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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
For a product shot, we almost always want to make adjustments to the image after it's been rendered. Maybe we need to match it to a background. Or maybe we just need to play with the contrast or the saturation. If we render out to an ordinary eight bit file format, that's eight bits per channel, let's say like a TARGA file or a BMP file, and that can only hold 16 million possible colors. And if we start trying to push that in post, like crank up the contrast or the saturation, we're going to get some issues with artifacting.
We might see banding or other problems with the image. However, if we render out to a high dynamic range format that can store a wider range of possible values, then we have a lot more options in post. We can push it in any direction without causing all of those kind of, banding or artifacting issues. That's what we'll do in this movie is set it up for high dynamic range rendering. We'll need to go into the Render Setup dialog. And in the Renderer tab, first thing we want to do is set the quality up to One Per Production Quality.
And then down here we've got the options, and you'll see Frame Buffer Type. Frame Buffer is an old word that refers to an actual piece of hardware that stores an image to display it on a screen. In 3ds Max and other 3D programs, we've got a virtual frame buffer, which is a space in memory that holds the image, and the size of that space is determined by this option here. The default is integer 16 bits per channel, and that's a pretty high dynamic range in itself, but that's the internal dynamic range of the renderer.
And then when you save it out to a file, it usually gets knocked down to eight bits per pixel per channel for something like a BMP or a TGA file. But if we want to save out to high dynamic range, then the frame buffer has to be in high dynamic range as well. We need to choose floating point of 32 bits per channel, or more precisely, 32 bits per pixel per channel. Alright, so you've got our Quality set to one, and our Frame Buffer set to Floating Point 32 bit.
And let's do a Render. Okay, that took about two and one half minutes to render on my system. You'll notice that the frame buffer window, or the rendered frame window, actually says that it's got 32 bits per channel here. All right, we're ready to save this. We'll click on the Save icon. And in a perfect world we'd be taken to the Render Output folder in our current project. But currently I'm being taken to the Scenes folder in my current project. I don't want to store images in there. I need to store into the Render Output folder.
I'll go up one level to Render Output. And you'll see I've already got a folder labeled Examples in there that are some pre-rendered images. You'll want to create a new folder. Click Create New Folder and call it IBL Environment Map or Env Map, and then hit Enter. And then go into that folder and store the image, give it a name, IBL Environment Map. And to choose the format, we can either choose it from this pull down list, or if we know the extension we can just type it in here, like a PNG.
And if we click Save, the first time we click Save we'll get a dialog that asks us what kind of options do you want for this particular file. A PNG image is capable of storing either eight bits per pixel per channel or 16 bits per pixel per channel as shown here. And in fact the default bit depth for a PNG in 3ds Max is 16 bits per pixel per channel, or 48 bits per pixel total.
That's a fairly high dynamic range image, and it may or may not display, for example, in a web browser. I recommend if you're storing a PNG you just want to save it out as an ordinary 24 bit or eight bits per pixel per channel. And we do want the Alpha channel, that'll have the transparency information. And click OK. So that's our ordinary low dynamic range image, which is suitable for putting on a web page or whatever, but if we want to do a lot of work to it in post, we can also save this out to high dynamic range. Go back to the Save Dialogue.
And we'll just select that file but give it a different extension, EXR. Or you can choose it from the list. Open EXR either way. You just want to make sure that it that it doesn't say PNG.EXR. EXR is a format that was developed at LucasFilm, and it's a really good format for high dynamic range because you have lots of different options for how you want to store the data. And it's also very efficient.
When we click Save we get an option dialog asking how we want to configure this file. The format that you want to choose is Full Float. That's going to store all of the data that's coming out of the frame buffer. The default may be Half Float, but I recommend that you do Full Float. And then the Type should be RGBA, which is red, green, blue and alpha. Over here, you've got Compression Type, and the default is Zip Per Scan Line, so it's storing each line individually, and zipping that line.
And that's a very good lossless compression scheme, so go ahead and choose that. And then, click OK. And we've stored both of those images now. And in the next movie, we can actually work with that in After Effects.