This video demonstrates creating High Dynamic Range Images and using them as lights in Maya.  To shoot proper HDRIs, you really need a full frame camera and a 8mm fisheye lens.

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This tutorial is the 'budget' HDRI, when you don't have a 5D Mark II and an expensive lens.  This video shows techniques that you can use with a entry level Canon DSLR with a tripod and a chrome sphere.  Once the bracketed exposures are taken, we merge them together in Photohop, then take them into Nuke to unwrap them and remove unwanted artifacts.  Then we bring it into Maya and set up our renders.

In this tutorial I'll go over:

  • Merging your HDRIs in Photoshop
  • The Magic Lantern firmware update for certain Canon DLSRs
  • Unwrapping your Mirror Ball image in Nuke
  • Compositing two HDRIs in Nuke to remove unwanted artifacts
  • Doing a proper Convolve on your HDRI to create smoother Final Gathering renders
  • Setting up Mental Ray in Maya to use two HDRIs, one for Final Gathering and one for reflections.
  • Making sure your alpha is rendered correctly.

You can download the jpgs to create your own HDRI for practice here.