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HDR Images

Well-suited for this type of image are panoramas or spherical images that contain the entire environment surrounding the photographer. In order for these images to have a more realistic reflection, HDR images should be used. Compared to normal 8-bit bitmaps, HDR images have a dramatically higher color depth of 32 bits.

To create such images, a series of exposures (images) have to be shot, which will then be combined to create a single image. This image then contains a realistic depiction of the differences in brightness of, for example the sun and a sheet of paper illuminated by the sun. In a normal image, both objects would simply be 100% white. The Cinema 4D Content Browser’s Presets folder contains several HDR textures from which to choose (Content Browser menu: Prime | Materials | HDRI). Simply double-click the desired image to add it to your scene.

These images are not only well-suited for simulating reflections from the environment but can also be used to illuminate a scene in combination with Global Illumination. The image’s lighting mood can be carried over to the scene’s objects, which can make integrating 3D objects into photos much easier. However, since HDR images may contain slight distortions and may not have a large enough resolution for use in print, additional "backplates" are used. These are high-res images that depict the scene’s background. This way panoramas or spherical images can be separated from the background when used for reflections.

Using HDR images within Cinema 4D’s materials is no different from using normal bitmaps. Simply load an HDR image into a material’s Color channel and either apply it to a large sphere that encloses your scene or use the Sky object from the Create | Environment menu. The Sky object is also a large sphere whose size is infinite by default, thus automatically enclosing your entire scene.

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