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Lighting and Shading for Film Production

Lighting and Shading for Film Production

A 6-week course focused on lighting, shading, and rendering in Arnold for Maya, and explores how the software has helped shape today’s modern entertainment industry.
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Lights! Maya! ACTION!

Lights! Maya! ACTION!
This course focuses on lighting, shading, and rendering in Arnold for Maya for feature films. Students will set up a simple lighting scene and learn the differences between Direct vs Indirect Illumination, light typologies, and designations. They will learn high-level transmissive materials: refraction, caustics, sub-surface scattering and mixing materials. Students will take the skills they’ve learned and composite various elements together, reconstruct lighting and shading using Nuke, and cover good rendering strategies.
Registration Now Open
Registration Period
Oct 12, 2023 - Jan 29, 2024
Course Start
Jan 24, 2024

Course Format


Skills Level



6 weeks


Once a week


Individual recordings

Lecture Type

Due each week. Expect to spend 10-20 hrs/wk viewing lectures, Q&A, and time on assignments.
Must have taken Intro to Maya or familiarity with 3D concepts and Maya.
Maya 2019 (or later), Arnold 5.3, Nuke 11 (or later), Photoshop

The more you know, the better.

Arnold for Maya history, Arnold for Maya and its competitors | Integration with Maya | Using the Arnold render view: stocking pictures, IPR, render elements | Simple scene lighting and shading example | Skydive and rect lights | Direct versus Indirect illumination (Global Illumination) | Materials overview | Linear workflow | 32-bits rendering, EXR single and multichannels | Rendering settings, quality versus speed
Camera and render settings | Film and render aspect ratios | Color management and Linear Workflow concepts | Pixel depth definitions: 32-bits versus 8-bits | Color management and Linear Workflow concepts in Maya | Render etiquette and naming conventions | Rendering EXR multi channels | Rendering layers and AOVs | Compositing lavers and AOVs with Photoshop
The quality of light theory: big lights vs small lights | Soft and hard lighting | Natural lighting: the sun and the directional light | Natural lighting: the sky and the Skydome | Artificial lighting: Spotlights, gobos and light falloff | Artificial lighting: Photometric lighting | Light emission and self-illumination
The area light and outdoor illumination | Light linking | Indoor illumination | The three points lighting technique: the key light | The three points lighting technique: the fill light | The three points lighting technique: the rim light | Per light rendering and compositing
Shading fundamentals | The AiStandardSurface construction | The diffuse components. reflections and speculars | Surface alterations: bump, normals and displacement | Opacity and transparency | Refractions and caustics | Emitting light materials:luminescence | Translucence and sub-surface scattering | Mixing materials: bland and additive modes
Create modeling and quality subdivisions | Ambient occlusion and curvature | Mattes and material IDs | Brief intro to Nuke compositing and “pre-light” rendering and compositing in Nuke | Beauty deconstruction and reconstruction in Nuke | Using Mattes and stencil masks | 3D depth of field for animation |  2D depth of field strategies | 2D motion blur strategies | Typical premultiplication issues | Using cinematic look up tables with Arnold and Nuke

Bringing out the best in talent

Lighting Artist
LECTURES BY Frederic Durand
Course Start: Jan 24, 2024
Frederic is a lead lighting artist and look developer of photo-real effects for movies and commercials. Working in films and commercials for the past 20 years in Los Angeles, London, and Paris, he has had the opportunity to work at Sony ImageWorks, Disney Features Studios, DreamWorks, Jim Henson’s Workshop, the Mill, and Moving Picture Company (MPC), among others. His approach is not only technical but also artistic, as he heavily emphasizes and integrates cinematography aspects into his work.

In addition, he has strong a drawing, painting, and photography background, and continues to hone these crafts on a regular basis. He earned his Master of Arts from the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs (ENSAD) and studied at the Cooper Union in NYC. He is very experienced with RenderMan, Arnold, V-Ray, and Nuke, and has over two decades of teaching experience, most notably at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

Instructor's Gallery



Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education, these finance options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

3x Payments


2x Payments


Full payment


Oct 12, 2023 - Jan 29, 2024
COURSE BEGINS on Jan 24, 2024
Lighting and Shading for Film Production

What makes this learning experience unique?


Receive personalized feedback on all assignments from the industry’s top professionals.


Enjoy lifetime access to the spectrum of course content, including lectures, live Q&As, and feedback sessions.


Show off your Certification of Completion when you turn in 80% of course assignments.


Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with flexible, online course scheduling.


Very thorough and informative lectures and critiques


I really loved how Frederic started with the basic info about lights and shaders, and worked his way up to the advanced stuff. It was really clear that way.


I am glad I have taken Fredric’s course because he made the course interesting, which is really helpful for me to memorize all those difficult technical controls of the software. He also gave helpful artistic advice. Those improved my skills a lot.


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