Yong Kim shares his script for Maya that will automate, or semi-automate the process of creating physical light source objects in Maya, based on an HDR image, placing the HDR’s Lights as textures for the Maya lights.

semi-automatic light generator and uses input HDRI

Auto HDRI Light Gen might be a tricky sell, as it needs a few specifics to run. You are required to install or have Python, PyQt4, Maya, Vary for Maya, Nuke, and although these are all cross-platform, Yong Kim notes that Auto HDRI Light Gen is windows only. Check out the Auto HDRI Light Gen for Maya here.

Extracting Lighting information from HDR’s is typical technique in VFX. The issue with using a straight-up HDR or IBL to light a scene runs into a stumbling block where the IBL is not actually a distance based light source, its more based in ambient light.

Essentially making the lighting solution unable to simulate a distance based falloff for all the light sources in the HDR, and all of the objects in the scene will receice the same amount of color, intensity, and shadow.

Recently, we have seen a great tutorial from Jon Tojek, showing how to extract lighting from an HDR manually, and if you haven’t seen that yet, you can check that out on a previous post.

The concept of automating the extraction of light dome information is not really a new one, with other efforts put forth, such as the BA_LightDome which is a standalone application that reads HDRI light probe images and creates a light rig from that image.