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Alex Lovett


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Tags: - C4D - Vray - Maxwell - AfterEffects
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Simulating camera/eye optical effects and response
lens flares
depth of field
motion blur
lens effects/diffraction
chromatic aberration

-- Examples --

I've learned a ton about color correction/film response simulation and lens blur/bloom/bokeh simulation
For more detail on a project of mine that involved it you can go here:

Link: --- Lens Simulation

I also did a bunch of research into simulating auto-exposure

Fresnel Lens Simulated in Maxwell:

Link: --- fresnel_lens_-


Light splitting, chromatic aberration, rainbows. = pretty!






Link: --- february_rainbow_2006

Some nice real world lens flares:

Link: --- 1026048408

Link: --- 288235379

-- Tools --

Make your own LensFlare by hand in AfterEffects with expressions:

Link: --- lens_flare

Other 2D solutions like Knoll Light Factory:

Link: --- knoll-light-factory-pro


Frischluft : Flair - BoxBlur with Aberrations:

Frischluft Lenscare: Simulated DOF:

Frischluft Lenscare:

Frischluft Lenscare: Distortion around edge:

Frischluft - Fresh Curves
Looks powerful, hopefully It's 32bit as I've been looking a for 32bit powerful curves editor!

Frischluft - ZbornToy


With Maxwell Renders SimuLens tool you can (on any HDR image you feed it) produce a very realistic lens simulation, simulating the aperture and any dirt/obstruction on the lens:

The above was rendered in Vray by me, then color treated and given to Maxwell for the lens effect
You cannot (as far as I see) do your typical cheesy lens flare with the several concentric rings

Some tests of throwing it some brush strokes done in photoshop in 32bit:

Not quite realistic, but adds a nice touch

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Tags: - C4D - Vray - Maxwell - AfterEffects
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-- My Results --

I've been racking my brain lately over human eye-sight optics. The natural response curve of the human eye and how I can simulate that on a 3D render. Including bloom effects and how the eye adapts to changes in brightness and depth of field auto-focus.

I'm working now with a realistic type of scene, the end goal will be to transition the 'realism' knowledge and tools to not so ordinary subject matter and retain the same level of realism with rather more abstract items.

I believe you should always render to a linear color space, no tone mapping. Then take the 32bit output and simulate the tone/color-mapping in post using something like AfterEffects. This then gives you the ability to detect over bright areas and 'bloom' them and realistically simulate film/camera/eye response to color and brightness. So simulate the camera in post, not in render (if possible)

This isn't great for things like DOF which really need to be done as part of the ray tracing till we can save out volumetric images from renders. But hopefully enough information exists to simulate the other effects more interactively.

I was wondering why a lot of my renders didn't seem to be HDR, or looked 'weird' then I figured out it was because I was relying on Vrays tone-mapping to adjust my image to exposure all areas evenly, which achieves a weird bland but evenly exposed image.

All of this makes it increasingly important to have accurate setup including scale of scene, accurate sun brightness and area light brightness. And this can be hard if you use any HDR's to light the scene as they are usually relatively calibrated and are not in anyway accurately emitted the correct brightness of light.

I'm also working on a way to have an animation auto-expose like a camera or the human eye to changes in brightness.

Right now for animation the only way I can see of changing the exposure over time is render the whole animation once out to HDR, then have another 3D program import each frame of that animation and displays on a camera facing plane, or hangs it in front of the camera... then with interactive render-region, key frame the camera exposure settings so the image is exposed correctly. Then hide the plane, and re-render the movie again with those key-framed exposure settings thus simulating the propper DOF and motion blur that goes with it too. But I want REAL subtle and fast exposure changes and no way you could key frame that, would be insanely painful.

As a side note, I see 3ds Max Design isto include Exposure technology for simulating and analyzing sun, sky, and artificial lighting to assist with LEED 8.1 certification.

UPDATE : Ok, I should be able to do this within AfterEffects now, I've found it can detect average brightness, but the logarithmic math and such are beyond me so I'm waiting on some serious math nerds to help me out with a working formula


I've found Maxwell simulates a camera lens really well, and you can load any HDR image into it and have it work It's magic. The blurring is a bit extreme in the following images, think of it as a very very dirty camera lens.

Here is a before and after:

The above is with some color work in AE, simulating some film color profiles. Simulating the response curve of film greatly improves the image, you get more interest contrasts and color shifts, and in general just looks nicer and more photographs removes the highly linear and boring CG look that's so typical otherwise.

Link: --- hdr-tone-mapping-using-film-profiles

Details on Linear Workflow, general 32bit color ness and jazz to be found at the following link:
Good site full of info on Cinematography, Color Correction, 32bit Linear Workflow etc etc:


Odd super bright pixels appeared in my render and resulted in this blow out... cool though, no reason you couldn't use this effect on images drawn in Photoshop from scratch.

ooo.. I like it.. very much

Let the busted camera effects commence!:

Looks almost real


like a scale model. Burns done with stock footage of film burns thanks to Artbeats Film Clutter 1

Not conscious of it, as I don't know anything about cinematography, but I have apparently been trying to simulate super-8 film. I wanted a hand held look, and some more interesting color and exposures, a more textural... rich, warm.. romantic? look to it, which I suppose super-8 achieves rather naturally. I'm not interested in recreating reality exactly, I want a better reality, an artistic reality. Technology (digital cameras) may be getting closer to capturing reality but, is that a good thing, well yes as long as you can then go and post produce it to be more interesting.

I get the feeling that capturing friends and family on a modern consumer camera is more akin to spying or surveillance footage, unflattering, cold. It's kinda funny really, using a computer to simulate what is essentially bad technology.

Hah, just found someone saying the same thing "It's somewhat ironic that now we have the ability to rid our screens of the scratches, lines and bits of debris that find It's way onto film, we choose to put them back in digitally".."Similarly, just as lens manufacturers have worked hard over years developing special coatings to eliminate artifacts, those involved in CG can't get enough of these lens effects, though considered undesirable in traditional photography, their popularity in CG lies in the fact that they are visual hooks that we associate with reality, or at least a photographed version of reality. They are also fairly useful when it comes to hiding something that's not rendering quite right too"

I want that same warmth and nice exposure with all the beautiful blooms and light effects that go with it, but no so much the dirt, blur, shake and low frame rate. I'm going to have an experiment.

Just looking at the whole area of things really, light can do some wonderful things and digital technology isn't quite there yet in terms of recreating it, the way light splits, lens flares, aberrations, rainbows, we as human beings find them beautiful for whatever reason.

Also things like simulating a huge depth of field and motionblur just seems to make images more natural and attractive, supposedly because the human eye has such a large depth of field but we normally don't notice it as whatever we are looking directly at, is always in sharp focus.

Looking at recreating the look of viewing thru someones eyes or via a hand held camera, and found this tool for C4D:

Link: --- buy

Also of note is Cinemas Architectural Bundle that includes some walkthru tools that can be recorded allowing you to freely walk around your model with the keyboard and mouse just like a FPS game.

Theres also CSTools MoCam which is free!

Link: --- cstools-faq

Real Super 8 footage:


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Tags: - C4D - Vray - AfterEffects
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Here I will be collecting information on Particle and Volumetric rendering, for other advanced type of rendering I have another post to track that, here I will specialize in the volumetric end.

-- Examples --

Realworld example, This looks like what I've been trying to create with particles, someone beat me to it with real glass!

Link: --- set-72057594061844447

I've done a bunch of work on volumetric/particle rendering.

Link: --- Painting with Light

-- Tools --


PC only, FREE, similar to Maxwell in It's goals.. It's also slow
Here It's rendering what appears like volumetric effect using SSS, which is an interesting idea as they are essentially the same thing when your computing it accurately:

Vray and Vray4C4D



Vray is brilliant and my rendering engine of choice right now, but It can't yet do accurate dispersion, aberration or volumetrics
I think It's DOF and motion blur are fairly accurate (some things missing for C4D right now), and it can simulate bokeh
Volumetric rendering isn't added yet, but It's coming eventually if these examples are anything to go by:


Fast/realtime particle gizmo for AfterEffects

I knocked up the above image in a few minutes playing with it, very nice, but I have a feeling it will produce images that were obviously done using the plugin, you'll soon have a trapcode form look.


Highly regarded program for all kinds of effects, full fledged software suite for Mac and PC


Maya fluids, a quick test of mine, It's a 2D slice but it can (if your patient) to full volumetric 3D fluids too:


Voxel engine for Lightwave, Windows only right now but he says a mac version is coming.

Some effects guy who has made a setup for Maya to render particle effects using Maya fluids / voxel dealy


Krakatoa : Optimized Particle renderer for 3DS Max

Link: --- work_in_progress_gallery

Lightwave has a built in voxel renderer or some sort called hypervoxels. Though finding any information or examples on it isn't as easy as it should be.

Show comments for 'Particle and Volumetric Rendering - Tools and Examples'
Tags: - C4D - Vray - AfterEffects
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Been waiting for this, Trapcode Form plugin for AfterEffects

I knocked up the above image in a few minutes playing with it, very nice, but I have a feeling it will produce images that were obviously done using the plugin, you'll soon have a trapcode form look.
And some more of my quick tests:

Very fire like.. yet not fire

Just wondering if I can achieve similar things within Cinema 4D, which would then have much more power, but be slower to render

Done with Trapcode Form

The following are all from Cinema4D:

The same principles apply for the accumulation of HUE, shifting from red thru orange to yellow depending on the density

A bit coarse. Done with lots of transparent cubes. Deformed by a noise shader.

Same as above but further deformed by a spherical deformer.

Problem is, that seems to be the hard coded maximum number of objects you can clone.... shit!

Max matrix size is 50,000...... lame! I need millions!

So uhm.. that essentially makes it useless

I tried using plane to place objects on and sure enough I can place more than 50,000 clones but it crashed


also that's then limited to only polygonal objects and cannot generate thinking particles (for no good reason)

So some kind of internal problem going on there, 50,000 polygons easy peasy, 50,000 1 polygon objects.... forget it

Had an epiphany! use visiible lights instead should be super fast...
You can make a light emit no light and cast no shadow, yet still be made visible. Which basically just draws a circular gradient around each light:

Loooks ace, sadly took 13 minutes to render :-S so much for being fast, I guess It's calculating it volumetrically
which seems very expensive way of basically putting a gradient round a light.

So the only way I can go above 50,000 involves using lights and they happen to be by far the slowest method,
which is not better if the render never actually finishes.

I've tried using Hair on splines, but you can't effect the color via mograph effectors.. why not maxon!?

I've tried cellrendering/sketch and toon

Less lights = 33 seconds

2 Minutes 24

18 Minutes

2 Minutes! that's faster!

2 Minutes

1 Minute using
cluster.. not bad


Sadly this method doesn't seem to work with deformers because it uses thinking particles
and there no way to change the color with a mograph effector... why not Maxon!!

download my example file from:

Link: ---

This uses pyrocluster so It's nice and fast and smooth.

25 Minute Render, no idea WHY it took that long and after all that it was incorrect, It's not meant to be stripey

So frustrating, this could be such a powerful technique if it wasn't so slow.
You could use this for all sorts, generating volumetric trails from moving objects for example.

The future is volumetric baby! voxels rule! polygons suck! sub-poly-displacement can only take you so far.

36 Minutes 90,000 particles rendered with pyrocluster

I wrote my own Xpresso in order to get past the 50,000 limit of mographs matrix object.

Trying to render this many items using visible lights well... It's painfull, it just runs out of RAM almost immediately. And I\'m not short on RAM either.

8 Minutes 44,000 Particles, fairly uninteresting result. *thinks*

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Tags: - C4D - AfterEffects
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Not my idea, but a Client wants a X-factor style award sequence, and when I say 'style' I mean parody of, started around the 2nd of December

Short Award Sequence

Full Intro Sequence:

And here are some stills from the final:

And some Work in progress shots below:

With the help of some NASA Blue Marble images, I\'m creating the Earth

Some older stills:

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