How to get photorealistic render in hitfilm?

Is there a way to get a photorealistic render in Hitfilm? I can render the same setup (lights, model, etc) in blender and it looks good but it looks cartoony in Hitfilm. Blender has different rendering options. Is this why Hitfilm's renders look cartoony (its rendering engine) or can someone educate me on how to get photo like renders.?


  • edited September 2017

    Blender is made for 3D modeling while Hitfilm's a bit weak in that area but you can still get real good material looks with cook-torrance options and proper lighting placement.

    Can we see your render?

  • edited September 2017

    Hitfilm is using the GPU geometry+texture render via OpenGL. The GPU 3D rendering/texturing stuff is designed for speed. Speed in games. Also 3D modeling apps use OpenGL for fast previews so the speed helps there.

    It is no surprise that modeling apps have/support separate final renderers from the GPU 3D model engine. Those are about quality and speed takes backseat to quality. They also likely require additional options/features. Hitfilm does not have Those separate render engines may be using GPU, but that is them using the GPU massive parallel compute abilities. It's not using the full 3D geometry+texture engine. Basically just the shaders.

    So Hitfilm looks kinda high end video gamey because it is using much of the same rendering engine they are using. 

    I remember this awesome shot done in Hitfilm. A 3D helicopter, green screen guy put into the moving 3D copter. Digital roof damage and so on. Does the 3D copter look "real". No. But does it really matter in the context of a decent watchable video.

  • Stargazer54Stargazer54 Moderator
    edited September 2017

    So yeah . . . well . . . HF is a compositor (that is it's strength).   And yes you can bring in 3D models and light them fairly well.   And as long as you have a properly UV mapped object you are are getting pretty close to the "real" deal.

    But . . . there is no substitute for rendering your sequence in a full-on 3D package that has more control over shading, texturing, procedurals, etc.

    So if you need that sort of control, simply render out an image sequence from your 3D package (with Alpha) and use the power of HF to composite your sequence into the scene with grading, lens flares and what not.    There is a reason it's called "Composite Shot".

  • Everyone else pretty much covered this, so I'll emphasize a couple of points and make a couple of minor new ones. 

    As @GrayMotion states, for best results in Hitfilm you need to be using the Cook-Torrance shader engine. Hitfilm defaults to the Phong shader engine (this was the only engine in Hitfilm 2 and 3). Cook-Torrance is a physically based shader engine and can give really good results. However Cook-Torrance settings will never ever be in a model's file, so you'll always have to spend the time to adjust materials when importing an object, and that takes time. I always recommend loading a model into its own Composite Shot, tweaking the materials, then saving the Composite Shot in the same folder as the model for further use. 

    Blender has a wider range of shader engines built in, including Phong and Cook-Torrance as well as Lambert and others. 

    Phong is very plastic-looking. Also good for glossy. 

    Cook-Torrance is good for glass, metals and rocks, and pretty good for wood. 

    Hitfilm doesn't have a shader optimized for things like skin (or anything with subsurface scattering). Hanrahan-Kreuger or Oren-Nayar are two examples of shaders optimized for organics. 

    A dedicated 3D app is probably raytracing--this means a light ray is followed from point of emission through all surfaces it bounces from until the ray either exits the scene or hits the camera. This generates realistic shadows and accurate reflections. Hitfilm doesn't raytrace, but quickly generates a raster shadow map calculated based on occlusion as measured from the light source. (this is why Hitfilm has a control to set resolution of a shadow map. Reflections are faked, too, with Hitfilm creating a rasterized reflection map created as a spherical panorama. Most of the time this looks pretty good, but if one created two flat planes and arranged them on either side of an object and reflection is turned on for everything, you won't get a recursive "Hall of Mirrors" look. 

    As @NormanPCN notes, Hitfilm uses OpenGL for speed. There is no technical reason why raytracing (or more shader models) can't be implemented, but they'll be a lot slower. Since Blender uses OpenGL previews, comparing a Blender preview to a full render is probably a valid comparison. The full render is a lot slower... 

    Full 3D apps support more model maps than Hitfilm. Bump, specular and normal maps are good, but transparency, reflection  and Illumination maps would help a lot. 

    Incidentally, I've long suspected (Norman and @Stargazer54 agree with this, I think) that all 2D and 3D planes in Hitfilm are OpenGl polygons being textured with a video clip and/or effects filters. This would explain several things in Hitfilm Order of Operations and some of Hitfilm's idiosyncrasies (for example, why MSAA on export affects everything). Devs have never confirmed or denied this, but, since devs are pretty good at pointing out when our guesses are wrong... 

    And, of course, once the model is comped the model probably needs color correction and other effects to blend in. 

    Now, I've seen a few Hitfilm model shots that are pretty damn Photorealistic, but I also know those took a lot of tweaking. 

    Incidentally, take a look at this old tutorial. This is Hitfilm 2 (phong shader only), but pretty much counts as photorealistic. Of course, Simon did a car--something nice and glossy--but if this shot were dropped into a film without explaination, I don't think anyone would think the central car was CG.

  • Thanks for everyone's help. I have one question, what is the Cook-Torrance shader? Is this option in Blender or Hitfilm? 

    I read online it is a lighting model, and its best you apply it as a custom lighting function...

  • Both. In Blender in the shader/render panel, in Hitfilm when adjusting a model's material. 

  • edited September 2017

    Thanks @Triem23

  • There is a renger engine called Cycles in Blender for photorealistic, it is based on shader as diffuse, glass, glossy etc..., you can mix of shaders to get very "real" but you need to understand about from shading, lighting and texture maps in order to put what to "look" it for. I see Cycles from user community to make beautiful 3D Photoreal, if you want learn go in youtube and search as Blender PBR Material or PBR rendering there are a lot tutorial for Blender about rendering  :)

    Hope that help you.

    Happy Blending

  • Minor semantic note: when render terms like "Physically Based Shader" (PBR) are used, I shake my head sadly. Occasionally a user will ask to add PBR rendering to Hitfilm. 

    PBR is a generic term. Cook-Torrance IS a PBR. One of many. Lambert, Hanrahan-Kreuger and Oren-Nayar are also PBRs. 

    The real difference is ray-tracing. Cycles is a fantastic ray-tracing engine and really powerful (but you have to know what you're doing to take advantage of it). 

    Anyways, ray-tracing is a better wishlist item than PBR. But... Ray-tracing is slow! 

  • edited September 2017

    @Triem23 I'm mixing up renders and shaders, but Blender's got a few more than Cycles now; the Principled BSDF shader seems to make all the other s redundant, as it does things (apparently) "properly",  but the Eevee render engine also seems blindingly fast.

  • Is there a way to get a photorealistic render in Hitfilm?

    Yes there is a way that you can get photo realistic 3D model or PBR renders out of HitFilm. Several in fact, it just depends on how you want to comp them into your project. With live footage or a full cgi background?

    I can render the same setup (lights, model, etc) in blender and it looks good but it looks cartoony in Hitfilm.

    For now, without guessing of every possible thing that could be making your renders look off, or video gamey, the first thing you should do is change your project settings to 32bit float. After that you need to learn how the HitFilm material settings work which is not as hard as it looks. Take a look at some pics on my thread, I literally learned about PBR the day before I posted the X-wing model pics, scroll down to see them. The HitFilm renders were super easy and "not complicated at all" to set up the materials.

    Blender has different rendering options. Is this why Hitfilm's renders look cartoony (its rendering engine) or can someone educate me on how to get photo like renders.?

    A couple of screen shots of your project and comp would help cut down on all the technical jargon, there would be very little guessing but yes Blender has a Raytrace engine and HitFilm has an OpenGL engine, that's why results vary... well don't discount the User on varying results. Yes someone can teach you how "they" do it. Is there a trick to it? Maybe there is... maybe there isn't? Who knows?.. The Shadow knows. :)

    We need a sticky for this very subject, I find us repeatedly answering the same question, like a washing machine, repeat, rinse... 

  • @spydurhank Well, I need to get caught up on my Hitfilm University tutorials. Once I get past the "Express/Pro" stage and into the "Pro-Only" stage, I'll be doing the ridiculously long series on 3D models. Just Cook-Torrance settings ALONE are a full tutorial. I've done a full breakdown of them at least once on this forum, but couldn't tell you where I posted it. Then again, the entire Hit-U project is the result of me getting tired of re-answering the same question. ;-)

    @GrayMotion You're the one I did the full breakdown for. Perchance did you save my notes as a text file somewhere? Spydurhank, did I send you the same notes, or did you already know that stuff? That reminds me, did I ever send you those notes I said I'd send you on creating massive fleets in the particle sim?

  • Yep, Not PBR so if only EEVEE can integrate in Hitfilm it will get as realtime rendering comparing to raytracing which is old and obselete.

  • @Triem23 - I can't remember where that is exactly. Although on Page 7 of my thread you did go into some detail but I know there is more.

    and a little more here:

    I'll dig around and put it all together best I can.

  • Sorry Triem23, of course I don't know the model of licence if this is apache model great to jump in hitfilm if not well there is a option Cycles with all baking of GI on different output from composition + update realtime quite fast too.

    I know this will take time to implement it but hope that will it and everyone win !

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