Lighting is the step whereby light is added to a scene and may be emulation of the sun, or perhaps duplicating artificial lights. The desired effect is achieved with various angles, sources and types of light. If this stage is not executed correctly then the final product will be greatly diminished as the texture of a model will be affected, as well as the realism or the atmosphere.
Rendering follows lighting and is the process by which the model and scene, after careful preparation, is processed by software to produce output files. It is important leading to this stage in the pipeline that every element has been setup correctly, the same way a scene is set in photography.
There is also a parallel to photography in the way a camera is inserted into the scene, to determine what will be seen and how it is intended to be seen.
Many software options and rendering advancements are also a consideration during this stage in the pipeline.
The final stage, compositing, is the time for editing and combining together. This is when everything that has been made will now be polished by making creative choices regarding the rendered animation.
Different sections of rendered animations are essentially layered and a compositor will ensure that the same style and the same vision is seen throughout. Apart from piecing things together to make a whole, consistency is key.
By the time a pipeline has reached the stage of compositing the material which will comprise the final product has already been created and the product can finally be made into what was intended in the pre-production phase of the 3d production pipeline.
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