Love Vray's IBL / by Xuan Prada

When you work for a big VFX or animation studio you usually light your shots with different complex light rigs, often developed by highly talented people.
But when you are working at home or for small studios or doing freelance tasks or whatever else.. you need to simplify your techniques and tray to reach the best quality as you can.

For those reasons, I have to say that I’m switching from Mental Ray to V-Ray.
One of the features that I most love about V-Ray is the awesome dome light to create image based lighting setups.

Let me tell you a couple of thing which make that dome light so great.

  • First of all, the technical setup is incredible simple. Just a few clicks, activate linear workflow, correct the gamma of your textures and choose a nice hdri image.
  • Is kind of quick and simple to reduce the noise generated by the hdri image. Increasing the maximum subdivisions and decreasing the threshold should be enough. Something between 25 to 50 or 100 as max. subdivision should work on common situations. And something like 0.005 is a good value for the threshold.
  • The render time is so fast using raytracing stuff.
  • Even using global illumination the render times are more than good.
  • Displacement, motion blur and that kind of heavy stuff is also welcome.
  • Another thing that I love about the dome light using hdri images is the great quality of the shadows. Usually you don’t need to add direct lights to the scene. If the hdri is good enough you can match the footage really fast and accurately enough.
  • The dome light has some parameters to control de orientation of your hdri image and is quite simple to have a nice preview in the Maya’s viewport.
  • In all the renders that you can see here, you probably realized that I’m using an hdri image with “a lot” of different lighting points, around 12 different lights on the picture. In this example I put a black color on the background and I changed all the lights by white spots. It is a good test to make a better idea of how the dome light treats the direct lighting. And it is great.
  • The natural light is soft and nice.
  • These are some of the key point because I love the VRay’s dome light :)
  • On the other hand, I don’t like doing look-dev with the dome light. Is really really slow, I can’t recommend this light for that kind of tasks.
  • The trick is to turn off your dome light, and create a traditional IBL setup using a sphere and direct lights, or pluging your hdri image to the VRay’s environment and turn on the global illumination.
  • Work there on your shaders and then move on to the dome light again.