3D Glossary--Ambient Light
Amibent light is that generalized lighting not attributable to the direct rays from a specific light source. In the physical world, ambient light is attributable to the reflection of light off of surfaces in the environment. Without ambient light, objects in shadow would be completely black.
Ambient light can be simulated in 3-D computer graphics by complex "radiosity" calculations, but most rendering engines simply provide an ambient lighting value that illuminates all objects in the scene to the desired degree. In some high-end applications, such as Softimage, an ambient value is determined for individual surfaces rather than for the scene as a whole. The careful balance of ambient and direct light sources is the key to convincing lighting.
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Created: August 26, 1997
Revised: August 26, 1997