Lightmap HDR Light Studio for Houdini  Carbon Drop 2


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Houdini Connection for HDR Light Studio

Create, enhance and edit HDRI environment maps in real-time with HDR Light Studio for Houdini.


hdr light studio houdini
Images lit with HDR Light Studio

HDR Light Studio transforms your Houdini lighting workflow:

  • Studio Lighting
  • Lighting to match a back-plate image
  • Adding lights/adjustments to existing HDRI maps

Key Benefits:

  • Improve Image Quality
    • Create perfect ‘custom’ HDRI lighting for your shots.
    • Photographic studio light sources bring realism to your images.
  • Fast Lighting Workflow
    • LightPaint – click on the 3D model to position lights on the HDRI map.
    • Light directly on the camera view without navigating in 3D to position lights.
    • HDRI map containing all lights renders faster than individual 3D lights.

Key Features:

  • LightPaint – click/drag on the 3D render to position lights
  • Create and edit HDRI maps in real-time
  • Procedural lights, image based lights and procedural sky
  • Includes a large library of HDRI light source captures
  • Ideal lighting solution for Physically Based Rendering
  • OpenColorIO Color Management
  • HDR Light Studio project is stored in the Houdini scene file
  • Can be used Standalone: Loads Alembic and Collada scenes

hdr light studio houdini

How does HDR Light Studio work with Houdini?

The model has materials assigned, the camera view is setup, you are now ready to light…

  1. Start HDR Light Studio using the HDR Light Studio node attached to an Environment light in Houdini
  2. Export the Houdini scene into HDR Light Studio’s live 3D view
  3. Paint your shot with lights in HDR Light Studio (The HDRI map updates in Houdini as you light)
  4. (Optional) Start interactive rendering in Houdini and see the results as you light
  5. To finish, HDR Light Studio generates a high-res HDR file for your environment light
  6. The completed Houdini scene is now ready for rendering locally, or on a farm

HDR Light Studio for Houdini is compatible with these renderers: Mantra and Arnold

A full version of HDR Light Studio is required to run a Connection.  The purchased connection must be the same variation as the main HDR Light Studio (ie. If a permanent license, must purchase permanent connection, or a floating license must purchase a floating connection).

HDR Light Studio provides a fast and precise way to light a 3D model. The lighting design is saved as a high dynamic range, high resolution environment map. If you purchase the connection, you can see the lighting evolve in your final render windows in Houdini as you shape the lighting in HDR Light Studio.

Connection Features

Shared Map

HDR Light Studio's environment map (canvas) is shared with Houdini. During the lighting process a lower resolution map is used for interactive speed. For the final production rendering in Houdini - a full resolution, high dynamic range image is generated and passed through the connection.

Embedded Projects

The HDR Light Studio lighting project is embedded within the Houdini scene file. So the scene lighting can be reloaded and edited in the future.

Scene Sync

The connection also enables artists to push 3D models directly to HDR Light Studio via the Alembic file format.


Bringing HDR Light Studio directly into your Houdini lighting workflow can save time to light, increase image quality, improve creative control and reduce final render times.

Connections - Compatibility Chart

More Info - Click to Download PDF

lightmap compatibility chart




What's new in Carbon Drop 2?


Photographic Exposure Stops
New buttons have been added to the brightness slider. They provide a more photographic approach to adjusting the light brightness. They work by adjusting the brightness relative to its current value. So you can double, halve, increase by 1/3 or decrease by 1/3. This is a really useful addition when an art director wants a light brightening by 1 stop for example. (Double the brightness).

Light Property: Value Blend
Value Blend has been added to the Light Properties panel. It allows blending of the luminosity values from a secondary piece of content with the primary light content. It provides a way to tweak the visual character of a light source. For example, adding a hot spot into an existing softbox, or graduating the light brightness across your light. It can also be used to clamp the brightness within an image, for example clamping the brightness of the sun in an HDRI map.

  • Content types for Value Blend are: Image, Gradient, Flat and the new Box Gradient
  • Blend Modes for Value Blend are: Add, Multiply, Over, Low Pass and Amplify

New Content Type: Box Gradient
Box Gradient is a really useful new content type in HDR Light Studio. It blends a vertical and horizontal ramp. It’s perfect for softening edges or creating a light with a really interesting character that will enhance your reflections. It is perfect to use on Alpha Multiply or the new Value Blend.

All Lights are now Uber Lights
When we released HDR Light Studio version 5, we made it easy to use, so the toolbar created simple lights with fewer settings. But many users don’t take advantage of converting them to Uber Lights that provide far more flexibility and creative options. So in this release, all lights are now created as Uber Lights, which include the Alpha Multiply and Value Blend settings.

Region Zoom on the Render View
A tool has been added to the toolbar on the Render View (HDR Light Studio) for region zoom. This was available previously only as a keyboard shortcut. Region zoom is great for positioning lights accurately on small details within the shot.

Light List Buttons Behaviour
Using the buttons on a light in the Light List (on/off, solo, etc) no longer selects the light. It was common for a user to turn off a light and not expect it to be selected, and move a newly hidden light by accident for example. The new behavior avoids this problem.

Color Coded Light Properties
With the addition of the new Value Blend on the Light Properties panel, it was easy to confuse which properties you were editing. We have color coded each light property section making it easier to navigate the properties panel.

Production Render Speed Improvements
Big performance increase with production renders containing lights using gradient ramps (which is many light types), especially large lights. Additionally, lighting designs containing many small lights will see significant render speeds too, with smarter use of render threads.

LUT Control for Preset Panel
The Presets panel now has a LUT drop down to view the presets with correct color space.
Presets Panel also provides links to download Preset lights and Installation instructions if presets are missing.

Other changes

  • New Maya Connection Interface – Shelf Buttons replace the Panel
  • 3ds Max 2019 Connection release
  • MODO 12 Connection release
  • DeltaGen 2018x and DeltaGen Stage 2018x Connection release


What's New in Carbon:

Faster Area Lights

Area Lights performance has been significantly improved in HDR Light Studio’s own 3D renderer. Area Lights are now created, adjusted and soloed instantly – even when loading huge 3D scenes. This inbuilt renderer is the perfect pre-vis lighting tool when IPR updates are too slow in the connected 3D renderer.

3ds Max and Maya Connection Workflow Improvements

  • HDR Light Studio is now even easier to use with 3ds Max and Maya. The plug-in now creates the lighting setup for you – simply press Start and begin image based lighting. Bringing the 3D scene into HDR Light Studio is also a click away – press Play and the scene will be automatically imported.

Cinema 4D Connection Improvements

  • Redshift and VRAYforC4D 3 now fully supported
  • Press play in HDR Light Studio to import the Cinema 4D scene

Additional Improvements:

  • HiDPI display support
  • LightWave 2018 Connection support
  • Change the diffuse color in the Render View (HDR Light Studio)
  • Major speed boost to production renders containing Procedural Sky
  • Easier client setup with floating licenses
  • Now includes a selection of demo scenes
  • HDR Light Studio interface layout is stored on a ‘per connection’ basis. Ensuring a preferred interface layout is loaded when using HDR Light Studio with different 3D software.



  • Software delivery via internet download
  • Internet connection required for license activation
  • HDR Light Studio software requires approx. 200MB disc space
  • Preset light content requires approx. 6.2GB disc space
  • CPU based, no special graphics card required
  • Compatible with Windows, MacOS and Linux
  • Compatible with Houdini 16.5/16/15.5/15

Please contact for special bundle pricing if you would like to use HDR Light Studio with additional 3D software - i.e Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, MODO, LightWave 3D, Maxwell Studio, VRED, Rhino, SOLIDWORKS Visualize, DeltaGen.


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