The Art of Lighting for Games
Help us spread the word!
Registration Starts On
TBA
Class Begins On
Fall | 2017
Boon Cotter
Lighting Artist
Boon Cotter was born in outback Australia. He discovered a passion for video games at a young age, in part to escape from the deadly wildlife. He programmed his first game at age 9, but honestly, it wasn't very good. Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004, his career began as a Character TD in TV and film, where he discovered his real passions lay in the art and science of light. In his most recent role, Boon relocated to California, where he has worked for the last 2 years as a Lighting Artist for Naughty Dog on the critically acclaimed "Uncharted 4", He says his favorite thing about the move, besides working on one of his all-time most beloved video game series, is that the spiders here don't eat people.

Course Description

Students will be given an intermediate introduction to the science, technology, and art of lighting. In the first half of the course, they will learn the fundamentals of how light works, how we simulate and emulate the physical characteristics of light in a digital environment, and how we can break all the rules for the sake of art. The second half of the course will demonstrate some different approaches to lighting various scenes for visual appeal, mood, story and gameplay. Boon's goal with this class is to offer a high level, anecdotal overview of his creative process, using examples from Uncharted 4 and his own private work, along with some professional tips and tricks for rapidly achieving good results that support the emotional and mechanical goals of game design.
 
Software Covered in this Class:

Maya, Unity, Unreal Engine 4

Course Outline

Wk1

The Lighting Trinity: Science

Photons & Physics

Diffuse Reflection

Bounce

Specular Reflections

Opacity / Transparency

Caustics

Translucency & Sub-surface Scattering

The Fresnel Effect

Index of Refraction

Roughness / Micro-faceted Materials

Unique Properties of Metals

Anisotropic Reflection

Quadratic Decay

Ambient Light / Global Illumination

Wk2

The Lighting Trinity: Technology Pt. 1 – Illumination

Overview of lighting technology “Illumination”

Common CGI Light Types in Real Time Applications

Sun / Dome lighting

Global Illumination

Ambient Occlusion

Wk3

The Lighting Trinity: Technology Pt. 2 – Materials

Overview of lighting technology “Material properties”

The relationship between light and materials

What is PBR?

Diffuse / Specular energy conservation

Surface roughness

Reflections, the Fresnel effect & Index of Refraction

Metals

Wk4

The Lighting Trinity: Art

Overview of describing mood with lighting

An anecdotal and conversational examination of the art of lighting in Uncharted 4

Wk5

Lighting for Gameplay

Discuss unique concerns about lighting for gameplay using examples from Uncharted 4

Lighting for mood

Lighting for story

Lighting for playability

The unique challenges of lighting indoor spaces

Wk6

Unity – Tools & Techniques Overview

Overview of lighting in Unity

Baked vs Dynamic lighting

Shadows

Materials

Discussion about performance & platform technical limitations

Wk7

Unreal – Tools & Techniques Overview Part 1

Overview of lighting in Unreal Engine 4

Baked vs Dynamic lighting

Shadows

Materials

Wk8

Unreal – Tools & Techniques Overview Part 2

Overview of lighting in Unreal Engine 4

Baked vs Dynamic lighting

Shadows

Materials

Wk9

Beyond Lighting | Part 1

Supplementing lighting look development with FX

  • Bloom
  • Fog
  • Particles

Gamma

Tonemapping & Exposure

The last 10%: Color Grading

Wk10

Beyond Lighting | Part 2

Supplementing lighting look development with FX

  • Bloom
  • Fog
  • Particles

Gamma

Tonemapping & Exposure

The last 10%: Color Grading

Careers

  • Architectural Previz
  • Game Environment Artists
  • Visual Effects Artists
  • Visual Development Artist
  • Concept Artist