View Full Version : Any Tips for Product Lighting/Environment Setup?

03-28-2015, 05:57 AM
I've been asked to do some simple 360 turns on a phone. So far it's looking good but could be so much better. I'd like to keep the lights to a minimum. 3 lights - main, fill and rim are working well and want to avoid using GI as much as possible. Shadows aren't really an issue here as it's pretty much flat, hanging in mid air.

I've seen tips on using Textured environment maps in addition of a same softer version mapped to a sphere for reflections/spec in past threads. Would someone be kind enough to clarify?

Is there a general rule of thumb for some lights just for Spec and others just for Diffuse?

03-28-2015, 09:31 AM
Proton did a nice tutorial on product shot lighting for one of the LW Siggraph magazines if I'm remembering correctly. Maybe someone still has that pdf.

03-28-2015, 04:19 PM
Really nice tutorial.

03-28-2015, 04:50 PM
We have a generally standard set that we use for product shots when we design awards and such for clients to view. It is a camera flyaround, not a turntable shot. It uses all DP Lights for their individual sampling capability; one DP Dome, one DP Infinite and seven DP Floods. The DP Floods are set to slightly differing color temperatures for added realism, depending upon vector from the DP Distant.

Three DP Flood fill lights are lower than object center, placed at about 120 around the object in order to get highlights/fills where I want them.
Two DP Floods, a Backlight and a Kicklight, are placed at mid-object height between two of the fills.
All of the above are 6" diameter at a distance of approx. 18" from center, 30-40 cone angle, 5 soft edge, Inverse Distance; with the exception of the Kicklight, which is Inverse Distance Clamped.
The Keylight is a DP Flood, 2' in diameter at a distance of 36", on the 45 elevation vector of the DP Distant Light, Inverse Distance ^2, 500% Intensity.
The Keyspot is a DP Flood, 3" in diameter at the same distance and location as the Keylight to boost the DP Infinite for a strong highlight.

Just couldn't get a good look with only the basic three light set up. Of course, we're dealing with glass, so the transparency and refraction demanded more finesse. Even when doing large format photography in the studio, I would always have more lights and fill cards.

First example is our Hugo Award: http://glasssculpture.org/awards/hugo2014/
Second example is the United States Geospatial Intelligence Lifetime Achievement Award: http://imperialearth.com/3D/usgif/lifetime.html

03-28-2015, 07:05 PM
Why in the world you want to avoid GI?

GI and Textured environments go hand in hand.

I'd suggest taking a look here: http://www.hdrlightstudio.com/

on their videos page in particular.

In addition, you might want to check out Smart IBL.


Which for the most part is free and has versions that integrate directly into Lightwave.

03-28-2015, 08:20 PM
You can by and large avoid GI if your surfaces are reflective (as all surfaces should be), don't use any specularity at all on your surfaces, control the glossiness through reflection blur or roughness if using a material node. In some cases if there are dark areas in shadow the lack of GI will be a problem and you'd have to fake GI with bounce lights and so on. However in your case with a generally flat or diffuse lighting you will unlikely experience this. Realism comes from good surfaces more than anything, reflective surfaces will be reflecting the environment so that is also important and the environment will dramatically change the whole look.

The other thing, if you don't use specularity, most Lights will not show up a hot spot on the surface (specularity is a fake reflection of the light source), so you might have to put in a bright object at the light position to simulate this, or use a volumetric sprite as these actually do show up in the surface reflection. It's only an issue if you want the lights to show in the reflections, your HDR environment might already be supplying nice looking light reflections.

03-29-2015, 05:40 AM
Lovely tips, thanks (I'm not getting email notification of new posts so sorry for the late reply!).

GI seems to be nothing but trial and error, mainly error for me, and got quite a few scenes on a short deadline so want to avoid long render times as much as possible (like everyone else!), although I've had a much better success with BG GI. I'll pick up the other suggestions later.

03-29-2015, 05:13 PM
Forgot to mention that the set up I outlined doesn't use GI. Just for bumps, I should re-purpose the set for GI/IBL and see what the differences may be in both look and time. Would be a good experiment, especially with Importance Sampling.