New script: Fake (and fast) HDR – tutorial coming soon
In a mixture of self motivated curiosity out of work hours and official studio hours, I wrote a script that fakes the lighting produced by (commonly HDR) environment images.
Its already out and about on GitHub, and you can DOWNLOAD it and test it.
(and don’t forget to report any bugs in my bug tracker!).
In a nutshell, the script creates a spherical light array with lamps that emit colors taken from an image.
It can reduce the render time for Blender Internal by more than half and get a fairly similar result to an HDR image.
In cycles its not very useful at the moment because HDRs are efficiently rendered in Cycles, and the render times are pretty much the same when using the script or the original image.
A more detailed explanation and tutorial will have to wait a bit, but its coming soon.
Meanwhile I can say that to get good results you need to play with it a bit and try orienting the light array by rotating the empty (that controls all the lights) and play with the light settings (shadow softness and samples, intensity, etc).
Here’s an example of bad and better settings, compared with the original HDR image render:
I’m still learning how to use it too, so if you get some interesting results and insights, please comment here and let me know!