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Navigating Lights

When you activate a light view, the viewport window controls change to a new set of navigation buttons called the light viewport controls (Figure 11.93). By navigating lights with the light viewport controls, you can fine-tune their placement and animate them over time.

Figure 11.93Figure 11.93 The Light window controls navigate Light viewports.

The names of light viewport controls are based on traditional terms for making movies. For a complete description of the light viewport controls, see Table 11.1.

Table 11.1 Light Viewport Controls




Dolly Light

Moves light along its local Z axis or line of sight.

Dolly Light + Target

Moves light and target along light's Z axis.

Dolly Target

Moves target along light's Z axis.

Light Hotspot

Changes the size of the hotspot.

Light Falloff

Changes the size of the falloff.

Roll Light

Rotates light around its Z axis.

Zoom Extents All

Centers objects in all non-fixed viewports.

Zoom Extents All Selected

Centers selected objects in all non-fixed viewports.

Truck Light

Moves light and target parallel to the view plane.

Orbit Light

Rotates light around its target.

Pan Light

Rotates light. Target rotates around light.

Min/Max Toggle

Toggles between viewport layout and full display.

Note: Free lights use virtual targets for the Dolly, Truck, Pan, and Orbit commands.

You can look at a scene from the point of view of a spotlight or a directional light.

To change a view to a light view:

  1. Open a scene that has a spotlight or directional light in it.

  2. Activate the viewport you want to change.

  3. Type $ (Shift + 4).

  4. The Select Light dialog box appears (Figure 11.94).

    Figure 11.94Figure 11.94 The Select Light dialog box prompts you to choose a light.

  5. Select a light, and click OK.

  6. The view in the viewport changes to the Light view (Figure 11.95).

    Figure 11.95Figure 11.95 The Light viewport shows how the scene looks from the standpoint of the light.

To dolly a light:

  1. Change a view to a Light view (Figure 11.96).

  2. Figure 11.96Figure 11.96 Open the Spotlight viewport.

  3. Click the Dolly Light button in the light viewport controls.

  4. Drag the dolly cursor up or down in the Light viewport.

  5. The light moves in or out along its local Z axis, or "line of shine" (Figure 11.97).

    The pool of illumination shrinks or expands (Figure 11.98).

    Figure 11.97Figure 11.97 The scene enlarges in the viewport after you dolly the light closer to its target.

    Figure 11.98Figure 11.98 The pool of illumination shrinks as a result.


To dolly a target, choose Dolly Target from the Dolly Light flyout.

To dolly a light and its target together, choose Dolly Light + Target from the same flyout.

The Truck command moves a light and its target across a scene parallel to the plane of the Light viewport.

To truck a light:

  1. Open a scene with a light in it (Figure 11.99).

  2. Figure 11.99Figure 11.99 The scene before you truck the light.

  3. Change a view to a Light view (Figure 11.100).

  4. Figure 11.100Figure 11.100 The view from the light shows the pool of illumination from above.

  5. Click the Truck Light button.

  6. Drag the panning hand across the Light viewport.

  7. The Light viewport moves across the scene (Figure 11.101).

    The cone of illumination moves as well (Figure 11.102).

    Figure 11.101Figure 11.101 Use the panning hand to truck the light.

    Figure 11.102Figure 11.102 Compare the result to the Light viewport.

Roll rotates a light along its line of sight. This affects the scene only if the light casts a rectangular cone or uses a projector map.

To roll a light:

  1. Open a scene that is lit by a rectangular cone of illumination (Figure 11.103).

  2. Figure 11.103Figure 11.103 Using a rectangular cone of illumination, the light projects a Brick map onto the scene.

  3. Change a view to a Light view (Figure 11.104).

  4. Figure 11.104Figure 11.104 Before rolling the light.

  5. Click Roll Light.

  6. Drag the roll cursor across the Light viewport.

  7. The light rotates around its depth axis (Figure 11.105).

    The pool of illumination, and any maps that are being projected, roll with the light (Figure 11.106).

    Figure 11.105Figure 11.105 After rolling the light about 50°.

    Figure 11.106Figure 11.106 The map rolls with the projector.

Orbit Light moves a spot or directional light around its target. If the light is a free light, it uses a virtual target located at the end of the light cone.

To orbit a light:

  1. Open a scene (Figure 11.107).

  2. Figure 11.107Figure 11.107 This scene is mainly lit from above and to the left.

  3. Change a viewport to a Light view (Figure 11.108).

  4. Figure 11.108Figure 11.108 The view from the spotlight that provides most of the illumination.

  5. Click the Orbit Light button in the Light viewport controls.

  6. Drag the cursor in the Light viewport.

  7. The light rotates around its target (Figure 11.109).

    The light orbits around the scene (Figure 11.110).

    Figure 11.109Figure 11.109 Orbiting the light around its target.

    Figure 11.110Figure 11.110 The scene is now illuminated from above and to the right.


To align a light to a surface normal, select the light and choose Place Highlight from the Align flyout. Then click the object. The light aligns to the normal and creates a highlight on the surface. It remains at the same distance from the object as it was before. For more information on controlling highlights, see Chapter 13, "Creating Materials."

Pan rotates a target around a light. If the light is a free light, it uses a virtual target located at the end of the light cone.

To pan a light:

  1. Open a scene that is lit by a spotlight or a directional light (Figure 11.111).

  2. Figure 11.111Figure 11.111 The light initially falls on the left front corner of the scene.

  3. Change a view to a Light view (Figure 11.112).

  4. Figure 11.112Figure 11.112 The view from the Light view-port shows the area of illumination.

  5. Click the Pan Light button in the Light viewport controls, located on the Orbit Light flyout.

  6. Drag the cursor across the Light viewport.

  7. The Light view pans across the scene (Figure 11.113).

    The light sweeps across the scene (Figure 11.114).

    Figure 11.113Figure 11.113 Panning the light across the scene.

    Figure 11.114Figure 11.114 The light sweeps across the scene.

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