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1 March 2020

The #1 definitive guide for Beautiful Photo-Realistic Rendering in Events.

by Enzo Appetecchia
Enzo Appetecchia
Posted on 1 March 2020
Photo credit: Skakki Studio | @skakkistudio

If you work in Event Design or Production, you've likely been using Vectorworks or Wysiwyg to design your events. If you're a Lighting Designer, you may have relied on Capture, Light Converse, MA 3D or a similar Console Visualizer, and as impressive as these tools are; when it comes to Photo-Realistic Rendering, might have left you somewhat wanting. Most of these tools focus on the production side of event design, and while they offer incredible control over many aspects, Photo-Realistic Rendering isn't their strongest asset.

Some of you will have used Sketchup with Vray, while the more adventurous amongst you might have ventured into 3DS Max or Cinema 4D - these tools have far more advanced rendering engines, and plugins like Octane and Reshift are exclusively dedicated to the task, but with the added cost and steep learning curve of these packages, only few Event Design agencies and Production Companies can afford the time and resources to employ dedicated Rendering Artists.

Truth be told, Photo-Realistic Rendering is more art than science - to achieve good results requires a lot of thought, and a meticulousness often incompatible with the Events Industry's tight deadlines. The good news is that there are tricks and shortcuts we can use to improve the quality of our renders, and with a bit of practice, patience and a good dose of creativity, we can take photo-realistic rendering to new levels. In this guide, we'll try to explore what makes renders more convincing and how to exploit rendering engines to achieve the best results.

What is Photo-Realistic Rendering?

Well, as you may have guessed, the clue is in the name.
The Wikipedia entry defines 'Photorealism' as "a genre of art, in which an artist studies a photograph and then attempts to reproduce the image as realistically as possible". In the world of computer graphics, the rendering engine creates an image from scratch, simulating the behaviour of light in the Real World through a process called PBR (Physically Based Rendering). This is easier said than done, as in the Real World, the behaviour of light, albeit predictable, is indeed very complex.

The properties of light sources and shadows, their interactions with each other, their bounces around the room, objects and surfaces and their effect on different materials, all need to be considered by the rendering engine in order to create Photo-Realistic Renderings. Materials in particular, with their reflective of refractive properties, surface imperfections like bumps and scratches deeply affect the behaviour of light, and their accurate depiction can make a huge difference in the overall realism of a render.

Rendering Engines

Many rendering engines ship with built-in materials, presets and settings to speed up the process, but it is always good to manipulate these to best suit our needs, and knowing where to look and what to tweak can better help us understand the process. In this guide, we will use Redshift inside Cinema 4D to demonstrate the workflows, but the same principles can be applied to any other rendering engines, and they will form the basis for any kind of Photo-Realistic Rendering, whether you're looking to create a still image, an animation or want to embark on a Real-Time VR project.

Lighting

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Environment

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  • Global Illumination
  • Ambient Occlusion
  • Environment Fog

natural

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  • Sun and Sky
  • Dome
  • HDRI

artificial

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  • Omni
  • Spot
  • IES

Note: Choose the Sections from the Bank Below That You Think Will Fit Well in Your Pillar Page

Below are a few sections that would do well in a pillar page. Depending on your topic, pick the sections that you think would do best on your page. 

You’ll also notice a prompt at the end of each section to link to a supporting cluster post. For example, if you’re writing The Ultimate Guide to Cooking and include a section about cooking pizza, you may want to link to your blog post about Italian food in that section to strengthen your on-page and website SEO. These pages should be hyperlinked naturally at some point in the body of that section.


Materials

Some readers might be new to what you’re writing about. Obviously, if what you’re writing about is well-known, you can skip the definition and head straight to why it matters. 

Explaining why the term or concept matters is important for the reader to understand how to do or use what it is you’re writing about. Talk about the personal and/or business implications of understanding, employing, or using the topic you’re writing about. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

PBR Materials

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Procedural Textures

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  • Diffuse Layer / Colour
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
  • Normal Maps
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure
  • Bump Maps
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.
  • Reflection /IOR / Fresnel
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.
  • Refraction / Caustics
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.
  • Metallicness
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.
  • Roughness
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.
  • Noise
    • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Cameras

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Field of View / Focal length

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Perspective

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People

Elaborate on the background of what you’re writing about and how the concept has developed from its inception to today. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

Details

List out and define a few of the key terms pertaining to your topic, especially if they’re mentioned elsewhere in the post. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

The Pros and Cons of [Term]

If your topic has highs and lows to it, outline those pluses and minuses here. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

# Examples of [Term] 

Proof points are immensely helpful for readers. Let’s say you’re covering the topic of product placement. This section could include 5 - 10 videos of product placement in film and television so readers can see the idea of it in action.  

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

How to [Task/Term] 

If your pillar page is dedicated to a concept that requires or benefits from a step-by-step process, outline those steps in this section. 

It’s important to be clear, concise, and accurate in the steps you provide your reader. Any extra “fluff” to the article may confuse someone, resulting in some readers not achieving the results they intended. 

If what you’re explaining how to do is solve an equation (i.e. “How to Calculate Break Even). provide a step-by-step explanation and example of how to calculate the rate, point, or number you’re explaining how to reach. Show all of your work so the reader can follow along effortlessly. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

# Tips and Reminders for [Term]

When breaking down a difficult concept or task, some readers may still feel overwhelmed and unsure of their ability to understand it. Break down a few best practices on how to best approach the concept, and/or a few reminders about it. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

Analyzing [Term]

If your topic pertains to business or businesses, give an overview of how and why to analyze your topic and how to differentiate between good and bad in the results of that analysis. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]

Resources for [Term]

Provide further reading or resources for people just getting started who may want additional information. This section could include industry blogs, books, social media accounts for thought leaders, and/or suggestions for support/assistance. 

Supporting Cluster Post to Include: [Insert Hyperlink for Reference]


Closing

Wrap up your amazing new blog post with a great closing. Remind your readers of the key takeaway you want them to walk away with and consider pointing them to other resources you have on your website. 

Call-to-Action

Last but not least, place a call-to-action at the bottom of your blog post. This should be to a lead-generating piece of content or to a sales-focused landing page for a demo or consultation.


Checklist Before Publishing

  • Did you provide a thorough, all-encompassing rundown of the topic you’re writing about?
  • Did you provide relevant examples and accurate facts and stats to prove your understanding of the concept?
  • Did you properly cite and backlink your sources?
  • Did you link to all of your supporting blog posts in the cluster?
    • Did you go back to those posts and link to this pillar page?
  • Did you spell check and proofread?
  • Are there at least 2-3 images?
  • Is the post 2,000 words at minimum?
  • Is there at least one piece of interactive content embedded in the body (video, social media post, calculator, podcast, audio file)? 

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