Quick, Easy, Convenient!
As a VFX artist, time is always my biggest concern. Having to render and re-render trying to get passes for my objects is a nightmare, costing precious time and resources on what should be simple. I just wanted to be able to set up my scenes, press render, and let Blender take care of the rest for me; Now I can! This addon was created in collaboration with John Roper to remove the headache from my workflow, and now I'm sharing it with the community!
This addon automatically outputs the Object, Shadow, Reflection and AO passes from your render, organising them into convenient folders. This works perfectly for single frames, and even whole animations, allowing you to drag these image sequences straight into your compositing software of choice (such as After Effects) and work with them as clips. No render layers and exclusions, no multiple renders of the same scene, no having to create folders, no hassel... just setup your scene, and the addon does the rest for you! This addon is designed for time and convenience, so you can focus on what you do best- creating art! And, because it does everything efficiently in a single pass, this addon can reduce render times particularly for animations!*
Environment Shadow Passes!
The standard "Shadow Pass" output for Blender only gives you the shadows cast by lamps within your scene. It doesn't, however, give you any of the shadows cast by HDR environment maps! I use HDR maps for all my projects; they add natural lighting and reflections to your scene which instantly improve the overall quality and realism of your renders. This addon takes care of that issue; it captures the shadows cast by both the Environment maps and the Lamps in your scene!
Whether you're creating a 3D tracked VFX shot, or you're just trying to show off your latest model; compositing into a real background can help sell your model's realism, and take the presentation to the next level. Now, with this addon, compositing is quicker and easier than ever. Within a few button presses you have everything you need to composite onto a background using your software of choice!
- The 'Easy Model Compositing' Addon
- My 'Titan Space Hauler' model
- My original PBR material node!
- The background image + HDR map by Greg Zaal used in the demo video
- A transcript of the demo video, for those who follow text easier than video
*compared to other methods
As of 2.79, Blender will now finally include a proper "Shadow Catcher" option for objects in Cycles, which will immediately turn them into a transparent object with alpha that functions solely to display shadows. That new feature will make this solution functionally obsolescent. This solution will still function, and will still serve it's purpose insofar as it will automatically create organised folders for all your passes including AO and in particular reflection passes which there currently isn't a "Reflection Catcher" for. These organised folders do make it easier to quickly drop your passes into a compositing software as image sequences when doing animations. However, the built in Shadow Catcher function will, by virtue of being a feature directly integrated into Cycles, be inherently better for the purpose of quick composition directly inside Blender.
I want to thank everyone who has bought this product and supported me, and I hope it has been useful and continues to be useful for things like getting reflection passes, however I am personally going to cease development on this add-on as the primary reason I developed it originally was as a part of my own VFX workflow trying to create a simple solution for a feature Blender had been lacking for a long time. Blender will, as of 2.79, no longer be lacking that feature, so there really is no more need to try and bodge together a solution to a non-existent problem.
If you would like to test the new Shadow Catcher feature in Blender before the release of 2.79, you can go to Blender.org right now, go to the downloads page, and at the very bottom follow the link for the "Bleeding Edge" daily builds. The latest daily builds include the shadow catcher option, it's an object setting. Under the object properties, Cycles settings, you can toggle "Shadow Catcher". There's plenty of publications showing off how to do this if you need a tutorial.
- Added "Reflection" output pass, for compositing into scenes with glossy ground surfaces
- Updated the PBR Material node to V1.2, which includes the improved Fresnel, IOR, roughness controls, and addition of heightmaps
- Updated the PBR Material node to V1.6, which includes the improved Fresnel, glass emulation, IOR tweaks, faked caustics, anisotropic metals, and improved normal maps
- Better normalising of lighting for the shadow pass output, to reduce the amount of contrast adjustment needed during compositing
- Outputs have been tweaked to correctly reflect alpha objects in your scene- specifically in the prior version use of the 'Holdout' shader for certain custom FX produced incorrect results. You should now find that objects using the Holdout shader correctly punch out your renders
- Quick fix for an issue that inverted the shadow pass
Included free in the Blender file is my original PBR material node, and my Titan Space Hauler mesh.
In order to install the addon, you go to File -> User Preferences -> Addons, and click "Install from File". Then, we'll navigate to the product directory, and inside we'll find the "easy_model_compositing_v1.0" zip. We don't need to unpack this file, just click the zip, and click "install". Then, scroll up and make sure to turn on the addon with the checkbox, and save your preferences.
**Special Note: In order to correctly capture shadows, the ground plane must have a material which has a Diffuse BSDF shader node in it; recommended is to use the include PBR material node.**
Sometimes a shadow pass will turn out noisy, with the ground plane visibly grey. This happens more often when using only environment lighting or when using very soft lamps. If this happens, just boost the contrast in your compositing software using RGB curves or a contrast filter. For example:
"Failed" shadow pass
Shadow pass cleaned in 5 seconds by boosting contrast
Due to the nature of the way that Cycles renders with raytraces and the Diffuse shader, currently this addon only really works for horizontal ground planes... more complex and vertical shadow catching geometry tends to self-shadow which muddies the final result.
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