Lightmap has released HDR Light Studio 4, a major update to its innovative image-based lighting software.
HDR Light Studio 4 introduces new tools with which artists can direct the lighting within a rendered image in real time; unifies the old standard and Pro editions of the software; and cuts the price to $499.
New Mac OS X and Linux editions of the software have also been released.
From visualisation to visual effects
HDR Light Studio enables artists to create synthetic HDRI maps or edit existing HDRI files and see the resulting image-based lighting applied to their 3D scenes in real time.
The software has found its primary niche in visualisation work, but has been used for visual effects, including a recent Framestore NY Mercedes spot.
Framestore NY’s recent spot for Mercedes was created using HDR Light Studio to edit existing HDRIs.
New tools for interactive image-based lighting
The major additions to HDR Light Studio 4 are the LightPaint and LightCam features announced in version 3.5.
LightPaint enables artists to click directly on the rendered view to position virtual light sources around the 3D model – effectively allowing you to ‘paint in’ highlight and shadow placement.
“LightPaint has revolutionised our lighting workflow,” said Tom Painter of Bigman. “No more trial and error and waiting for re-renders: just instant visual feedback as you move lights around.”
LightCam enables users to ‘look through’ lights on the HDRI map, using camera navigation to determine their placement. The software also gains an improved GUI, software-specific output presets and a Python API.
Pricing and availability
HDR Light Studio 4 is available now for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, price £299/$499/€399. The new price is £100 less than the old standard version, and £300 less than the old Pro edition.
The release is a free update for users of version 3 of the old Pro edition. Educational pricing is also available.
The range of compatible software has been expanded, with free plug-ins available for packages including Maya, Houdini, Maxwell Studio and KeyShot; and the option to import scenes from 3ds Max, Softimage, Cinema 4D, modo and LightWave via the OBJ, DAE and/or MI file formats.
The exact list of import routes is quite complex, and is summarised here on the Lightmap website.