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Chapter 18. Shading > Achieving a Look

Achieving a Look

A “look” is the way surfaces are shaded to have a particular visual quality. It is the melding of production design and shader creation. Computer graphics opens up endless possibilities in looks that were impossible to achieve with live action and cel animation. The process of creating the shaders that will imbue a film with a specific visual quality is called look development. The shaders repeatedly are created and evaluated, to give a film a balance of the director's vision and art department's criteria. This is done even for photorealistic effects in movies such as the Star Wars and Matrix films.

Think of the visual quality differences in two similar CG films: PDI's Antz and Pixar's A Bug's Life. The lighting obviously was much darker and yet softer in Antz. A Bug's Life reflected the micro world and the wonder at that scale. Lighting contributed a great deal, but the shaders were always in the art department's eye. The two disciplines work in conjunction with each other.


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