Gaffer - Light Manager

by Greg Zaal in Scripts and Addons

As a professional lighting artist and hobbyist coder, I created this add-on to help me with my every day work. Not only did it speed up my lighting workflow, but it meant I had more time to create better lighting.

Gaffer is a Blender add-on that helps you light your scenes by presenting you with all the lamp settings you need to tweak in one simple panel.

"Lighting in Blender has never been this intuitive. The (Gaffer) addon is your digital assistant when it comes to giving life to your scenes. A hassle-free tool and a must-have!" - Reynante Martinez

Simple Interface

The UI has been designed to be easy to use at a glance, while still allowing you full control of the most common lamp settings. It'll only show you settings relevant to each individual light, and adjust what is displayed as you turn things on and off. This means that instead of just a color, you can control the black-body temperature, wavelength or even an image right from the Gaffer panel.

You can view only the very basic controls such as strength, color and visibility (which is linked to render-visibility as well), or you can expand each light to show more controls like size, diffuse/specular influence, Multiple Importance Sampling and more.

But Gaffer isn't just a little collection of things you can already do, it includes tools that will speed up your workflow and help you focus on the task at hand. Like the Solo button next to each light: you can temporarily hide all other lights except that one to see exactly what it's doing, and when you're done, Gaffer will remember your previous arrangement of light visibility and restore it.

"Gaffer is a must-have tool for anyone serious about lighting in Blender. It's comprehensive, automatic, and intelligent in it's functionality. With the time saved by not having to hunt around in the Outliner and Properties panels, it easily pays for itself in one lighting session." - Matthew Heimlich

Dynamic Node Adjustments

Gaffer includes controls for things you could usually only do in the node editor, such as changing the lamp falloff. A drop-down menu is provided for each light that allows you to switch between Quadratic, Linear and Constant falloff, which will create or adjust the appropriate nodes for you automatically.

In the common case that your light has a more complicated node setup, you can simply tell Gaffer which node value you want to display in the panel for the Strength adjustment.

For Cycles and Blender Render

Cycles is great, but there's little substitute for the good old-fashioned control we get from Blender's internal renderer. Many productions still use the old render engine because of the speed and infinite control of non-GI lighting, so it's only fitting that Gaffer can be used there as well.

Free Updates, Forever

I'm a lighting artist myself, which means that I'm constantly adding new features and improving this add-on for myself as well as for you. So once you purchase Gaffer, you'll be able to download every consecutive update without ever taking your wallet out again.

Plans for the near future include new light types, such as portal and IES lights, light rigs, conversion between Mesh lights and Area lights, more Image-based lighting controls and shared light settings.   For a detailed list of features, see the Documentation.  

Change Log

v2.6 (2016/12/22)

Note: To install this version you must first remove the old one.

Gaffer now notifies you when an update is available (can be turned off in user-prefs).

Minor improvements to the handling of lights with multi-user data:

  • When labels are shown, the name of the data is shown too so you can easily recognize which lights share the same data.
  • The name of the data (or material in the case of mesh lights) is shown in the light panel instead of just one of the object names. Clicking on the name will let you rename the data/material.

Lights with single-user data are not affected.

The add-on is also now split into multiple files instead of a single file. This is both for organizational purposes and to allow the auto-updating feature to work.

v2.5 (2016/04/20)

Support for Blender 2.77 (fix viewport update issues)

v2.4 (2015/10/06)

  • Renaming a light from the panel will no longer require a manual refresh.
  • Added support for portal lamps

v2.3 (2015/01/23)

Objects in the Blacklist are no longer affected by Soloing.

v2.2 (2014/10/26)

Fix a crash (or a bunch of errors) when deleting a lamp while showing the radius visualization.

v2.1 (2014/10/24)

Just a few minor improvements:

  • When selecting/hiding/showing/soloing a light with multi-user data, the other objects which share that data are selected/hidden/shown/solo'd as well.
  • Refreshing the light list will also refresh the 3D View visualizations.

v2.0 (2014/10/19)

This version adds several new tools to help you aim, visualize and manage your lights. Aiming:

  • Aim selected lights at 3D cursor
  • Aim selected lights at active object
  • Aim the active object at the average location of selected objects

View-port Visualization:

  • Display the radius of lights in the 3D View
  • Display a colored label in the 3D View with the light name

Add objects to a Blacklist to prevent them from showing up in the light list or 3D View visualizations. Link the vector of a sky texture to the rotation of a lamp - this can be used to make sure the appearance of the sky matches the direction of the sun correctly. Minor Improvements:

  • If multiple lights use the same lamp data (or material), only one of the lamps is shown in the list. A small label tells you how many users of that data there are.
  • Added a small gap between lights in the light list to help visual separation.
  • Added a button at the top to exit Solo Mode.
  • Hiding the world light (or enabling Reflection Only) now uses the new Volume Scatter ray visibility.
  • [Bug] Selecting a light from the Gaffer panel while in Edit Mode would force you to be stuck in some impossible limbo mode.
  • [Bug] Changing the render engine would sometimes show some errors.

 

Installation

Download the .zip file, but do not extract it.

  1. Open Blender's User Preferences (from the File menu or using Ctrl+Alt+U)
  2. In the Addons tab, click the Install from File button at the bottom and select the .zip file you already downloaded.
  3. You should now see the Gaffer add-on, so simply check the box to the right of the add-on name. If you don't see the Gaffer add-on, you already had it installed - just search for it's name and it'll show up.
  4. To make sure the add-on stays enabled the next time you run Blender, click the Save User Settings button at the bottom left

Updating

As of v2.6, Gaffer should automatically check for updates and allow you to download and install the latest version right from within Blender.

If you have version 2.5 or older, you need to first remove the old version before installing the new one. You can download the latest version from your account page.

Features

General

  • Refresh Light List - Whenever you add a new light, delete an old one, or rename any of them, you’ll need to refresh the list of lights. The reason this is not done automatically is because it would slow down your scene quite a bit. I am looking for better ways to handle this in the future, so stay tuned.
  • Visible Lights Only - Only show lights that are not hidden
  • Visible Layers Only - Only show lights that are on a layer that is currently showing.
  • Show all Advanced - Expand the panels of all lights to show some extra settings

Each Light

  • Show Advanced - Expand this light to show some extra less common settings
  • Lamp name - The name of the lamp (changing this will require a Refresh)
  • Users (Shown for lights that have data with multiple users) - The number of other objects which share the same data/material as this light.
  • Visibility - Hide the light from both the viewport and the render with this toggle.
  • Select - Select only this light and make it the active object.
  • Solo - Temporarily hide all other lights, allowing you to see the effect of this light alone. While in Solo mode, you can show other lights one at a time as well. When you exit Solo mode, your previous arrangement of light visibility will be restored.
  • Type - An icon showing the type of this light (Eg. area, sun, mesh…). Click this icon to change the type.
  • Strength - A slider for the power or intensity of the light.
    • Node Editor: Set as Gaffer Strength (Cycles only) - Allows you to choose a specific node (such as a Light Falloff or Math node) to use for the Strength slider in the Gaffer panel. The first unconnected Value input socket will be chosen.
  • Color - The color of the light, which can be the unconnected Emission shader color, or Blackbody Temperature, Wavelength, Image or RGB node if they are connected to the shader.
    • Temperature Preset (Cycles only) - Displayed when a Blackbody node is connected to the Emission shader of this light. This is a list of presets you can apply (such as Tungsten, Daylight, Sky, etc.) for physically accurate colors.
  • Size - The Virtual size of the lamp, determining the softness of the shadow and the falloff of the light across and around surfaces.
  • Samples (Cycles Branched Path Tracing, or Blender Render) - The number of iterations to calculate the shadow of the light, to reduce the noise it introduces.
  • Shadow Method (Blender Render only) - Choose between No Shadow, Buffer Shadow and Ray Traced Shadows.
  • MIS (Cycles only) - Toggle Multiple Importance Sampling for this light.
  • Shadow (Cycles only) - Choose whether or not the light casts shadows.
  • Diff - Allow the light to influence diffuse shaders
  • Spec - Allow the light to influence glossy shaders (or the specular calculation in Blender Render)
  • Cam (Cycles only, on mesh lights) - Allow the mesh itself to be seen in the render, or to be invisible.
  • Spot Size (Spot lamps) - The angle of the spot lamp’s influence
  • Blend (Spot lamps) - The softness of the edge of the spot lamp’s influence
  • Falloff (Cycles or Blender Render Point/Spot light) - The rate at which the light loses intensity over distance.

World

  • Visibility (Cycles only) - Don’t show the world light in the render. This works by disabling all the ray influences of the world*
  • Solo - Hide all other lights except the world. While in Solo mode, you can show other lights one at a time as well. When you exit Solo mode, your previous arrangement of light visibility will be restored.
  • Strength - A slider for the power or intensity of the world light. Unlike other lights, the node socket used for the world’s strength value is determined automatically.
  • Color - The color of the world’s Background shader. If an Image or Environment texture is connected somewhere in the chain, this is shown instead. Otherwise the first unconnected color socket of the leftmost node in the chain is shown. For Blender Render, if Blend Sky is enabled the Zenith color is shown here as well.
  • Blend Sky (Blender Render only) - Make the background color a gradient from the horizon to the zenith.
  • Paper (if Blend Sky is enabled) - Ensure the gradient is in camera-space, making it unaffected by perspective or camera angle.
  • Real (if Blend Sky is enabled) - Render the background with a real horizon, affected by camera angle.
  • MIS (Cycles only) - Calculate which areas of the background image emit the most light and sample these areas more often. Gives a large improvement on the amount of noise, but uses more memory. Not recommended for solid color backgrounds.
  • Refl Only (Cycles only)- Only show the world in glossy rays, do not use it for lighting
  • Ambient Occlusion - Enable AO
  • Factor (if AO is enabled)- How much AO influences the scene
  • Distance (if AO is enabled)- The distance within which objects give an occlusion effect
  • Environment Lighting (Blender Render only) - Enable Environment lighting
  • Energy (if Enviro Light is enabled)- The strength of the Environment Light
  • Gather Method (Blender Render only) - Choose whether the AO and Envrio Light is accurate and raytraced or faster but approximate.
  • Samples (Raytraced Gather) - The number of calculations to perform, determines the amount of noise.
  • Passes (Approximate Gather) - The number of preprocessing passes to reduce over-occlusion
  • Error Tolerance (Approximate Gather) - The allowed difference between the approximate result and the accurate result. Lower values are better quality, but render slower.
  • Correction (Approximate Gather) - A correction value for over-occlusion.
  • Link Sky Texture (Cycles) - Link the vector of the sky texture to the rotation of an object (such as a sun lamp) so that the sky appearance is correct for the angle of the sun.

*Note: For Cycles, due to the lack of an SSS ray visibility switch, the world light will always be visible in SSS materials, even when hidden. If you wish to have the world light completely hidden, set the strength to 0, or remove the nodes. I'll hopefully convince the developers to sort this limitation out for the next release.

Tools

The Tools panel consists of a number of features to help you aim, visualize and manage your lights. Aiming uses the negative Z-axis for lamps, and positive Z-axis for other objects:

  • Selection at 3D cursor - Rotate all selected objects so that they are aiming at the 3D cursor.
  • Selected at active - Rotate all selected objects (except the active object) to aim at the active object.
  • Active at selected - Rotate the active object to aim at the average location of all the other selected objects.

Visualization:

  • Radius - draw a circle around lamps in the 3D View using the lamps size as the circle radius.
    • Refresh - Some changes (such as deleting nodes) might not be detected automatically, this button forces the radius to be updated.
    • Alpha - The opacity of the drawn circle.
    • Draw Type - How the circle should look. See this reference for examples.
    • Use Color - Use the lamps color for the color of the circle. Otherwise use the Default Color. Supported nodes: wavelength, blackbody.
    • X-Ray - Draw the circle in front of all other objects.
    • Selected Only - Only show the radius for selected objects.
    • Default Color - If Use Color is disabled, or an unsupported node is connected, this color is used.
  • Label - show the lights name in the 3D View.
    • Refresh - Some changes (such as deleting nodes) might not be detected automatically, this button forces the label to be updated.
    • Alpha - The opacity of the drawn label.
    • Font Size - How large the text is.
    • Draw Type - Controls whether the text or the background is colored, or whether there is a background at all. See this reference for examples.
    • Use Color - Use the lamps color for the color of the label. Supported nodes: wavelength, blackbody.
    • Text Color / Background Color - One or both of these are displayed depending on the Draw Type and whether Use Color is enabled.
    • Alignment - Choose the position of the label relative to the position of the light. See this reference for examples.
    • Margin - The distance between the label and the light.

Blacklisting:

  • Objects in the Blacklist will not:
    • be shown in the light list.
    • display a radius circle.
    • display a label.
  • Add - Add all selected objects to the blacklist.
  • Remove - Remove the chosen item from the blacklist.

Support

If you have any trouble with Gaffer, such as a bug or a feature suggestion, just head over to your inbox on this site and send me a message :)

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Item Rating

This item has an average rating of 5 from 2 ratings by the community.

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  • B090d06ad475aebe19c851ee7df4e753

    Diego Gangl 2 months ago

    Awesome addon. Over the years Gaffer has become a big part of my workflow in Blender. Besides managing complicated light setups, it makes a lot of settings like light falloff more accesible. The blackbody presets are also a great time saver when working on realistic scenes.
  • Large

    tcwik about 2 months ago

    A nice addon.

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