Lightmaps vs Dynamics

I’ve been playing this argument back and forth for a while. On one hand you have the baked shadow/light maps that always look good, or perfect, because they bake on very realistic lighting. Unfortunately, if you have anything dynamic in the scene, the shadowmaps won’t portray the movement of the objects, or their existence on that plane. Thoughts?

You can always use lightmaps and use the shadow only option on the lights, i recall somebody using this method.

My personal problem with lightmaps is… for example a gun you hold in an FPS has to correspond to the environment of the player and is quite hard to fake without using lights so your going to end up using lights anyways.

its a tough decision but each of them have there advantages and disadvantages.


Well I think you can accomplish the proper lighting on something like the gun with a few tricks. The only problem, is if you set the light to shadows only, it doesn’t make any distinction between the shadow areas and not, so you’ll get a shadow within a shadow, which doesn’t happen.

Yeh, this is why its nicer to just bake Ambient Occlusion maps. They are dynamic, and make objects look a lot more realistic.

Ambient occlusion maps aren’t dynamic. You need ssao for that.

I beg to dissagree on that one. Its why DICE and CryTek do it.

Ambient Occlusion maps look way better than any SSAO because the quality is image dependant.
Using both in combination of each other can look even nicer but you have to weigh performance to quality.

Because its a multiply Layer it works with any Texture lighting combination.

Just make sure you bake on its own layer alone.

in combination with Spec, Normal, Detail maps and dynamic shadows i can’t find better looking results.

This video was done in blender around 2 yrs ago. And a piss poor attempt at a prototype.
The performance of maps over SSAO is dramatic.

I’m not saying its the Best/Only way, but used in combination with other methods it cant be faulted.

This is a more recent example of what you can achieve with no textures but the built in UV map, AO baking and lights.

Edit: linking Blend For water Physics Test. WaterPhysics.blend (839 KB)


This also uses the same methods, Anyways i’ve said enough but i’ve made my point.

I still don’t get what you’re trying to say. Ao maps are baked. Once you bake them, that’s the way they are and won’t dynamically change. That’s why ssao exists, to have dynamic ao.

This thread has reached its end. You asked for ideas and solutions you got them.

AO maps are dynamic because they can be used in any context or situation, just because they aren’t calculated every frame doesn’t mean they aren’t dynamic unlike Light-mapping. Speaking about Models.


and just so you know you can have shadows within shadows, 1 shadow per light source so Shadow only would work. That’s what happens in real life.

Edit: there is never a 100% accurate solution, just go with what looks best visually, it is a game after all and with that you will always be limited, Rendering engines can promise they can calculate GI lighting every frame but this not true, the maps are just generated every few frames.

Typically dynamic means that the feature adapts to its environment, lighting etc. But you are correct, you can use multiply to adapt to the lighting conditions through ​the material pipeline.

Yeah. Exactly what agoose said. Regardless of our misunderstood argument, I think I might just stick with dynamic lights and the ol’ ao maps, and a few other minor light maps to just give it a boost. I found that variance buffering is awesome.

Yeh man, Your not the only one that has suffered through this decision, development of my project stopped for around 6 months in 2010 because i couldn’t decide between the 2. The wonderful thing about blender is multiple uv channels and the rendering baking options.

I’m sure as time passes you will pick up more tricks in realism, its what turns pro’s into masters.

Good luck on whatever method you choose btw.