Advanced Tips for More Realistic Visualization

This article will focus on tips advanced users of 3ds Max® apply to improve the realism of our renderings and the tools available to us through the Vray Frame Buffer. At the bottom of the frame buffer, you’ll find several icons representing options available to us. Using these options, we refine our renderings.  Figure 1 identifies the items we’ll be discussing.

Figure 1: Vray frame buffer

Color Corrections

The first icon opens the Color Corrections options displayed on the right side of Figure 1. These options can help reduce the need for post-processing and speed up production.  The options we’ll cover are Color Clamping, Levels, Curves, Exposure, and Lens Effects. 

Color Clamping

Ensuring the light is balanced in a scene helps it appear more natural and real.  Essentially this is a step in our production where we review if shadows are too dark or ensure the lights aren’t too bright, washing out details from our scene. The color clamping tool can be used as an option to assist with this process. By disabling the Forced Color Clamping icon, the Vray Frame Buffer will identify the areas of our image that are over-exposed. See Figure 2 for example.  With the Vray Frame Buffer, we can correct this by adjusting the exposure. As we slide the exposure up and down we’ll see the highlighted areas adjust accordingly.

Figure 2: Over-exposed areas

Using this option tends to adjust our images. To counter the negative effects from that adjustment without re-rendering or adjusting lighting, we use the Curves tool. A typical s-curve shape will typically counter this adequately.  See Figure 3 for example.

Figure 3: Color curve

Lens Effects and Tips

The lack of particulates in a rendering or elements such as volumetric light and bloom can make a considerable difference in how realistic the image appears. This is because both real atmosphere and cameras have particles our eyes naturally attune to. Excluding elements like these is one of the quickest ways to break a viewer’s immersion.  Adding elements like these helps to ensure the image appears more natural and reflects the mood of a scene.  See Figure 4 for an exaggerated example, where the fog was added to the right option in an effort to portray a colder environment and atmosphere. 

Figure 4: Adding fog

It is very important that no matter how little the effect, we work to add the proper elements to our scenes to mimic atmospheric conditions and imitate the effects real cameras produce.  Chaos Group recognized that one such element was bloom. Bloom is essentially the component that appears around any light source, or lighting in general, and is generally present in all circumstances, although not always so noticeably. See Figure 5 for examples of a bloom effect from a real candle and Figure 6 where the bloom effect is considerably less noticeable. The great thing about the Vray Next Frame Buffer is that we can select the Lens Effects icon to add bloom and adjust it however we like, watching it update in real time.

Figure 5: Bloom effect

Figure 6: Limited bloom effect

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