Peter Aversten

Lead Texture Artists
Meshmen Studios

HDR Capture for VFX

Capturing HDR images is the bread and butter on any film production set that involves visual effects. It’s the fastest way to get the lighting captured from the set on the day of the shoot. In visual effects, we use it for look development purpose as well as in shot production with additional localized lighting. The drawback with HDR lights is falloff or mainly the lack of falloff. If you take the sun it’s very far away in real life, 149.6 million km to be exact. We are essentially remapping the surrounding light contribution to a sphere so the sun and your kitchen light will be equally far away in computer graphics terms. In most cases, this will not make much of a difference and it is used for cheap reflections.

 The process

I have been capturing HDR for my personal library for a long time and this is a list of some of the tools and techniques I use.

“Your kitchen light is the same distance as the sun!”

Peter Aversten

Canon 5dmk3 Canon 8-15mm L Promote HDR remote (discontinued) Nodal ninja Panorama rig Manfrotto tripod Manfrotto 057 Magnesium Ball Head with RC4 Quick Release Colorchecker passport video
Photoshop Photomatix HDR batch program Kolor Auto Pano Giga (discontinued) For an alternative look into ptGui


Capturing HDR images will still have its place in VFX for the foreseeable future. We can also get some kind of dimension back by taking our captured HDR and remap it to a scan or a model of a room or environment. I will cover this technique in an upcoming VFX fundamentals episode.


“Want me to cover something specific? Leave your comments below or use #askmeshmen on twitter ”

Peter Aversten

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