Converting legacy scenes for SuperFly renders

  • With thoughts of building a world for a character to explore, I've combined a few major, legacy components: Red Hill Studio's Dream Home (excellently detailed, but entirely FireFly oriented, with masses of baked in AO & specularity in textures and endless occurrence of over unity sum values for diffuse, specular, ambient and reflection, IOW all those great FireFly tricks to get good renders), Worldbase-Xtreme-Kit (a good foundation for panoramic scenery, with transparent haze for distant atmospheric extinction) and a series of day/cloud/night nested BBEnvSpheres with time derived infinite light Sun position (with the Sun light enclosed in a translucent sphere to emulate a half-degree disc).

    As I struggle to find good SuperFly render settings (things are mostly OK with outdoor scenes in bright daylight - the Sun infinite light is probably not the best lighting solution for SuperFly, but it has built-in exactly the right angle order to allow it to follow ecliptic arcs through the sky, as the real sun does, with just one parameter varying, a la Right Ascension), I've commenced the tedious task of identifying all the materials that use ambient when they don't need to, except for materials like light globes or fluorescent tubes which have their PoserSurface Ambient_Value animated, so they can illuminate the scene as it would be in the real world.

    Even then, with all of the Ambient_Value emitters turned off, I'm still finding them visible in darkness due to over-unity diffuse or specular inputs.
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  • Woah! Too much light. Knocking the Ambient_Value back to 100 from 1000 and doubling the render time (samples squared x 2) gives a better light level, but still dismal clarity.
    0_1541847090763_Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 9.47.24 pm.png
    Virtually everything in this scene, at least as far as the Dream Home figures go, is flagged as a Light Emitter in the Properties tab. I've seen other threads where removing the wall behind the camera to let in extra light is discussed, but that would be extremely complicated and tedious in this scene.
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    With more samples (up to 26 from 15), the improvement keeps coming, but at 37 minutes for a Raytrace Preview, there's no way I'd ever let this render out at full resolution, both for quality and time reasons.

  • Another side issue that's touched on here in the Raytrace previews, is window glass. In the very first image posted, the FireFly, pure transparency (well 90% plus some diffuse) window glass has been replaced with a CyclesRoot and BSDFGlass shader. Comparing it to all the subsequent screen shots and raytrace preview renders, where I'd switched it back to transparency only, I realise that the window panes are single-sided, zero thickness objects, so cannot use a shader which applies refraction, as everything beyond the pane will appear to the renderer to be solid glass, so the view from outside will be refracted as though through a prism. The eaves and wall should not be visible, as they are not in direct line of sight of the window at that angle, so I have to ditch the idea of using realistic glass shaders on single-sided windows. X-p

    Back to the low render quality in the indirectly lit scene, I'm wondering if there's some kind of tone mapping that could be applied during the render, as though by a dark adapted eye. I know there are many avid photographers who always think in terms of what the camera perceives and the film or CCD captures, but that will always appear, when replicated via print or on screen as something with less information that what a human in the same scene would perceive. I.e. my retina, optic nerve and visual cortex will always post-process the raw photons before I'm aware of what I think I'm seeing. If I walk inside from outside on a sunny day, unless I turn on a light or wait for my eyes to adjust, I'll be effectively blind. That very adjustment, is what I'd like to replicate in Poser renders, though I suspect that its digital analogue is only available as thousands more pixel samples. Until the graininess is removed with sufficient samples, I fear there will be no solution.
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    It was interesting to note as I watched this preview progressively render, that the very first sample had clarity on the view through the transparent window panes, while the rest of the room was virtually black with a scattering of fireflies.

  • I've been meaning to post this and your thread reminded me. I've had similar challenges trying to find the right lighting in Superfly. I primarily used indirect light in Firefly. I started out with those big RuntimeDNA invisible lights until I figured out how to do it myself. But with Superfly I had a hard time converting to the new light sources. Mesh lights are fine for simple studio render, but in a scene like you have they are not easy applied. Simply turning the dial up on light emission seemed problematic also, as the item simply turned into a white-out blob. The problems you show with light areas vs. dark are difficult and frankly i am still avoiding them or piecing things together post-render production. So this is for your consideration as you work through this.

    Someone had posted a Blender material using LightPath and seeing it for the first time I thought, well couldn't I achieve the same results as the old invisible indirect lights using LightPath. Sure, and its pretty straight forward.
    0_1541863422725_06 magic shoppe light material.png

    This essentially turns the object invisible, but it still emits light.

    In this example below, I've placed a cylinder that emits lights on it sides (but not top or bottom) around the ceiling light. In this way I was able to boost the light from the ceiling fixture. There is also one around the object in the character's hand to give it a magical glow. In front of each of the frosted windows is a one-sided light. This balanced the off-camera light sources (which you can identify from the specular reflections on the armor). So, while I avoided including the outside world by using frosted glass (ha! - work smarter not harder), I was able to boost the light source from the windows to make it feel more realistic.

    Using this on your window (put a single one-sided square over the whole thing to start) might help provide the light you expect to flood through the window and illuminate the room.

  • @ctrl-shift thanks, that sounds like a useful solution for single room renders. I suppose I'd start with the ambient room lights off and adjust the invisible window emitter until I get the lighting level I'd expect.

    It's going to be a huge job to set up every window in every room to work that way, though. I'd probably want to think about making the emitter a box with only the room facing facet using an emissive material, so I don't get outside bounces of light returning to the room when it's all supposed to be external ambient environmental light. I still want to be able to see the outside through the window, not pretend it's frosted glass. I'd also have to work out what to do when looking out of a window and seeing another externally lit room from inside the current room, though IRL that kind of thing is less problematic, as looking outside will usually constrict one's pupils during the day, so what you see through the window of an external room will be less visible that when you're looking at the interior of the room you're in. All complications of light adaptation affecting what one has experienced directly and therefore expects to see in a similar render.

    I'm also lighting the scene with a single, infinite sun light, during the day, whose position changes with the preset time. Matching that lighting would take some effort as well, to coordinate with emission levels of window props.