culling. The best way to do that is through layers. We want to add this to a layer anyway, so we can make it invisible to the camera. Go into the Manage Layers dialog, and with that sphere selected, click Create New Layer Containing Selected Objects, and then click the name, and name it Environment.
Click on the Layers icon to get it it's properties. And we want to turn back faced cull on. And you see as soon as I did that, now we can see through the sphere. So back face cull on, show frozen in gray off, so it'll still be renderable in the view port if we freeze it. And most importantly, we need to turn visible to camera off so that we do not see the geometry in the rendering. It'll be invisible and we can see the white environment color behind it. If we want to, we can turn recede and cast shadows off, just to be on the safe side, although there are no lights in this scene it should be fine.
Click OK and then don't forget to, once your finished, make the default layer the active layer once again, because if the check box is still on another layer then if you create new objects they'll be dropped into that layer. Alright, so we created our geometry and in the next movie we'll apply material to this so it'll be self-eliminated