Digital Lighting and Rendering (2nd Edition) Paperback – Apr 27 2006
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About the Author
Jeremy Birn is a Lighting Technical Director at Pixar Animation Studios, where he worked on Cars and the Academy Award-winning The Incredibles. Prior to joining Pixar in 2002, Jeremy did lighting and rendering at such companies as Palomar Pictures, Wild Brain, CBS Television, and Tippett Studio, where he worked on effects for the feature film Evolution. Jeremy has taught courses at the California Institute of the Arts in Southern California and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. More of Jeremy’s work and more about his writing is on his website, www.3dRender.com.
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The book is brilliantly simple, clear easy-to-understand writing throughout, even when describing very technical subjects like Polynomial Texture Mapping the author manages to keep the text readable, relevant, and useful, and he has lots of good pictures of things (renders, screenshots, diagrams, and photographic examples), to help pin down issues like the specific things to look for in adjusting subsurface scattering skin shaders. I've read the book cover to cover ~ and I'm going to be keeping it around my desk for years as a reference as well!
Most of the book is not software-specific, especially in terms of lighting techniques or creating texture maps the advice will work for anyone. The book only mentions 3D Studio Max (what I use) once in a while, and only has a few screenshots of settings in Max (along with lots of references to Maya, Renderman, Mental Ray et cetera) but still the whole book was completely useful to me, actually more useful because of its content than most of the software-specific books they keep cranking out with 3D Studio Max in the title.
The lighting challenge scenes are great, you have to download them yourself (there's no CD with the book...) but it's absolutely amazing that the author himself looked at my work and gave me feedback (spot-on feedback too!) when I posted my test render on the discussion forum. I'd have bought 10 books if it I had to, to get direct interaction with a top lighting expert working at Pixar! This book deserves more than 5 stars to reflect the amazingly generous author whose support goes above and beyond just writing a terrific book.
Kudos and Congratulations for such a great book, Mr. Birn!
With the associated website (3drender.com) where there are numerous lighting challenges to download and particiapte in (the author himself critiques the work!) this will certainly improve your skills and also just give you a bit of nudge into looking at the world through the eyes of a 3D lighting artist.
Don't mistake me, this is not a specific piece of training material, but it is an invaluable source of reference, from the tables covering some suggested RGB values for lights to various physical properties as well. It really should be required reading for anyone vaguely interested in the lighting end of the 3D pipeline, and even for seasoned professionals it is great to have everything in one very well constructed, well written, and easy to navigate book.
The first few chapters cover traditional lighting concepts and answer basic questions such as which is the best lighting for various situations. Then, the author moves into more specific topics, beginning with shadows and occlusion. He discusses techniques for casting various types of shadows and what purpose shadows have in the scene. You cannot have shadows without light. Therefore, the author covers the different types of lighting such as global illumination, natural and artificial light. He also discusses how to light the characters in your scene and how lighting defines the character's form and movement.
When you model the characters and objects for your scene, they start out with a smooth, dull gray color and you will use shaders to give them color and texture. Birn discusses how to use several shaders including raytracing, Reyes algorithms and GPU acceleration. Besides shaders, you can also use texture mapping to add color and texture. Birn covers the types of texture maps, how they are made and how to align them to your model.
Eventually, it is time to build your scene or animation which requires placement of characters, objects, lights and cameras. The author discusses several rules for composition and staging. Once all the staging is complete, it's time to render your scene and Birn covers many professional tips for this technical subject including multiple renderings and flexibility.
Jeremy Birn has worked in the technical lighting field for many years. His recent works include Cars and The Incredibles.
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