Why visual effects artists love this shiny HDRI ball – Vox

A chrome ball is a surprisingly useful tool.
How do visual effects artists match their digital creations to real light? Sometimes, it involves using a very shiny ball.
Leo Bovell of Tryptyc has worked on a range of visual effects projects, but one of his most memorable experiences might be shooting in the Lincoln Memorial for an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. His task? Replace the real Lincoln with a completely digital — destroyed — version. To do it, he used an industry-standard HDRI map of the light in the scene.
HDRIs — high dynamic range images — mesh together different pictures to create a complete depiction of the light in a real scene. After that, it’s a matter of teaching a computer to cast that light onto digital objects. This technique is used for everything from creating entire scenes to providing key references for artists.
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