Cinema 4D Cinema 4D Prime Render Menu Edit Render Settings Global Illumination
Function available in CINEMA 4D Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, Studio & BodyPaint 3D

Tips and Tricks

So where does the light actually come from?

Example 1

After objects have been placed and textured/colored, and the slightly reflective floor has been finished, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to light this scene.

In this scene, the only sources of light next to the Physical Sky are the two fluourescent lights at the left.

The Physical Sky and 2 Polygon Lights are used to light the scene.

The front and rear of the room have openings that let a large amount of light in. Two types of light enter the room through these openings, both of which come from the Physical Sky:

These few light sources are enough to achieve a realistic lighting of this scene. The bulk of the work is done by GI. Otherwise the Preset Interior High (High Diffuse Depth) will be used.

A Physical Sky was used with a slightly raised Sky value and a much stronger Sun value applied.

Example 2

Scene by Holger Schömann.

What sets this scene off, in addition to the dispersed reflection of the floor tiles and the displacement-generated area rug, is the HDRI lighting that was used.

Light only enters this room through the window and the skylight!

This room has two relatively large openings through which light can enter - the skylight in the ceiling and the window. Both openings were defined as GI Portals in order to concentrate the GI calculations in the right areas. The light is generated via a HDRI texture on the Sky Object.

Example 3

4 Area lights are used to illuminate the Vase.

What is it that makes this vase look so darn good? Actually, nothing special (except for the excellent composition of the scene itself … ): The scene is lit by four slightly blue and orange colored Area lights with Inverse Square falloff ("Details" tab). The falloff type is important since it most accurately simulates the falloff of real world light. Additionally, the Show in Reflection option has been activated for several of the Area lights, resulting in several reflections on the surface of the vase.

As you can see in the image above, the use of GI (IR+IR Diffuse Depth = 3) results in an even and very pleasant dispersion of light.

Outdoor Scenes

Left: Diffuse Depth = 1; right: Diffuse Depth = 3. The visible difference is minimal but the difference in render times is large.

For outdoor scenes that are illuminated primarily by the sky a Diffuse Depth value of 1 is sufficient since the sky emits light from just about every direction and almost all object surfaces "see" the sky and are illuminated by its light.

Color Mapping and 32-bit Rendering

Left a normal 8-bit rendering; at right the image rendered with Color Mapping. The only light source used was a Polygon Light (object with illuminating material applied). Scene by Holger Schömann.

Balancing the brightness of a rendered image is very important for achieving optimal render results. Many times the brightness of a scene is inhomogeneous or contains faulty contrasts. Sometimes artists tend to pump up the brightness of the light sources if a scene is rendered too dark only to realize that these areas are then too brightly illuminated.

There are two ways in which this can be avoided:

Both methods basically do the same thing - they take rendered images with greater color depths and converts them to 8-bit images.

Exclude Glass from GI

Each of the transparent objects was excluded from GI in a different manner. Render times increased from left to right. Not how dark the shadows were rendered in the middle image.

Depending on the scene you exclude an object from GI by

Due to its transparency, glass can easily be excluded from GI since the effect is so minimal and the render times can thereby be reduced.

You basically have to decide on an individual basis whether or not applying GI to a glass object in your scene will make a noticeable or important difference in the final rendered image. Use the image above as a reference.

GI and Baking Textures

See Bake Object

GI and Specular Highlights

Note that the material’s Specular Color channel will be ignored when only GI is used to illuminate a scene (without using Cinema 4D light objects and only using luminous objects). So, why is this?

Well, both effects are simply well-functioning illusions to make materials look realistic using common, often spherically shaped (i.e. very small) sources of light. In the real world, specular highlights are merely a reflection of area light.

For the calculation of GI this means the following: Specular highlights are adjusted using the Reflectance channel and the size/color of the luminous object.

Of course you can also create additional Cinema 4D light sources that affect specific objects in order to create more specular highlights. This may not be in harmony with the principle of a true global illumination but what counts is the final result!

GI and Animation

GI and animations are technically challenging. If a single image takes a long time to render using GI, then rendering an animation with a series of these images will require very long render times. In addition, Irradiance Cache tends to flicker if its settings are set too low.

You should adhere to the following when creating animations with GI:

Camera Animation and Full Animation

Irradiance Cache offers the following animation types:

Note that when rendering via Team Render, working with a cache is only effective if a single cache (that can only be generated without Team Render on a single computer) is available for distribution prior to rendering. This cache can then be distributed to the render clients (Auto Load option enabled).

If you want to load/save cache files, Auto Load, Auto Save and Full Animation Mode must be enabled for all cache types involved.

GI Caches and Team Render

How do GI and Team Render work together?


With still you don’t have to make any changes; using the default render settings (not the Render Settings in conjunction with this), all Render Clients will participate in rendering a single cache file, which will also be used by all Render Clients during rendering.


First you must ascertain if a Camera Aniamtion or a Full Animation is being rendered (see above for an explanation of how these differ).

The following applies to both methods: If pre-calculated cache files exist that should be used with Team Render, the Auto Load option must be enabled in the Cache Files tab.

If QMC Rendering is being used, which does not require caches, it can also be sent directly to Team Render.

Optimizing Light Mapping

Unfortunately, light maps are not particularly constant from one animation frame to the next. In addition, light leaks can suddenly occur, which negatively effect the GI calculation. Try the following: