realistic sunlight in space

I’m working on an animation of a number of ships in an asteroid field. I’ve done a number of test renders on single objects that looked quite good, imho, but when more than one are in the image, it becomes pretty obvious that the point light source is relatively close to the objects. Ideally, I’d like them all lit from identical angles relative to the camera. This doesn’t seem to be possible with a point light, and if I use radiosity, the shadows are soft, which you don’t want in space. I thought about linking each object to its own light, but then when one object goes behind another, the shadows are only half way to black, and the lit areas are lit doubly. Anyone have any suggestions?

oh, i dunno. let’s see, in space, the light is from stars, and stars are…

You can also try exclusive light groups (this is a function based on materials, not objects), the layer only option for each light, render layer based lighting, etc. See this post for how to create better lighting setups:

Be aware though that REAL light in space doesn’t always look great. The side of any object facing away from the sun is black! (Unless you have something else reflecting light back - Don’t go there!)

Have a play with different light types to get that dramatic shadow from your primary sun lamp, but not loosing the detail from the “Dark side” of the ships.

Don’t underestimate the dark side (Eww - did I really say that!)

Ammusionist is right. But if you want ships in asteroid field, you might try to add a weak spot lamp to each to simulate the light reflected of them. This will illuminate the dark side of ships and help to preserve some details in them.

rather than weak spots for ambient light created in the field, it would be more realistic to use ambient light. It would be more accurate to use Myn.pheos’s idea of a weak spot shining outward from the lit side of each individual asteroid. Or use Radiosity, because that’s what that does.

Agreed. If you make the lighting scientifically accurate, it will look unrealistic. :wink:
Watch some NASA footage of the Shuttle and the Space Station and you will see what I mean.