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Nuke Shading and Lighting FX

This video was designed to guide the user through 2d and 3d lighting techniques inside of the Nuke compositing environment. Color correction, illustration, and 3d shaders are also EXTENSIVELY shown through out the video.

Length: 3 Hours 8 Minutes 6 Seconds

Price: $29.95

Nuke Shading and Lighting FX

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This video was created to help compositors learn how to manage the current 3D Shading and Lighting system inside of the Nuke Compositing application. Built by user request, many Nuke users realized that procedural shading networks inside of Nuke have the capabilities of 3D shading systems found in traditional 3D Animation packages. This video will teach you how to use them!

Chapter Descriptions

Setting up the Scene - Creating Night Time

A daytime still of a hangar will be utilized to start toning the image down to receive a night time version of the scene. To improve the look also add a layer with some lamps and lights that were missing in the daytime version.

3D Setup / Projection

Learn how to give the shot some dimensionality and project it onto a card in Nuke's 3D environment. Instead of deforming the card using the handles the instructor will show you how to displace it by using a simple Roto shape and a color correction.

Adding Geometry & Lights - Texturing & Shading the Model

Now that the 3D scene has been setup it will be necessary to import a 3D model of an aircraft. Is there a way to actually texture this model within Nuke? Using Nuke's shades the artist will give the plane a new appearance.


In order to make the shading work a light is needed. Add a light to the scene and the appearance of the texture changes. The texture now reacts to the light, determine where to set the light and learn how to adjust the shader settings to get the right feel.

Additional Lights

One light will not light up the entire scene. Learn how to try and match the different lights to the lighting conditions in the night time still. Also add two flashing navigation lights and animate the plane.

Enhancing the 3D Output - Faking Ambient Occlusion

Where there is light there is shadow (usually). Nuke's lights don't cast shadows, so walk through a process and try to establish a method that could be used for self shadowing.

Following shadow

The plane still needs a shadow, without the lights casting shadows there is a need to create a Roto shadow instead. Yet, we don't want to change the shadow every-time we change the animation of the air-plane. So how do we hook our 2D shadow to the 3D animation of the plane?


Now that the shadow is following the plane when it is moved it is about time to match it to the scene. We will have to tweak it a bit, feather it out, and feed it into a color correction. We will also feed into a new channel where it can be used as a separate instance without having an effect on the rest of the scene.


Another way to enhance a 3D object can be achieved by letting the object reflect its surroundings. This is usually achieved within a 3D application. Using an environment light we will try to project the surrounding back onto the plane.

Rough Edges

Even when increasing the anti aliasing to a high level 3D renders can still have jagged edges. This does not create a convincing appearance. We will try to reduce the rigidness of the rendered boarders.

Depth of Field - Z-blur

Utilize the z-depth pass and use its depth information to control the amount of blur we want to add to the different regions of our image. We will set up our focal point and gradually slip out of focus to the point where highlights will start to bloom.


Defocused lights in a dark image can look very colorful and pretty. Building the right kernel for the convolve tool can really make the difference in the appearance of a defocus.


We have a pretty defocus in the background and the air plane in mid range. So something could be placed in the foreground. Adding a window frame to the shot will round of our composite.

About the Author

Derk started his career as a graphic designer for vintage merchandising products. Not being solely interested in pub signs, he shifted his focus to moving image and visual effects while studying visual communication in Aachen (Germany) and Birmingham. For the past four years he has delivered creative solutions for various corporate and independent projects. His expertise lies in the field of motion graphics and compositing. For more information on Derk, please contacted cmiVFX.


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