Lighting Setups for Games

MovieMike

Active Member
Aug 4, 2017
229
895
#1
Quick question for some of the dev's here. When you're working on your games do you tend to light each scene differently (especially characters) or do you tend to set up lighting in the scene and then just place characters and render? I'm currently working and find myself using a variation of 3 point spots for my character, then hiding and rendering the bg with hdri and a mix of spots and ghost lights. Problem is, it takes time to change lights for each setup and if you're trying to produce a lot of images it adds up. Just wondering how you all approach lighting your scenes. Mainly interiors because those are much much harder.
 

mickydoo

Active Member
Game Developer
Jan 5, 2018
179
495
#2
My personal preference is emission planes, I explain why here.


If it is a close up shot the one plane is enough like in the example pic in that thread. If it's a larger scene and the background needs lighting I use these.


Very rarely are those lights not enough to light the background, you can always just add more of them anyway. Here is a set up I did yesterday where the light in background was shitting me so I used emission planes as well.

14-03-2019 17-22-33.png
The 4 emission planes at the top are actually further back than the seem in the pic, they are over the shelves like florescent lights would be. The other two are on that angel just above the viewpoint to put light on the actual characters themselves. This is the end result.
libary selves.jpg
It may be a bit over bright in this case, but its easier to darken a pic in Photoshop than it is to brighten one.

Keep in mind, that's how I do it, I have only been doing it for 18 months and only doing it this way for the past 3 or 4, there are other ways people do it, some probably better than mine.
 
Likes: MovieMike

MovieMike

Active Member
Aug 4, 2017
229
895
#3
This looks good in my opinion. I think in the end a mix is what I'm finding works best. For example, I lit a bar scene today and it looked pretty good but a bit flat especially on the bottles visible on the table. Adding a spotlight in that general direction gave me the necessary reflections and overall color scheme. I think for far away images, ghosts or emmissive planes will be fine, and spotlights to add a little oompf when needed.

How was the render time on this if you don't mind me asking? I've found emmissive lights to be slower than spots or an hdri.
 

Rich

Well-Known Member
Modder
Game Developer
Jun 25, 2017
697
2,122
#5
Emissive planes will almost always take longer to converge than spotlights, because iRay "understands" spotlights and has special processing for them. Had I been lighting that scene, I'd have used spots on at least the ceiling. You can make them have significant area, and widen their "spread angle" if you need to - works pretty well.

The other thing you have to watch out for with emissive planes is shadows. If you drop in big ones, because they aren't at all directional, you can get washed out images without shadows that look "wrong" to the eye, but it's hard to say why. The scene shown doesn't really have that problem - the fact that the emissive planes are small and spaced out does give you shadow effects - it's just something to know.

Personally, I use spots wherever I can, since they tend to perform better. I only use emissive planes as ghost lights (i.e. with an opacity of like 0.00001) when I need to illuminate something from an angle where the spotlight would be visible. For example, if someone's in a car and are too dark compared to the background, I might put a ghost light where the windshield is to better illuminate inside.

But, back to the question in the OP: Personally, I adjust the lighting, as required, for each scene. For some well-lit scenes this isn't necessary - you can move characters around and they're still well-lit. But I don't have the slightest problem with fiddling with spotlight locations on a scene-by-scene basic if I need to. Obviously, you try no to make dramatic differences so that it's obvious you've done so, but I'll frequently have "background spots" (like the overhead ones in the sample scene) that handle most of the illumination, and then one or two "character spots" that I use to make sure the characters are well lit. The latter I'll move around to follow the characters as required. Kind of like the fact that they'll light the set in a play, but then may have a spot that follows an actor around to make sure they stand out a bit.

Bottom line - it all depends on the scene and what you're trying to accomplish.
 

mickydoo

Active Member
Game Developer
Jan 5, 2018
179
495
#6
Another thing with emission planes I forgot to mention, is if they are in the view port they are a prick for putting a noticeable line on walls if they are close to one, and really bad at reflecting off windows, even when they are not visible. In that scene for example, I had to remove the glass with the geometry editor.
 

MovieMike

Active Member
Aug 4, 2017
229
895
#7
Another thing with emission planes I forgot to mention, is if they are in the view port they are a prick for putting a noticeable line on walls if they are close to one, and really bad at reflecting off windows, even when they are not visible. In that scene for example, I had to remove the glass with the geometry editor.
Wouldn't it be easier to just go into the glass surface settings and set cutout opacity to 0? Or just remove all reflections on the glass by setting the refraction index from 1.55 to 1?
 

Joraell

Betrayed
Game Developer
Jul 4, 2017
818
2,057
#9
I'm using dome than distant light and one spot light at the most sometimes more spotlights.
 

polywog

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2017
1,475
1,640
#10
Lighting in games is different from lighting in a poser program to make pictures.

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