Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Lightmap releases Blender plugin for HDR Light Studio

Lightmap has released HDR Light Studio Xenon Drop 1, the latest version of the lighting design tool, introducing a new TCP/IP-based API for its live links to other DCC and CAD applications.

The API is currently used in the OctaneRender connection plugin and in a new Blender plugin, which provides a live link between HDR Light Studio and the open-source 3D software.

Design your own HDRI-based studio lighting set-ups
Used in a range of industries, from automotive and design visualisation to visual effects, HDR Light Studio streamlines the process of designing HDRI-based lighting set-ups.

Users can create synthetic HDRIs by dragging 2D lights around on a rectangular canvas, or by clicking directly in the render view to position highlights in host apps that support the software’s LightPaint system.

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

Lightmap also includes tools for editing HDRIs, with the option to add synthetic lights to existing photographic images, plus a procedural sky system for lighting exterior scenes.

New in Xenon: new TCP/IP-based API improves connections with host apps
To that, HDR Light Studio Xenon Drop 1 – effectively, HDR Light Studio 2020.1, since Lightmap now uses codenames for its annual series of releases – adds a new TCP/IP-based API.

It improves the performance of the connection plugins, which create a live link between HDR Light Studio and a range of DCC and CAD applications, providing a “far more responsive lighting experience”.

Aside from the new Blender connection, the TCP/IP API is currently only used in HDR Light Studio’s OctaneRender connection, but Lightmap says that it aims to port the other plugins to it “where applicable”.

New Blender plugin makes the lighting toolset available to open-source 3D users
However, the main change in the Xenon release is the Blender connection itself, which makes HDR Light Studio accessible to users of the open-source 3D application for the first time.

The move reflects the growing interest in Blender for design and visualisation as well as entertainment work, following last year’s milestone 2.8x releases, and high-profile donations to the Blender Development Fund.

“With the significant recent investment in Blender development, many of our existing customers are now looking to use it in their professional work,” commented Lightmap CEO Mark Segasby.

Pricing and availability
HDR Light Studio Xenon Drop 1 is available for Windows 7+, macOS 10.12+ and various Linux distros.

Connection plugins are available for a range of common DCC and CAD tools: you can see a table of versions supported and HDR Light Studio features available here.

Node-locked perpetual licences cost $1,295, which includes access to the new Blender connection and those for 10 other DCC and CAD applications, including 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya and Modo.

Subcriptions start at $140/year for artists with revenue under $100,000/year, with Automotive plans also providing access to plugins for VRED, DeltaGen and Patchwork 3D. Find full pricing details here.

Read more about the new Blender connection for HDR Light Studio on Lightmap’s blog

Read more about the new features in HDR Light Studio Xenon Drop 1 on Lightmap’s blog

Read a full list of new features in HDR Light Studio Xenon Drop 1 in the online changelog

Full disclosure: in my work outside CG Channel as a freelance technical writer, I helped to prepare some of Lightmap’s marketing materials for the new Blender connection for HDR Light Studio.