How to Use Volumetric Light in Cinema 4D Properly 03/03/2016

How to Use Volumetric Lights in Cinema 4D Properly

Volumetric light (as opposed to "visible light", which does not interact with polygons) makes almost everything look awesome. Take this simple scene for example. Here we have a simple text object, a floor with some basic materials applied. As they stand, they look a little dull. Add in two volumetric light sources into the mix and you have a totally different result. 

However, using volumetric light is not always as straight-forward as it might seem. Below are a few tips you will certainly benefit from. Just keep in mind that each improvement comes at a cost. Render times are greatly affected by the quality of the volumetric light. 

  1. Once you add a light to your scene, go to its "General" tab and turn the "Visible Light" option into "Volumetric Light". This will make the light interact with polygons (i.e. objects will block the visible light's path).
  2. In the "Visibility" tab, increase the "Outer Distance" to extend the light's reach. 
  3. Make sure you change the "Sample Distance" to a lower number. this tells Cinema 4D to calculate the interaction between the light and the polygons at smaller increments and results in an artefact-free look. 
  4. If you're using a single light source, turn on the "Global Illumination" to help the dark side of the text to be slightly more visible as the GI will make the light bounce off the floor (provided that you have one!).
  5. Enable the "Area Shadows" to stop the light going through polygons.
  6. If you have any blurry reflections, use the "Physical Renderer" to make these look smoother and grain-free. You might need to tweak the "Sampling Quality" to get better results.
  7. Add in a weaker "Fill Light" to set the mood for the scene. In the above example we have an intense (about 250%) green light with a much weaker (about 40%) blue light. Both are omni-lights.

There are many other factors that can affect the look and quality of the volumetric lights such as different types of materials, anti-aliasing, render settings, and the list goes on. The best way to learn more about them is to use them. So go ahead, put on your creative hat and turn the lights on!

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