Thursday, October 25th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Lightmap releases HDR Light Studio Carbon Drop 4

Originally posted on 16 February 2018. Scroll down for news of the Drop 4 update.

Lightmap has released HDR Light Studio Carbon, the new version of its real-time lighting design tool, adding an interactive render view, support for HiDPI displays, and speed boosts when using area lights.

The update also marks a change in version numbering: under Lightmap’s previous system, it would have been HDR Light Studio 5.5, but the firm has now switched to codenames for releases.

Design your own synthetic HDRI-based studio lighting set-ups
Widely used in automotive and design visualisation – and more recently, visual effects, particularly since the release of version 5 – HDR Light Studio enables artists to design their own synthetic HDRIs.

These can be created by dragging lights around on a rectangular canvas, or by clicking directly in the render view to position highlights, at least in host applications that support the software’s LightPaint system.

LightPaint can also be used to create supplementary area lights inside the host 3D app.

Users range from major VFX facilities like Framestore, MPC and Luma Pictures to advertising specialists like Ars Thanea and Saddington Baynes, and the in-house teams of most major car manufacturers.

New in Carbon: a new interactive render view linked to 3ds Max and Maya’s render engines
To that, the Carbon release adds a new interactive render view that launches a render session in a host 3D application and displays the results interactively inside HDR Light Studio.

The system, which is intended to improve the accuracy of render previews – and to help users with single monitor set-ups – is currently only available via the software’s 3ds Max and Maya plugins.

However, it is compatible with most key third-party renderers: V-Ray, Corona, Arnold and Redshift in the case of 3ds Max, and V-Ray, Arnold, OctaneRender, Redshift and RenderMan in the case of Maya.

Workflow improvements and speed boosts when using area lights
Other than that, the changes are mainly workflow-related, including the option to store custom interface layouts on a per-host-application basis, and support for HiDPI displays.

There are also a number of performance improvements, particularly to production renders containing procedural skies, and when rendering area lights through HDR Light Studio’s own built-in renderer.

Lightmap doesn’t put any figures on the speed boosts, but says that area lights can now be “created, adjusted and soloed instantly”, even in “huge” 3D scenes.

Changes to the connection plugins to host 3D applications
The individual connection plugins have also been updated, particularly 3ds Max and Maya (above). In both, importing a 3D scene and creating a lighting set-up are now described as essentially one-click processes.

Cinema 4D users get support for the V-RayforC4D and Redshift renderers, and LightWave users get support for LightWave 2018.

Updated 10 May 2018: Lightmap has released HDR Light Studio Carbon Drop 2, an incremental update.

New features include Value Blend, which blends the luminosity values from secondary lighting content into the primary content: for example, to add a hot spot to a softbox.

It can also be used to clamp the brightness of an image: for example, that of the sun in an HDRI.

The update also adds Box Gradient, a new content type driven by horizontal and vertical ramp controls, and intended for creating soft-edged light sources.

Workflow improvements include new stops on the brightness slider mimicking traditional photographic exposure settings, a region zoom tool in the render view toolbar, and colour coding of light properties.

Outside the core app, the UI of the Maya connection has been updated, with shelf buttons replacing the old control panel; and the 3ds Max and Modo plugins now support the latest versions of the host software.

There are also a number of smaller changes and performance boosts. Find a full list via the link below.

Updated 27 July 2018: Lightmap has released HDR Light Studio Carbon Drop 3, adding a new connection to the standalone version of OctaneRender and updating the connections to 3ds Max and Houdini.

The update also expands HDR Light Studio’s presets system, adding new preset types for entire light rigs; Content that can be applied to existing lights, like bulb types; and Elements like colour or value ramps.

Users can also now save their own presets.

Updated 25 October 2018: Lightmap has released HDR Light Studio Carbon Drop 4, adding a new gamma control for images, designed to help users adjust the form of reflections in renders.

Other than that, it’s mainly UI and workflow changes, including a new option to batch import HDRIs.

Pricing and availability
HDR Light Studio Carbon is available for Windows 7+, Mac OS X 10.7+ and various Linux distros.

Connection plugins are available for 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Houdini, LightWave, Maxwell, Maya, Modo, and a range of CAD tools: you can see a table of versions supported and HDR Light Studio features available here.

A node-locked perpetual licence of the base software costs $995; a floating licence costs $1,495. Connection plugins start at $145 each. Rental deals are also available.

Read more about the new features in HDR Light Studio Carbon on Lightmap’s blog
(Separate posts cover each individual update)