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Creating HDR Images

This week we will look at how to create HDR images that can be brought into Maya to create Skydomes and lighting for the 3D rendering scene, which is important in terms of creating effective lighting for 3D assets that will be brought into a scene.

Shooting the shots

The first thing to do when creating an HDR image is to take a series of shots for the desired location at a variety of exposures. The reason for this is to capture the location for a shoot and to provide as much data on light levels using different exposures as possible, this will result in much more organic lighting when the images are rendered into the HDR background.

Processing the images

Once you have a range of shots (normally around 3-4) these need to be stitched together, incorporating the overlapping fields of view to create a segmented panorama or high-resolution image.


Bracketing is the process of taking a range of images with the same subject, taken using different camera settings (in this case exposure) and requires the use of a GNU Image manipulator such as photoshop.

To get the best possible outcome for the HDR image, each of the images should be placed in layers and then, in Photoshop, you can run an automated merge to HDR Pro to enable each layer to render into an HDR Image.

Following this there is often a need to apply masks to alter the lighting levels of the image by manipulate the exposure, brightness and contrast which will result in overall better image-based lighting and subsequent light mapping in Maya.

Next week, we’ll be back to look at how to setup match moving data in Maya with our 3D assets.

Further Reading and Research

The process of creating HDR Images in photoshop was somethings I was already aware of, however I spent some time explore how to improve the quality of HDR Images to ensure you get the best overall effect of lighting when moving into 3D modelling software.

To that end I read this article around the basics of creating HDR Images that provided some more interesting ways to approach the scene, including things such as manually lining up images

And then this YouTube video that provide a range of times and tricks around improving the overall quality of the created HDR Images

I also then found a tutorial about using Adobe Lightroom to create HDR Images, which I might use for the final project, however I will decide this later.

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