Hristo Enchev 171005
What will this lecture cover
The difference between the types of lighting modes
The difference between the types shadows
How does Global Illumination and Lightmass work, and what contributes to them
What else contributes to lighting: Post Process and Fog
Light manipulation via materials - light functions, lightmass replace, volume particles etc
Unreal Engine Docs link
Lightmass - The system which creates baked lightmaps. It computes complex light interactions like area shadowing diffuse interreflection, and indirect lighting contribution.
Global Illumination, GI for short - A system that models how light is bounced off of surfaces onto other surfaces (indirect light)
Mesh Distance Fields - Unreal’s version of Signed Distance Fields (SDF) that represent Static Meshes. They work by storing the distance to the nearest surface in a volume texture.
Static - Fully baked, which means that the light cannot be changed in game. This is the fastest method for rendering.
Stationary - Partially baked lighting which means static geometry baked by Lightmass and all other lighting will be dynamic. This setting also allows for the light to change color and intensity in game, as well as contribute to GI but, it does not move
Moveable - Dynamic lighting which means the light is totally dynamic and allows for dynamic shadows. This is the slowest in terms of rendering but allows for the most flexibility during gameplay.
Emissive* - The contribution emissive materials bring to GI when Lightmass is baked
The Directional Light simulates light that is being emitted from a source that is infinitely far away. This means that all shadows cast by this light will be parallel.
Point Lights work much like a real world light bulb, emitting light equally in all directions from just a single point in space.
A Spot Lights emit light from a single point in a cone shape.
The Rect Lights (aka Area Lights) emit light into the scene from a rectangular plane with a defined width and height.
The Sky Light captures the distant parts of your level and applies that to the scene as a light. That means the sky’s appearance and its lighting/reflections will match, even if your sky is coming from atmosphere, layered clouds, skybox, etc.
Hold Ctrl+L to move the directional light in your scene even if you don't have it in view/selected.
This light greatly influences GI
Enable Atmospheric/Fog Sun Light to allow it to influence
Atmospheric/Env Height Fog and to be able to access the
Light vector in any material.
By default the directional light uses cascaded shadow
Maps, they have a limited range of 20k uu, consider using
Distance Field Shadows to extend that to 100k if your
world is big
You can force baked shadows on movable objects thanks to the Volumetric Lightmaps
A single point light is roughly 6 times more computationally expensive than a spot light, think of it as a camera, in order to see 360 degrees, you need 6 lenses.
Only use a dynamic or stationary point light, if you can't achieve your desired effects with a spot light.
Holding L and clicking anywhere in the editor viewport will spawn a point light in that world location.
Relatively 6 times cheaper than a point light
Volumetrics and light functions look best on it
Within the Inner Cone Angle, the light achieves full brightness.
while between Inner to Outer Cone Angle, a falloff takes place.
Within the Inner Cone Angle, the light achieves full brightness. While with Outer Cone Angle, a falloff takes place.
Useful for televisions or monitor screens, overhead lighting fixtures etc.
If you set your Rect Light to Stationary, you may be able to achieve better quality shadows by also enabling the Use Area Shadows for Stationary Light setting.
More Rect Lights
If your Rect Light is set to Static or Stationary, Lightmass takes the width and height of the light into account when it computes the illumination cast from the light source.
If your Rect Light is set to Movable, the width and height of the rectangle are only used for specular reflections. The actual light is emitted outward from the center of the Rect Light, similar to a Point Light
Sky light requires scene data to work, so it needs either a cubemap or to capture the scene itself.
Directionality from cubemaps is possible, and it works on both Sky Lights and volumetric fog
Static Sky Lights capture automatically when building lighting. But for
Stationary or Movable updates happen once on load and when Recapture Sky is called.
Sky Lights contribute greatly to GI and supports multiple bounces
Only the emissive contribution of Materials can be captured with a Static Sky Light
Sky Lights - Distance Field Ambient Occlusion
Sky lights use Distance Field Ambient Occlusion to calculate shadows and occluded areas when dynamic. This is disabled by default, hence you need to enable Mesh Distance Fields in your project to make use of DFAO
DFAO works best with uniformly scaled objects, and will loose detail on small and highly detailed objects
The global Mesh Distance fields are used for DFAO on all objects except ones close to the camera
You can visualize Distance Fields via
Show > Visualize > Mesh Distance Fields
Look up Bent Normals in the docs and their contribution if you want to use this approach
Material Light Functions
Works only on Stationary and Movable lights
In essence it is a Material that can be applied to filter a light's intensity
It cannot change the color of lights using a Light Function, only the Light Color setting can do that
The caustics are done via light functions on spotlights
This illustrates a usage of LF, but doesn't necessarily mean caustics should be built using them for a game
Simple Light Flicker in a LF
Illuminating Engineering Society profiles are a lighting industry standard method of diagramming the brightness and falloff of light as it exits a particular real world light fixture.
Significantly cheaper than Light Functions and physically accurate
Do not use IES where spotlight cone angles could create the same effect.
They are not an actual texture
You can download profiles from most official sites of light manufacturers
Geographically Accurate Sun 4.24+
The Sun Position Calculator plugin gives you fine control over the Sun's position based on a geographic location and date in time
When adding a SunSky Actor to your scene, it's best to remove any Directional Light, Sky Light, or SkyAtmosphere actors already present
The project setting for Extend default luminance range in Auto Exposure settings is required for this SunSky Actor to display correctly without editing its properties.
HDRI Backdrop lighting actor
Geared towards product visualization
This actor allows you to easily get
Background mesh (such as a sky dome or custom geometry)
Ambient lighting from a Dynamic Sky Light
Ground projection with shadow catching
With Movable(dynamic) lights the performance cost comes primarily from the number of meshes affected by the light, and the triangle count of those meshes. This means that a shadow-casting, movable light with a large radius will cost many times more than a movable light with a small radius.
Be careful when using multiple directional lights as they can quickly eat up performance due increased triangle count from dynamic shadows
Unreal already drastically increases lighting performance by caching. Meaning when a point or spot light is not moving, the shadow map for that light is stored to be reused it next frame. This makes shadow casting movable Point and Spotlights much more affordable in games where the environment is often not moving.
You can customize Unreal’s engine scalability by manually adding certain lighting features to be enabled and disabled on various quality settings
If your project uses fully dynamic lighting, unchecking "Allow Static Lighting" in project settings allows you use AO in Materials for surfaces lit by a Movable Skylight and it reduces pixel and texture overhead in most materials since they no longer need to sample static lighting textures.
Shadows and their relation to mobility
Static Shadows - Shadows calculated for static geometry via LightMass and pre-baked. They have minimal cost at runtime, biggest one being memory, which is the _BuildData file for every level
Stationary Light Shadows - A baked/runtime hybrid model which blends shadow approaches. This enables you to use the benefits from both approaches by casting dynamic shadows only on Movable objects
Directional Light Cascading Shadow Maps - Whole scene shadows in conjunction with static ones. Faded over distance via Dynamic Shadow Distance StationaryLight
Dynamic Shadows - Cast by Movable lights, nothing is baked. And it works on Static Meshes, Skeletal Meshes, effects, etc… regardless of their mobility
Static vs Stationary Directional light
Shadows and their relation to mobility
Each movable object creates two dynamic shadows from a stationary light:
a shadow to handle the static world casting onto the object, and one to handle the object casting onto the world. This means the cost can vary from very little to a large amount, depending on how many dynamic objects there are. With enough dynamic objects, it is more efficient to use a Movable light instead.
Dynamic shadows on use the ob