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Lighting and Rendering with mental ray in Maya with Eric Keller shows how to master practical mental ray techniques for rendering models created in Maya. This course walks through the most efficient and innovative mental ray techniques, including direct versus indirect lighting methods, creating different types of shadows, using the new ShadowMap camera, and reusing shadow and final gathering maps. A chapter on optimizing render times and enhancing render quality is also included. Exercise files are included with the course.
mental ray has a special shading network that is designed to make simulating outdoor lighting very easy. This is known as the Physical Sun and Sky Shading network. I'm going to demonstrate how to activate this feature. So, in this scene, I just have a simple model of a Frankenstein's monster toy, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to turn on the Physical Sun and Sky, so that it looks like this is rendered outside. I need to go into the Render Settings and switch to the Indirect Lighting tab, and under Environment, at the very top, there's a button here for Physical Sun and Sky.
So, I'm just going to press that button, and it will create the network. It's also going to automatically turn on Final Gathering. So, this is turned on automatically when you press that button. I'll close this. We have a new sunDirection light that's been added to the scene. So, I'm just going to pull this up, so we can see it a little bit better. I'm just going to go ahead and create a test render and see how it looks. This is what we get just by hitting that Render button. So we can see we have a nice little plastic toy here.
So, I'm going to save this. If I want to change essentially the look of the render so that it looks like a different time of day, the only thing I need to do - I don't need to change any of the settings - all I need to do is rotate the light. The closer that the Light icon becomes parallel to the ground, the later in the day or the earlier in the day, it will appear. So you can make it look like early morning or late afternoon. So, I just rotated that a little bit and do another render, and you can see now that we have the light coming from here, we have longer shadows.
You can see the Final Gathering is adding some blue color to the shadows. You also notice that in the background, we have a simulated blue sky, and you can even see the glare of the sun over here. Then there's also a horizon that's automatically added to the scene. If I position the light and rotate it so that it's pointing right at the camera, and do another render, you can see that we get something that looks little bit more evening, but you can also actually see a hazy disc that represents the sun.
So that is added to the render as well. After adding this to the scene, the next step would be to adjust the settings to get the kind of lighting that you'd like.
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