Studio Lighting Techniques in Maya

Establishing a linear workflow.

Think of subject matter and mood. Linear workflow rendering strategies***** - Maya’s way of displaying light, colour and shadows.

Enable colour management and switch default inputs. By starting with linear and ending with sRGB we’ll simulate how light behaves more realistically. Anything that is a file .jpeg should be set to sRGB. Procedural textures need a gamma correct node. Any attribute within a material that has a colour, needs to be corrected (not just input colour).

Setting up the light sources.

Start for example with an area light. Increase ray depth limit and settings in global render settings. Ray depth limit will change how shadows start to appear e.g. On objects sitting on a surface facing away from the light source.

A larger area light will create softer shadows. Turn on the light shape and visibility for a softer diffuse light source. Shape intensity makes the shape more visible. Surround your scene with walls so as to bounce light.

Understanding light decay.

Realistic light decays. Quadratic (inverse square) is realistic. Illumination falls off quickly.

This depends on scene scale. Light spots are caused by errors in final gather.

Final gather quality can be improved with filter setting -> 2.

Studio lighting for reflective objects.

Don’t duplicate lights.

Shape intensity of light could be about 20 (depending on scene scale). For rendering the martini glass, the tutorial seems to have a ‘liquid layer’ and a ‘liquid volumetric layer’.

For creating contrast and backlighting. Turn on ‘use translucency’ in the mia_mat_x and make fully transparent with a high weight so that transparency goes towards translucency. This translucency will make the backdrop black, allow you to shine a backlight/ spot light through and will prevent the side lights from reflecting off the backdrop.

Plug an mia_exposure_simple into the camera lens to help eliminate some of the blown out pixels of a very bright area light. This is an alternative to colour management.