Compositing the Environment Lighting Assignment – Night.

October 13, 2014

Since I’m too bored to work on in connecting the character’s ear to its head, I thought writing this one could be useful.

If rendering for the day scene was hard due to the scene’s errors, the night was even worse. At first, I thought of using the lamps in the street to light the set, but that wasn’t looking interesting enough so I decided to try some light coming from inside the restaurant. For some weird reason, the any light I placed inside the building wouldn’t come through the glass. Final Gather was the only thing pulling through, so I made a huge polyPlane with high Incandescence, producing the light on the floor through refractions.

Then, for compositing reasons, I disabled some of the switches for the visibility of the white plane and rendered out a reflection pass. After that, I deleted all the glass in the scene and rendered a pass with lit windows for the top floors, as well as getting information for the part of the door that was always behind reflections.

As mentioned before, a good blue matte pass was helpful during comp.

The foreground and tree were also double passes. The tree was done the exact same way as the day version, one with a lot of light passing through and a darker one, if I wanted just a silhouette against the sky.

Foreground had a version with a backlight added to the umbrellas, and a lighter look for the black metal material of the fences, chairs and all.

Finally, out of Maya and into Nuke.

The process for the night setup is very similar to the day version, with just a couple tweaks. Most of the difference is right in the beginning, compositing the background set. Let’s get straight to it. As for the sky, I felt it could use some more blurring than the depth pass was giving me at the end of the process, so I added another ZDefocus node, right after the reformat and transform. I chose that instead of a regular blur because it looks more like a lens blur.

Ok, the first thing I needed was the main background plate, but taking out all the white glass, using the matte. As the matte itself wasn’t cleaning the edges as I expected, the erode (dilate) node came into play to extend the matte’s effect for a couple more pixels.

You see those dots and that very first merge node? Ignore them, I just checked, they’re not doing anything and I’m not editing another print screen. After that unnecessary step, the next merge is good, it brings in the door behind the glass.

Then, another merge, this time to add the inside of the restaurant. I went to google images and picked some interior shots of empty restaurants then tested them with lots of blur and distortion to fill the windows without looking too fake. I’m still not a 100% happy with it, but no need to go back now. There’s also a roto node to create some ceiling that was missing from the renders. With all that blur, it was barely noticeable.

After filling the restaurant with empty seats, it was time to add reflections to the glass. As this was a light pass, it would only show up on the areas where the reflection is brighter than the inside of the restaurant. It’s mainly noticeable on the glass panel closest to the camera. Brings some blue into the glass as well, which is nice.

The last merge should probably be on a separate backdrop, but since it was only small details, I didn’t bother. Using roto shapes I was able to turn on the lights of some of the upper floor windows. It would be really weird having them all out, right? Then, for the inside of the apartments, I used the same technique as the inside of the Spaghetti Factory, with way less blur this time. Only a couple apartments were visible from this angle.

Finally, the usual stuff, ambient occlusion, rim pass, and also a glow layer for the lamps in the background. They don’t show up, but the glow adds a little more depth to the composition when the foreground comes in. The same thing goes for the windows. They got a bit of glow around the edges.

Compositing the tree was EXACTLY like the day scene, except now the rim was blue from moonlight, instead of orange.

The foreground followed the same process as well, including the blur for the top left lamp post, still cloned to act as a single node applied to various passes.

Getting to the bottom of this thing, depth pass, the exact same I had before, glow to the foreground lamps, like the Sun, and a little bit o playing with a grade node to increase contrast. The side wall of the building was still looking too bright, so another roto there, with a Multiply merge to control how dark it should look in the end.

ZDefocus kicks in when everything is finally in place, and we get to the end of this chaotic process that doesn’t discard even the weirdest renders.