exr

HDR Sets - Review, of sorts by David Mackenzie

HDR Sets

06. Crop So, the other day I was browsing Max Underground as usual when this post caught my eye. Seeing as I often waste spend my time creating renders of cars I like, I am always on the look out for great HDRs I can use. As you will see below HDR Sets products are second to none.

First off, this is what you get with one of their sets:

  • Highres 360° HDR for reflection ( I also used this for lighting ).
  • 360° HDR for Lighting
  • A series of Highres HDR backplates.
  • FBX file (other formats as well)  with matched cameras and a sphere with the correct orientation of the HDR.
  • sIBL compatibility.

As you can see above these guys are definitely 3d guys or they at least understand what artists need. After reading about all of this I was pretty excited to see they have a couple of free HDR Sets you can download and test. So naturally thats exactly what I did.

S5 Max Scene

Creating my test image

OK, so my test image took me about 5 mins to setup, 20mins to render (@3k) and another 10-15mins in post, less than an hour all up. This is mostly because these HDR Sets make it that easy. Now I should say I did not use sIBL to set up my scene as I have never used it before (something I should probably check out), I just went old school and simple, chuck a dome light in there...

Below are the steps I took:

  1. Create a new max file and import HDR Sets cameras.
  2. Create a ground plane.
  3. Create a V-Ray Dome light and load the HDR as V-Ray HDRI.
  4. Chuck a material on the ground plane and camera map the backplate on to it.
  5. Merge in a car, position it.
  6. Test render.
  7. The test render looked great but I was not getting hard shadows off the HDR (was not expecting too), so I took it into Fusion and upped the gain on the sun to about 25000.
  8. Test render, hard shadows, looks sick.
  9. Render High-Res.
  10. Post processing, comp the rendered car over the HDR backplate add some colour correction. You can see a breakdown of the post process below.

That workflow is blazingly fast and exactly what you would like when purchasing any kind of assets for your work. As a commercial artist this workflow is very bankable.

[gallery link="file" ids="1271,1272,1273,1274,1275,1276"]

 Final Thoughts

In short these HDRs are the best I have used. The thing I love most about them is the HDR backplates, it makes it much easier to comp your renders and get a consistent treatment across both your render and background when grading them.  The fact the backplates are already camera matched is just a bonus. There other products out there that are similar, Moofe has an awesome and more extensive selection of HDRs, they also include backplates which are pretty easy to camera match due the 1m² cube that is in the image. To be honest though the single biggest upside for me was the fact that HDR Sets cost  40€ - 80€ and they are not rights managed which makes life easier.

HDR Sets will definitely be my first port of call when looking for HDRs moving forward. I highly recommend them.

Custom Audi S5

 

Tutorial - Fusion, Zdepth, EXR's, 3dsmax by David Mackenzie

10. Adjust the settings to get the desired effect

It is AMAZING how often people ask me about this. I wrote a tutorial way back in 2010 about how to use Z-Depth passes in Fusion. To this day it still gets a lot of traffic. However, that tutorial is somewhat out of date and seems to be causing more confusion than clarity. So here is an updated tutorial. If you are really unsure about Z-Depth passes I would recommend you go and read the old one here and then come back to this one as I am not going to explain the basic aspects in this tutorial. I will also explain how to use a Z-Depth pass that is stored in a EXR file which I did not do in the last tutorial. So here goes. First off make sure you render something to an EXR that will have the Z-Depth pass embedded in it. This is not difficult to do, I am max guy so below is a screenshot of the 3dsmax exr save dialog showing my setup. The main things to look out for here are the "Automatically Add/Remove Render Elements" checkbox and the G-Buffer channels at the bottom, both of which are outlined in green. If you have a render element that is creating Z-Depth pass then it will be automatically embedded. For instance if you are rendering with V-Ray and you have a "VRayZdepth" pass in the element list you probably do not need the G-Buffer Z-Depth channel. I as habit always save a few G-Buffer channels as a 'just in case'. Often I will get handed a file that has had Z-Depth element added to it but the ranges have not been correctly setup, in this case it can be handy to have G-Buffer passes.

3dsmax EXR Settings

Hopefully by this point you have a render to take into Fusion. So lets get to it, this is super simple.

  • Create a "Loader" (LD on the toolbar) and load up your render.
  • Go to "Tools" panel and click on the "Format" tab.
  • Expand the "Channels" flyout.
  • Go all the way down to "Z".
  • In the drop down list for "Z" select your Z-Depth pass. This will depend on what you have named your render element. In my case, I select "VRayZDepth.R" (In 99% of instances you can select either the red, green or blue (.r, .g, .b) as they will all be the same.
  • Now if you click in the viewer press "Z" on the keyboard you should be able to see your Z-Depth pass. If you screen is all white or it is hard to see hit the normalise button so you see it properly.
  • Now you can add either a Depth Blur or a Fog node. They will automatically see the Z-Depth information.
  • Adjust the settings on either your depth blur node or your fog node.
  • Done, easy.

That's it. If you are unclear of anything above you can follow that same procedure in the images below which might make it a bit clearer.

[gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="1090,1091,1092,1093,1094,1095,1096,1097,1098,1099"]

I hope that helps everyone. I might do a video if I get time, along with my workflow for using Frichluft Lenscare which is what I normally use to create any DOF effects. If you have any other questions leave a comment and I will try to get back to you.