100% dynamic indoor lighting guidance

I’m using UE4 to create entire indoor scenes dynamically, which means baked lighting isn’t an option. So far my attempts at getting decent lighting have resulted in rather ugly, flat lighting.

Here are my project parameters:

  • This is for VR, just updated to UE 4.15
  • All machines running this will have a GTX 1080 or equivalent (professional environment where this is a known quantity)
  • Many of the scenes don’t have ANY windows. I desperately need a way to fake light being bounced around a room
  • The scenes are relatively simple (<1,000 objects in the entire scene, most have simple geometry)
  • The majority of lights are spot lights, but I could also use point lights if that helped

The best results I’ve found were pretty hacky and it feels like the engine is capable of doing something better:

  • A single directional light is facing downward (exactly at -90 degrees). It casts shadows, and all ceilings are set to not cast shadows.
  • Auto-exposure disabled
  • SSAO enabled
  • HDRI ambient cubemap with an intensity around 0.4

This approach gives me shadows that aren’t too harsh and fills the bulk of the space with light. The SSAO gives some dimension to the walls, but overall it feels bland. I even tried messing with LPVs, but spot and point lights don’t seem to have any effect on those.

Any ideas/suggestions on what I could do to get better dynamic, indoor lighting? Thanks in advance!

Tint shadows and use a skylight for indirect lighting, I would not suggest your method of having geometry that doesn’t cast Shadows like that. But of course it’s all about the final effect

Thanks for the advice HuntaKiller. How would you suggest I get shadows?

When I use skylight I don’t get any shadows (or perhaps I’m misunderstanding how they should work).

The size of the room makes point/spot light shadows a challenge — it’s very obvious that everything is coming from a point at the center of the room. Using a lot of smaller lights scattered throughout the room isn’t an option, either, because of the performance hit by using VR.

The single directional light with ceilings-that-don’t-case-shadows is an ugly solution, but so far the only way I’ve been able to get shadows. Any advice is appreciated!