Lighting a 3d scene with panoramic HDR imagery has revolutionized computer graphics.

Highslide JS
XYZRGB Dragon Scan, Left: optimized setup with blurred HDRI as environment light
Right: sampling noise due to brute forcing a high-res HDRI through Monte Carlo Radiosity.
Never before has it been so easy to replicate real lighting situations. Every o-the shelf 3d software nowadays includes a Global Illumination (GI) render engine that can be fueled with HDRIs to create photorealistic renderings.

However, a common pitfall is that GI takes longer to render, especially when using high-res HDRIs. It takes ridiculously high quality settings to get rid of sampling noise or flickering. That's why, in practice it’s much more ecient to use a blurred low-res image for diuse lighting, and a high-res image for reflections only.

Another common problem is the sun. It's just too bright, which makes it notoriously hard to capture. It's even harder to render with, because it causes the worst render artifacts. Much more convenient is a regular 3d directional light, allowing more control over intensity and shadow. Such advanced lighting rigs result in better renderings in less render time, but they can be a pain to set up. Aside from preprocessing the HDR images the right way, you have to pull a dozen hidden levers in a 3d application to make it work. Even if you know exactly how to set up an advanced IBL rig, it becomes tedious and repetitive work.

Clean renders, fast and easy.

Smart IBL takes the fuzz out of it. It puts optimized IBL setups on a single button again. On top of that, it represents a unified way of organizing your HDRI collection into ready-made lighting solutions.

Just pick a preset, and everything falls into place.

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Smart IBL is not a shader or render algorithm, it’s just an idea. It was designed as an open system, completely transparent to artists and developers - flexible enough to power an entire company pipeline, and portable enough to work in every 3d application. And most importantly, it's completely free.

Next: How it works