Smart IBL is all the buzz these days

Here's a word to all my new blog readers from the photography corner:

What fascinates me about HDR is the ability to capture light rays from the real world and use them for creating artworks. I don't even mean this in a metaphysical way. Tonemapping is one creative aspect of bending this captured light into the shape I want, but you could also take that first statement very literal.
A panoramic HDR image contains a lighting situation in its entirety. It's every light level from every direction. It's a virtual location that can be re-purposed over and over again in 3D graphics. That's what I do in my day job as VFX artist all the time. And that's also what the HDR panoramas, which I'm sharing each month, are for. To create images like this one:

Just look at this perfect integration into the background! Or the fact that there is a background at all! And it's so simple. This is the Smart IBL system, invented right here, by the HDRlabs gang.

When an HDR pano is wrapped up into a Smart IBL preset, such a scene can be setup with just a single button click. And it works in almost every 3D software. Here is what it looks like in modo:

This awesome Trainsformer robot was built by my friend and coworker Dan De'Entremont. It's a steam train, click here to see it transform.

I've done a bit of post-processing on it with Photoshop and Magic Bullet Photo Looks. Here is a close-up of the direct render output (rollover the image to compare with the final version).

Great New Tutorial Video

Smart IBL is heavily featured in my old buddy Christophe Desse's new mental ray shading tutorial. (The link may require signing up for the Autodesk AREA, but no worries, it's free.)

Christophe shows in his unmistakable Frenchman charms how easy and useful it is to use Smart IBL for testing a CG model in a variety of real-world lighting situations.

10 Tips for Lighting and Look Development

Cosku Turhan summarizes in a wonderfully clear article how important HDR images are nowadays in VFX production. And he also shows that the sIBL is getting around a lot, apparently all the way to Sony Pictures Imageworks…

Built-in Smart IBL support in EIAS9

Electric Image is back! This was one of the hottest 3D programs in the days of Terminator and Star Wars, but has been dormant ever since. Now under new ownership, with a new excited dev team, this renderer is rising again like a phoenix!

And Smart IBL is built right in! This integration goes really deep, just check out the feature list!

The last video of this long blog post is made by Thomas Egger, a veteran user and new captain of the Electric Image ship. It's 5-minute quickie, using the same Red Rock Canyon environment this blog post started with (the current sIBL-of-the-month). Watch it here on Vimeo.
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