CG Lighting for Cinematograhpers – Night Interior Breakdown

Night Interior CG Lighting Cinematography

This year I’ve worked on some really great commercials that have taken full advantage of my previs work. I’ve successfully integrated lighting into my workflow and I love lighting in CG. There was a relatively steep learning curve that I’m still riding, but I have a lot of the basics figured out.

The diagram at the top shows a quick Night Exterior scene that I created as a demo. I approached lighting this 3d scene just like I would in real life, based loosely on a spec from an upcoming job. There is a large soft source outside of the windows, about 18′ high and angled down. In the kitchen there is an warm source (2′ 4 bank kino 3200k) and the actor is being keyed with a 4×4 Area light (1k Through a 4×4 of Bleached Muslin or Full Grid).

On a real job, I would create several iterations exploring different moods/angles, based on my discussions with the director and he could pick the one he liked the best or at least we could start a discussion. After that I would make a technical diagram showing where the lights should be placed and my best guess at the unit and gels needed.

Weta’s Mattias Menz on New Trends in CG Lighting

This is a great article talking about how CG artists are thinking about CG lighting much more along the lines of how a traditional cinematographer would. Keeping the camera movement and lighting based on reality can make for a more believable and potentially engaging CG film.

My goal this year is to get my CG lighting completely on par with my real world lighting. After I read a treatment/storyboard, I immediately open Maya and start throwing together a scene, finding angles, making camera moves, and starting to light it.

I’m looking forward to sharing my last two projects which involved doing lighting previs for cars in a studio environment.