You've seen LightGen, maybe even LightMapGen or something alike. Making real 3d lights from a HDR images usually happens as an external preprocess, running fully automatic and spitting out a file to be imported in your 3d application. It's anything but intuitive. Lightbitch is different.

Create 3d light rigs from HDRIs

Lightbitch is a complete toolbox for light extraction. It's fully integrated as a Lightwave Plug-In and works interactively - no scripting or external processing is needed. Lightbitch can take care of sampling light color and intensity from the HDRI all by itself. Or you can manually pick samples and slide them across the HDRI, in a simple color picker fashion. It will update a list of lights in realtime, complete with coverage weighting and normalized to a global light intensity. Just drag the sample dots around and watch the numbers dance....

1. Intuitive Interface

Lightbitch features Exposure and Gamma controls, so you can have a better look at your HDR image. These are for display purpose only, the colors are always picked from the original HDR.
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Picking lights manually from HDRIs couldn't be more intuitive.
To give you a better idea of how closely the 3d lights resemble the original lighting, it sports a unique Lights display mode as well as an overlay grid of XYZ directions in panorama space.

Everything works just like you would expect:

  • LMB: select a light or set a new one
  • LMB + drag: move a light
  • RMB + drag: change coverage radius (multiplies intensity and used as spinning light radius)
  • Drag a light into the trashcan to delete it
  • Light picker always works with 3 by 3 pixel oversampling
  • Click the arrow icons to nudge a sample with pixel accuracy

2. Great automatic HDRI analysis

It doesn't look like anything special, but in fact, it is a world-class solver, fast enough to have results pop up immediately. No preparation is necessary, full resolution HDRs are fine. Just choose how many lights you want, and hit the button. That easy!

  • Lightbitch uses the industry-standard Median Cut algorithm by Paul Debevec.
  • Implementation runs on the LightMapGen engine by Jeremy Pronk, glued in with some additional patches from Sean O'Malley.

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Just follow the three steps: load an image, pick some lights, create a light rig.

3. Sophisticated light rigs

Each rig come with a custom light bulb icon, that regulates the master intensity of all lights. There is variety of different rigs to choose from, among them the popular spinning spotlight rig.
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Spinning light rig, with each light describing a circle during motion blur passes. (Timeline scaled for display purpose.)
It works hand in hand with Lightwave's Classic time-sliced motion blur, and smears each light along a circular area. That's a great way to get smoother shadow blending with less lights, and less rendertime. For example, a 5 pass motion blur makes these 32 lights appear as if there would be 160.

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4. Goes with your flow

LightBitch is also self-aware.
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Self-detection at the second launch.
When launched a second time it allows you to continue tweaking where you left it. That way you can iterate through a bunch of different light rigs very quickly.
By creating more than one rig, from different light probes, you could even remodel the spatial lighting distribution in a larger set.