Metals and other reflective surfaces are only as good as the environment they reflect. This is why professional photographers use elaborate studio setups with multiple lights, soft boxes and color gels to create interesting reflections on the surfaces they are photographing. The HDRI-Studio collection is a collection of high dynamic range images that allows you to easily load studio setups into your scene as lighting and reflection information. This lets you recreate in your rendering what the people at HDRI-Studio Ltd. created in a physical studio.
HDRI-Studio maps are available in three product groups: Neutral, Gels and Abstract.
Neutral a range of different neutral lighting setups containing varied combinations of soft boxes, strip soft boxes ideal for bottles, hexagonal soft boxes and cubic tents.
Gels a range of different colored lighting setups containing varied combinations of soft boxes and hexagonal soft boxes.
Abstract colorful abstract patterns with occational point light sources or motion streaks.
The selection of files cover a wide range of usage situations within product design and advertising imaging. The HDRI files are sold one by one, though some sampler bundles also exist. The preview options on the site are great, letting you get a clear idea of how each file will render. Click here to see a preview example.
Why would you use this instead of white cards or VRay lights? The answer is added detail in your renderings. VRay lights produce perfect reflections, but in order to get realism in renderings you often want the subtle imperfections that real studio lights give you. This helps eliminating the too-clean or too-perfect look that screams computer generated. In the pictures below you can see a close-up of the difference between the reflections from plain VRay lights, and the reflections from HDRI-Studio.
The HDRI-Studio files were captured in a professional studio with a Spheron camera. Real objects were lit first, and then replaced by the Spheron camera to capture the light of that setup. Each file contains the equivalent of 26 f-stops of bracketing, and has been retouched to remove unwanted detail.
HDRI-Studio images are available in the four resolutions, ranging from approximately 750×375px to 6000×3000px . This allows you to go from fast rendering when you don't need much reflection detail, to high detail and crispness of reflections for use in print.
Workflow in VRay
Using the HDRI-Studio files in VRay is very simple. It is just a matter of loading the files with the VRayHDRI map, set the type to spherical environment, and apply it to the environment overrides of your choice in VRay. You can chose to use the environment as both the light source and for reflection/refraction, or you can use it for just one of them. Often you might want to use the HDRI-Studio files in just the reflections. You can also map the HDRI-Studio files on a VRay dome light.
Usually you won't have to worry about more than rotating the HDRI to select the best angle to get a professional studio render.
Overall this is a great and varied collection of studio light images. They enable you to get product shots done very quickly, with minimal setup time and great results. Hobbyists and students will probably find the images too pricy, as they are more expensive than other more traditional HDR images. However, for professional use you will easily make up the cost of a few of these HDRs with the time you will save lighting your product shot.