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Loving these photons

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post-193-13269393773921_thumb.jpgHaven't been here for a while, but just wanted to say that I'm really lovin' these photons lately. They got me over a tough bump recently. A client wanted to visualize his design for a Columbarium and they sent me a "junk model" from Sketchup. In only a few hours I was able to get back to him with these various options of textures and lighting (yea photons!). It impressed him and his client and made their meeting very valuable...


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Nice work.

Number three is here! I love them too (when you have figured out how they work... :blush: )


I agree with this though. I find photons and the GI system really confusing and complicated to learn, as if it had been just sort of thrown on top of what was already there.

I had to do something very quickly a few weeks a go, kind of like what the OP did and clearly I wasnt ready cause I became so confused with the different options and the explanations in the manual that I ended up using Lightrig, cause that's what I know. I came sort of close to what I wanted, but it would have taken forever to render. I even went online looking for info on the Montecarlo GI system mentioned in the manual to understand the system better but there is literally no info on it.

I remember there were some training DVD's on GI and photons somewhere, for EIAS. Does anyone know what happened to those and where they can be bought?

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Those GI training movies aren't available anymore. They were sold by Paralumino. They would still sell well and the GI info is still relevant.

Thanks, I sure wish I had bought them when I had the chance.


Ian did some nice videos explaining How to use Photons + GI..


Thanks Tomas. Ians's tutorials are great and a pleasure to watch. The tutorials on photons and the v8 features however, I really don't understand anything of what he's talking about, which is probably entirely my fault, definitely not Ian's.

I have done many small projects with EIv8 GI turned on at pretty much default settings, and although I find the rendering times very long, it looks great, but when you decide to dive a little deeper on the settings, on how to optimize render times, and what the buttons and settings do, I find that there is simply not enough info. Anywhere.

This is frustrating but I, like everyone else here, love this software. I have used it for many years, but never heavily, that's its strongest point, how easy it is to use, up until many of these new features were added, that is.

One last thing I wanted to ask, is there any other software or rendering program whose GI system is like EI's? I could try learning about GI that way...


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Thanks Tomas.

Just a room with a light. What I usually do is just turn GI on and since it tends to look good right away, I just move the light around till I'm happy and that's it.

Really wanting to learn how it works though. Thanks for offering to help, and no hurries, I'm probably not the only one who's confused about some of the advanced rendering settings in v8.


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Ola Dan,

Lets Go (all Projects included in the attachment):

1) Turn off Render Window AA to speed your render

2) GI Window, change your Primary rays to 50.0

3) Duplicate your Room Effector and scale it in X axis -1.0 and move it to X-2.315, Y=0.9299, Z=0.0 (to close your room and to give more space to Camera see whats happening)

4) Move your Camera and change your the lens to 16mm

5) Change in the Camera 1 Info window / Roto_Comp /Background Color to White

6) Change in the GI window / Skylight from 0.5 to 1.0

7) Reverse Illumination Bounces to 1.0

8) Do a Snap Shot, It will be something like this:


9) Its clear, GI Skylight doesnt help in interior scenes, only a really small amount of Rays of the Raytrace engine will enter in the Windows's room.

10) Disable GI Skylight check box.

11) Place your Light 1 in the middle of both Windows and next to the wall

12) Change Light type from Radial to Area Light

13) Place the Area Light Reference in the Opposite wall of the windows

14) Light 1 Info Window / X-Form / Area Light Size U=4.1 V=0.8

15) Enable Raytrace Shadow

16) Enable Use GI Sampling Engine in the same Shadow Tab

17) Change the Optimize Distance value from 0.0 to 2.44 (My Light To Reference Distance in the X-Form tab)

18) Go to Area Light 1 info window / Properties / Area Light Tab / and change the cool feature “Block Distance” from 0.0 to 0.13 (which tells to Camera Analyze the walls and see where the Rays are blocked by the walls or not, this means, all the 100 Rays will be going in the windows holes without loose any ray)

19) Change in the GI Window the Color Tolerance from 1.0 to 3.0, It will make the Shadows details more precise.

20) Do a Snap Shot, You will have something like this


21) Photons time:

22) Go to Photons / Photons Map Tab:

23) Enable Generate Photon Map

24) Change the GI Lookup Radii value from 2.0 to 4.0 (this is a value which I found interesting in all my project scenes)

25) Change Baking pop-up to Database (Hit OK only)

26) Change the Calculate Pop-up to Permanent, It will tell Camera to Save the Photon Cache, if nothing is animated in the scene, only the Camera, it will read the Cache instead of Calculate it each frame.

27) Change the Direct Lookup Radii value from 4.0 to 5.0 (A good value is when Direct is half of Database “segment length” value, which is already 10.0)

28) Change Bounce Lookup Radii from 0.0 to 6.0

29) Change the Density Diagnoses “Distance” value from 1 to 2.44

30) Since your Scene size is really small, you can see looking the Density Diagnosis Photons is really Huge, you will need to have around 300.0.

31) Change the Emission Photons from 100.0 to 1.0

32) Do a snap Shot, It will be Full White

33) Change in the Area Light Properties / General Tab / Intensity value from 1.0 to 0.5

34) Render a Snap Shot, it will be like this:


35) Go to Area Light Properties / Dropoff Tab / and Enable Dropoff and Change Dropoff Type pop-up from Linear to Quadratic

36) In the same Tab, change Control Distance from Absolute Value to Light to Reference.

37) In the same Tab, Change the Over Intensity from 1.5 to something like 60.0

37) Quadratic Dropoff + Light to Reference will tell Camera to simulate better the groups next to a Light, burning more the surface of the groups, in our case the windows holes.

38) Do a snap shot render, it will be something like this:


39) Change GI Window Primary Rays to 200.0 and Area Light Properties / Area Light Tab Primary Rays to 300.0

40) Change Render Window Info Anti-Alias tab / Anti-Alias pop-up to Adaptive

41) Added a Red Sphere only to show Why I changed the GI Window Bounces from 0 to 1. :)

We see the Bleeding Red colors on the Floor.

42) Render a snap shot, it will be like this:


43) Last Feature which is really interesting and need to be used like last alternative is Light 1 Info Window / Properties / Customize Tab

44) I changed both Direct Illumination and Bounced Illumination graphs to show How it can help the user improve the Light scene, Open the project included and analyze it.

45) Render a Snap Shot, It will be something like this:

Hope that helps

Feel Free to message me any time :)

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I forgot the last Snap Shot:

And the Project Files:

Enjoy it



Wow, lots of stuff to go through. That last snapshot looks beautiful, hard to believe it comes from my file... :)

Thanks so much Tom. I'll get back to you when I go over everything.

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alright this is really an incredibly useful step by step you've put together.

To get the renders to look like yours as soon as you start to use photons I had to delete and create a new photon map file almost every time. It's the first time I use photons though...

I am simply amazed at the last step, the light customization and bounces customization graphs, and how important this part is to get that GI look I see in some people's work. I'm glad I know now how to get to this point. These graphs and the way you can push and pull light and colors is news to me and I love the graph interface (much better than punching numbers). I can see how you'd learn to change the look of the lighting just by the shape of the graph (with a lot of practise of course)

I dont know to what extent but the render times seem much better than anything Ive ever done with GI before, at various sizes Ive just tested (still testing right now and will continue tomorrow)

Great stuff Tom.

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That would be great if or when you could find the time, Tom. This kind of step by step process made so clear and simple is good enough to be on the manual. I think a lot of people would find it useful especially new users. This stuff sure goes deep though...

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Ola Dan,

First: Photons + Reflex

1) Open the Last Photons + Customize project

2) Make the RED ball reflective / Sphere Material Reflectivy + Use Fresnel Term to attenuate the reflection center of the sphere + Change the Raytrace Mode pop-up to Normal.

3) Light 1 / Photons / Photons Map Tab, Change Map Mode pop-up from GI to GI & Secondary.

4) Thats it, render a snap shot, it will be like this:


Project Attached:


Have Fun



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Ola Dan,

Now: Photons + Glass

1) Open the Last Photons + Customize project

2) Replace the RED ball Material with a Glass Material from Material Pallete / Sphere Material Reflectivy + Use Fresnel Term to attenuate the reflection center of the sphere + Change the Raytrace Mode pop-up to Normal.

3) Sphere Material Info window / Transparency tab / Main Options Tab / Enable Use Raytrace check box, Transparency slider = 0.001, Refraction Index = 1.33 + Use Fresnel Term as Transparent.

4) To speed up the render, Sphere Group info window / Shadow Tab / Turn off the Receive Shadow check box.

5) Light 1 / Photons / Photons Map Tab, Change Map Mode pop-up from GI to GI & Secondary.

6) Add a second Radial Light in the scene and Change the GI Mode pop-up to Secondary.

7) Change this new light Intensity / Properties / General Tab / from 1.0 to 0.45 and turn off the Enable Highlight check box.

This extra Radial light in Secondary mode + Another light with Photons help to have a better glass without Huge render times, you can disable it to see only the Light with Photons working, you will have a darker glass.

I use this trick to avoid secondary rays in GI window which make GI renders realllllly slow.

8) Thats it, render a snap shot, it will be like this:


Project Attached:


Hope that helps



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  • 5 months later...
Block distance tells Camera to use the Rays only in the windows holes

Oh, yes I understand block distance.

But if I were to use 2 lights which were each the same size as the window, that removes the block distance calculation required when using only a single light.

So my mind told me that it would be faster to use 2 lights and no blocking.

But yeah, I have used block distance a few times and it makes a considerable difference :)

I look forward to seeing the other additions you have made with the new systems :D

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