As an intermediate level surface modeller I found this book extremely helpful. Among its numerous plus points are that it is not application dependant, it explains theory in lucid plain English and it is one of the few instruction books which does not resort to the use of 'filler' information which is self evident, of marginal relevance, or easily available on the web.
There wasn't a chapter in which I did not learn something new. The stellar chapter for me was on architectural lighting - how to get a 3d scene (indoors or outdoors) looking 'real' rather than a lit model. For character modellers there's the basic information about 3 point lighting and theory beyond that.
The book is very well illustrated and the author and production team have been at pains to ensure that the quality of the illustrations is such that subtle colour changes in before and after shots are apparent.
I am not sure about 3d experts, but I would definitely recommend this book for beginner to intermediate level as the 'lighting bible'. Lighting makes or breaks a render and this is the best book I have found which explains the theory in an clear methodical way.
Whilst I've read through this once and as a relative beginner I know there is a lot to learn. This book is a great start for anyone serious about developing their CGI skills and I can see it getting lots of use as both a reference and study aid. It covers all the main topics in reasonable depth and plenty of examples without getting too bogged down with specific software. On a practical point the soft back version allows it to be laid flat and to stay open on the page without breaking the spine. There are lots of colour photographs to illustrate many of the topics and frequent tips on how professionals 'cheat' to get the desired results. All in all a well organised, detailed and comprehensive reference for anyone who wants to get under the skin of 3D lighting and rendering
This book is great for anyone who has an interest in animation/film/gaming. Being an animation student myself this is just so useful for understanding colour, camera and composition among many other things. However you will need a basic understanding of a 3D software such as Maya for a fair share of the book. I was a little disappointed there were no tutorials, focusing more on explaining the uses of the tools in 3D software, but it does include exercises to practice what it teaches, and overall a book that is very useful for upping your knowledge and skills for creating 3D content.
I have been using ( the word 'reading' would not do this book justice) along with my rendering software Kerkythea for two days now and I have to say that this book will be my constant companion. The book has done more for me to be able to produce photorealistic renderings in two days than my previous two months of attempting to learn a rendering package on my own. The explanations are clear and concise, the topics flow easily from one to the next and topics cover both 3D single frame renderings and full animation rendering. Easily the best book I have bought on 3D this year.
This book could be a guide for setting-up a scene, or theatrical lighting, or photo lighting guide easily. For me, it was quite good, but it lacks information on doing really realistic renderings, and it should be complemented with some serious book about the rendering engine that you're using.
I'm a keen amateur 3D artist who is gradually learning the craft of 3D. I've got to the point where I needed a better grounding in the key areas of lighting, texturing and modelling.
Jeremy Birn's book is a mine of useful information and professional expertise. It is very easy to read, and indepth, and manages to convey complex technical information without being confusing or overwhelming. It is interesting to read, and easy to digest.
You do get the sense that he knows the 3D industry well and is writing from great experience, not just by the depth of information, but by the scope of topics he addresses that go beyond the creation of art, and covers how you might use these skills in a professional environment. I even found these bits helpful e.g. don't light your scene until most of the modelling is pretty settled - saved me lots of time!
It also manages to do so in a way which applies to different 3D packages, so you are not penalised by not owning 3DS Max or Maya or whatever.
There is a nugget on every page - I read a bit, and then try to use it in a project, and I have learned so much already.
Three criticisms that rob it of the 5th star: 1) It is slightly short on illustrations perhaps, especially for a book which is all about visual art, but this doesn't seem to detract from the book's overall impact. 2) Not quite enough thought has gone into the practical examples and exercises at the end of each chapter - they are quite brief. But then you can always create projects to test things out in your own software package. 3) A CDROM with some examples and projects would have been welcome e.g. load up one of the scenes in the book (provided in 3DS format perhaps, so as to be package independent), texture it, and practice different lighting rigs, or try to reproduce the book's illustrations.
I guess pros could learn a lot from this book, but so will keen amateurs who are not going to make a living from it but want to excel in their art nonetheless.
I've tried to apply some of this in my own art, some of which can be seen on www://craftycurate.blogs.com