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haley

Lighting Breakdown Exercise

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Recently I've been looking at stills from some of my favorite movies and trying to break down how the scenes were lit. To aid me in this process, I started painting spheres into the scenes. This exercise is extremely revealing. It helps me to understand where the lights are placed in the scene and what colors the lights are. Here are a few examples:

Inception

inception_sphere.thumb.jpg.7764748d5d348e1092f8c7154efd8ca4.jpg

Black Swan

blackSwan_sphere.thumb.jpg.2f125631130e3fdefe7ec28925efa4cd.jpg

La La Land

lalaland_sphere.thumb.jpg.c93b0a63c8eb00c0a9f9cf9da4d53b44.jpg

The Aviator

theaviator_sphere.thumb.jpg.38b713c8d8293282ea2993fc355d78e0.jpg

Unbroken

unbroken_sphere.thumb.jpg.ac034abbec80dc8433911f2ad793b359.jpg

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That's such a cool idea!!!

Our good friend Mel is doing a painting course where she's learning to paint shading... I'm always so impressed with people who can paint real light & shadow!

I'd love to start learning how to better control lighting in 3d... because I *suck* at it!

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@haley can you describe a little bit of your process as to how you set these up and your workflow? This looks like a super amazing exercise and I want to try it out! Lighting has always been one of the harder things for me to understand.

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Sure, @Kathy McNeal! To start, I look for an object in the scene that's local color is white and sample the midtone of that object. That's what I use for the base of my sphere. In this case I'm sampling from the bathtub. I create a fresh layer and put a circle on that layer that is that midtone color. If I were to guess what color to start with, I probably would have selected something much brighter and the lighting of my sphere would have been incorrect.

1_sphereBase.jpg

Next, I sample the highlight color of the white object and paint the highlight based on the light direction. I do this on a new layer that is above my base layer and set this to be a clipping mask. I find the light direction by looking at other objects in the scene. In this example, his pants and the edge of the bathtub clearly show where that key light is coming from.

2_spherehighlight.jpg

I repeat this process but for shadows this time. Again I'm sampling the color and looking for where the shadow should fall based on the scene. The bathtub clearly shows where the darkest part of the scene is.

3_sphereShadow.jpg

Finally, I look for any reflected light in the scene. You can see some on the edge of the bathtub on the screen left side of the image where the arrow is. I sampled that color and painted on the corresponding face of my sphere. There also seems to be some bounce light coming off the floor.

4_sphereReflectedLight.jpg

This process is great for breaking apart lighting setups that can then be replicated in your own CG scenes! I love figuring out where the filmmakers placed their lights and why they made the decisions they made. I also love exploring the colors used and trying to get my sphere to look like it belongs in the world of the film.

Here's what my layer setup looks like in case you're interested:

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 4.17.00 PM.png

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Hey @haley - one thing I noticed was the back of the guy's jacket seemed to have a bit more reflected light... so I tried to see if  I could add that to the sphere:

image.png

But I always have trouble figuring out how to wrap reflected light around a sphere and not flatten the whole thing out. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do this?

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@Jason, it appears that the reflected light on the guy's jacket is bouncing off the surface of the water. It would absolutely make sense to add that to the sphere if the sphere were hovering over the tub. I was imagining the sphere was a bit closer to the camera ? In these exercises, I wasn't overly concerned with making the sphere look 3D. Mostly just trying to get the colors and light positioning correct. It would be a good idea to brush up on the ol' digital painting skills though!

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Oh! That's so funny!  I totally imagined the sphere hovering over the tub - what's cool is that lighting can really help determine where something sits in depth.

It would be fun to see what else could be done with the sphere to really push it forward or backward into various locations w/out changing it's size.

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Changing the sharpness of the sphere would probably push it around in space! I made it slightly blurry so it doesn't look like it's on the focal plane above the tub.

5_sphereDOF.jpg

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