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I've seen some artists post scenes they describe as "self lit" [1],[2]. What does this mean, and why is it desirable?

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It refers to models that already have the lights prebaked using lightmaps or pre-render all the model and bake it into a texture. Both are useful for real-time visualization of static scenes, since it can show photorrealistic results without have to render everything everytime. You can get more information about in the links below:

Lightmap: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightmap

Baking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB09T--_ZvU

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