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So far in this course we've rendered all of our tests at draft quality. And now we're ready to do a final rendering. We'll need to check in with the render quality settings in order to get the best results. One thing that you might want to look at is the quality of the aerial lights themselves. In this studio lighting set-up, remember, we have mental ray area spotlights as our key lights. I'm going to select one of those, and go over to the Modify panel, and go down to the bottom to the Area Light parameters, and open that up.
And you'll see there's two fields here for samples in u and v, and this is the quality of the area lighting itself. And that affects the illumination as well as the shadows. A general rule of thumb is the larger the radius of the light is, the higher the samples value will need to be. Currently, our lights are set to the default sample values of five, and we're getting a good enough result. So there's no compelling reason for me to increase these values, because it would just cause the render time to become longer, and we wouldn't notice much difference on the screen.
However if we were rendering at a higher resolution or if we had a greater radius to the area light, we might need to increase these samples up to, let's say maybe, ten. The main area that you'll need to look at to improve your render quality is in the render setup dialogue. Go to the render setup dialogue, and in the Renderer tab you will see the sampling quality section, and we have different sampling modes in mental right now. We can just use the unified sampling mode in this case. And really all we need to worry about is this one setting here which is the quality.
And basically it determines whether more samples should be taken or not. We have a minimum and maximum value here. This means that there will be at least one sample per pixel and at most 128 samples per pixel. The higher this quality value is the more likely a single pixel will be sampled more than once, depending on its contrast and neighboring pixels. With a low value like 0.25 we'll never, ever reach a maximum of 128 samples per pixel, and if we did that would be a very, very slow render.
We actually never want to get up to 128. That's just a really crazy number of samples per pixel. Essentially, a good value for production is a quality of one. And that'll result in a minimum of one sample per pixel, and a maximum of something like 16 samples per pixel. We don't know exactly how many samples per pixel, we're going to reach. If we really needed to clamp it, and make sure we had a maximum threshold, we could put that in here. But, again there's no real compelling reason to do that. I'm just going to leave this at a default of 128.
Here are a couple of renders I've already made in order to demonstrate the difference in quality settings. On the left, we have a quality of 0.25 which is draft quality, and on the right, a quality of 1.0. In the training video, you might not be able to tell the difference between these because the video size has been sampled down. What I need to do to show you the difference here is to zoom in a bit on these. And take a look, especially at this area here of the watch. You can see that it looks kind of crunchy here in the draft quality rendering, with a quality of 0.25.
And it looks nice and smooth here in the production render with a value of 1.0. Additionally, you can see there's a lot of grain here in the watch band. And it looks pretty smooth over here. We can get even closer on that. Take a look at this. The draft quality rendering is quite grainy once you get up close on it. Every scene and every lighting situation is going to be different and may require different quality settings in the renderer. Here's a scene that uses environment mapping for imaged base lighting. And in this case to get good results, I had to increase the sampling quality even more.
Let's take a look at some prepared renders. Here are three renderings of this scene, with different sample quality settings. And again, we have to zoom in on this to see this really clearly. On the left we've got a sample of 0.25, or draft quality. Zoom in on that. In the middle here, I've got a sample quality of 1.0. And as you can see, this one looks pretty crunchy, this one's a little bit smoother. But we're still getting some grain up here. Got a lot of grain here moderate grain here.
This third image was rendered with a sample quality of 3.0 which is actually a pretty high value. But having done that now, the watch band looks a lot smoother. Once again, this is 0.25, 1.0, and 3.0. And, by the way, the image-based lighting technique with environment mapping took longer to render than the version with a self-illuminated piece of geometry. This frame took about 40 seconds to render. This one took about 2 minutes and 10 seconds, and this one took about 4 minutes to render.
But again every scene is going to be different, every situation is different. And you'll just need to do a bunch of test renders, to make sure that you've got the right settings for production output.
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