Technical Questions Regarding HDRs:
How to use HDR in 3D Renderings:
With most higher-end 3d applications, you can load HDRs into either the environment or into various lighting parameters. From there you would choose your rendering settings and process your images.
Since there are numerous applications which support HDR lighting, it is best to consult your products help files or to do a search on the Internet. For example, if you used Mental Ray with 3D Studio Max, you may want to search for “Mental Ray HDR tutorial” or “Mental Ray .exr tutorial” and so on.
I’ve provided a Free HDR tutorial using Vray that should get most people up and running. Please note that these tutorial articles are older and may not be up to date. I plan on revising them shortly.
Regarding other 3D applications and their lighting usage, I recommend searching the Internet as I don’t know many of these other 3D programs.
HDR File Formats Provided:
Two major HDR formats available that are supported by most major 3d graphics applications. These formats are .hdr and .exr. EXR (also known as OpenEXR) is a free format provided by Industrial Light & Magic and is widely accepted throughout the 3d industry. EXR is a format used in many of their movie productions. It has a far greater range of features as well as lossless image compression algorithms.
Due to the widespread use of .hdrs, I am currently providing the .hdr format available for download.
sIBL Format Support:
Please note that as of 2016, I don’t know the current state of sIBL. It’s been a part-time, volunteer project for many of us. Information found on this website regarding sIBL usage may be outdated although I believe most of this is still applicable
sIBL (Smart Image Based Lighting) formats files are available for download with each purchase. sIBL is an open-source structure that plugs into many 3D rendering applications. It’s ease-of-use and high-optimization (low memory and file size overhead) makes it ideal for renderings using HDR lighting. It’s essentially a “plug and play” operation if you take the time to figure out how to install it. It can make an entire HDR lighting workflow much easier depending on the 3D application.
If you haven’t read about sIBL, please visit the official website and forums at:
HDR Map Types Provided:
HDRSource provides rectilinear maps.
Dimensions are listed next to every product.
Please keep in mind that large HDRs are often overkill for most 3D lighting purposes. In fact, most artists will use HDRs for lighting and shadows at a down-sized/blurred image that still lends similar quality. Professional artists may use HDR for some reflections but that is somewhat scene and time dependent. File formats such as .jpg, .bmp, .png, or.tiff are frequently substituted for viewport backgrounds. These “plates” help limit processing and memory overhead.
Creating HDR Panoramas:
Unfortunately, this is a complicated answer and it’s beyond this website’s scope. The best recommendation I could make is to purchase a book on the subject as most websites are not as comprehensive on the topic of HDR creation.