Environment Files: .hdr vs. .renv

What is the difference between the two file types and can you use .hdr in place of .renv?



Hi @scrappydog1958 ,

.renv is the Rhino environment file that can contain a 32bit image like .hdr or .exr. You can drag and drop one of these onto a Rhino viewport to create an environment that uses it.

Many thanks Brian.

I am still a bit confused; it seems that the rhino renderer does not recognize .hdr’s as a valid format even though it lets you load them into the scene (drag and drop). You do seem to loose functionality with the controls in the environment panel though when loading an hdr in place of an renv. What am I not understanding here? VRAY does not recognize .renv format files but relies on hdr’s. The standard workflow is very similar to the rhino renderer. You start by creating the environment and have lots of choices.

Thanks in advance.


In the Rendering panel for background enable 360° environment. Click the dropdown menu and press the big plus icon. Choose Basic Environment. Edit the Basic Environment, click on Set background texture. Select your HDR file.

If you want to use the same environment for reflection and skylight then make sure these are not set to custom environments (scroll a bit down in the rendering panel if you don’t see them right away).

You can either add the hdr as Nathan explained to an environment or drag and drop the hdr into a Rhino viewport and choose Environment as the thing to make with it from the dialog that pops up. Think of the hdr as the thing the environment uses not the environment itself. You could use any equirectangular panorama in an environment too but only 32bit images with sufficient luminance depth will work with rendering engines to make realistic lighting and reflections happen.

Thank you Nathan,

I just blundered onto this before I read your most helpful post (put enough monkeys in a room for long enough…….).

Last question for the day; I forgot where you make the environment invisible but still get your scene lit from it…….



Rendering panel, instead of 360° environment set solid color. Then (scrolling down) enable skylight, set it to custom and pick your own environment.