LMC Maya Lighting Tutorials

These are tutorials for my Intro to Animation and 3D Modeling Class. These are quick tutorials going over the basics of lighting. To render your scene, the quickest way is an Ambient Occlusion render. This shows the details of your model using Ambient Occlusion (AO). AO is emulating light that's everywhere but occluded from areas like under objects, in corners, between objects and their pieces of detail.
Rendering with Ambient Occlusion
 

All that's required is to render using Ambient Occlusion. This is how you set that up. If you're going to attempt to light your scene for extra credit, skip to lighting for extra credit below. Be Warned!! Lighting your scene will take longer. The more lights you add, the longer it takes.

Ambient Occlusion Lighting

This is how you will light your scene doing simply a AO pass. This is the fastest cleanest way to render your scene but doesn't have the bells and whistles of realistic lighting which takes long.

 
Lighting for Extra Credit
 

So for those brave souls and advanced students who want to light the scene, this is how to use the lights and what they do. I suggest using a physical sky for your background and then adding lights in as you need them. 

Setting up your scene for Physical Sky

This video shows how to prep your models for Glass and Transparencies so Light from a sun or moon can come in.

Setting up Physical Sky and Skydome

 

This video shows how to Create a Physical Sky and adjust it in your scene as well as render settings and rendering.

 
Different types of Lights in Maya and How they work
Directional Lights

This video shows what a directional light is. You don't need one of these if you're using a Physical Sky

Point Lights

Emit light out in all directions like a light bulb, candle or camp fire.

aiArea Lights

These are great focused lights that can emulate fluorescent bulbs, ceiling lights, light from monitors or TVs, etc.

Spot Lights

These are great focused lights lamps, headlights, circular light ceiling fixtures, etc.

MeshLights

These are used for taking objects that have an emissive material and literally turning them into a light source. You don't have as much control, but it's really cool for actual emissive objects.

aiSkyDome with HDR Backdrop

These are used for taking objects that have an emissive material and literally turning them into a light source. You don't have as much control, but it's really cool for actual emissive objects.