Rendering Light

I found an interesting book on the important of rendering light by Jeremy Birn (2014), a Lighting Technical Director at Pixar. He talks highly of the ‘motivation’ behind such lighting (2014, pg. 2) such as how it existed and why it exists. This way, the cinematographer continuously questions the existence of light in a particular way – why is it so bright, why is it such a colour? Birn compares this to the same logic as animating a character – we don’t animate a character without knowing what they’re doing. As Birn’s puts it: ‘motivation should inform every decision you make’ (2014, pg. 2).

Much like 3 point lighting found in live action film, Birn discusses the possibility of ‘cheating’ lighting by doing ‘light linking’ (2014, pg. 6), which consists of duplicating the original/direct light source and manipulating it in the environment to create further brightness, or ‘illumination’ to be more specific.

The importance of good rendering, in the eyes of Birn is to ‘make things read’ (2014, pg. 10). In other words, the audience need to be able to read the 3D space, hence lighting simulates in coordinating the depth of a scene and allow the audiences’ attention to be drawn around the space. On top of this, lighting exists as a way to generate and perpetuate atmosphere to the scene, which makes the emotional impact of what the scene is trying to convey much more suggestible (2014, pg. 148), for example, the use of ‘volumetric fog shaders’ (2014, pg. 150) to create an atmosphere beam of light ray to covey dirt and dilapidation.

In Lee Lanier’s point of view: “Half of good lighting is good texturing and half of good texturing is good lighting” (2011, introduction)

BIRN, J. (2014) Digital Lighting and Rendering (3rd ed.). New Riders Publishing

LANIER, L. (2011) Maya Studio Projects: Texturing and Lighting. Indiana: Wiley Publishing



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