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Chapter 10. Lighting > Why Is Lighting Important?

Why Is Lighting Important?

Virtual lighting takes a little more effort than it might seem at first glance. The reasons are both technical and creative. Technically, most of the time you're trying to get a realistic effect with your lights, and Maya's virtual lights do not work in a realistic way—in particular, beams of light within Maya do not reflect off surfaces. In the real world, even a single light source can fully illuminate a room because its beams reflect from surfaces to reach areas under desks and shelves, for example. In Maya, however, those areas are completely dark, so one solution is to simulate diffuse reflection by adding many low-level lights. Maya's lighting also allows unrealistic options, such as negative lights (to pull lights from their area of influence) and light linking (so that lights illuminate only selected objects). These options are helpful in getting good lighting results. Also, if you're compositing a rendered image with real-world footage, the lighting for the rendered image must match the footage as closely as possible for a realistic result.

Creatively, lighting defines the scene's mood. If you're trying to create a chilling, spooky effect, you'll probably want dim lighting in the scene. For a feeling of suspense, you might decide to have flickering lights. When looking for ideas to light a specific scene, think about films in genres that are similar to your scene—horror, film noir, drama, and so forth. Examine the lighting in these films and look for ideas that you can carry out in your scene.


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