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Lighting and Rendering with mental ray in Maya
Illustration by John Hersey

Anti-Aliasing Quality


From:

Lighting and Rendering with mental ray in Maya

with Eric Keller

Video: Anti-Aliasing Quality

The settings that determine the quality of your rendered images are, of course, found in the Quality tab for the Render Settings window, when you are Render Using is set mental ray. So, let's take a look at this tab. So there are a number of Quality Presets that you can use. As you change from one preset to another, you can actually see these settings down here will change. So, if I go to the Production setting, you can see how the sampling has changed automatically. So, I want to take a look at a low-quality render.
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  1. 3m 46s
    1. Welcome
      1m 32s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 14s
  2. 19m 8s
    1. What is a CG light?
      1m 22s
    2. Types of CG lights
      10m 55s
    3. Direct lighting
      4m 48s
    4. Indirect lighting
      2m 3s
  3. 53m 20s
    1. Decay rate
      6m 30s
    2. Previewing lighting and shadows
      2m 37s
    3. Creating depth map shadows
      1m 57s
    4. Troubleshooting depth map shadows
      2m 38s
    5. Shadow map overrides
      5m 30s
    6. Using the shadow map camera
      5m 31s
    7. Saving and reusing shadow maps
      2m 48s
    8. Creating raytraced shadows
      1m 56s
    9. Adding softness to raytraced shadows
      3m 42s
    10. Creating area light shadows
      5m 11s
    11. Sample: mental ray area light
      4m 23s
    12. Setting area light visibility
      8m 7s
    13. Creating soft shadows with spot lights
      2m 30s
  4. 43m 35s
    1. Setting global illumination for interiors
      2m 33s
    2. Tuning global illumination
      5m 56s
    3. Global illumination photons
      1m 12s
    4. Activating caustic light effects
      3m 28s
    5. Tuning caustic settings
      3m 35s
    6. Setting caustic light effects on metal
      2m 35s
    7. Using final gathering for indirect lighting
      2m 9s
    8. Tuning final gathering
      4m 2s
    9. Reusing final gathering maps
      3m 21s
    10. Adding light with shaders
      5m 27s
    11. Creating final gathering maps for animation
      4m 26s
    12. Combining final gathering with global illumination
      4m 51s
  5. 1h 2m
    1. Activating the Physical Sun and Sky network
      2m 33s
    2. Tuning the Physical Sun and Sky settings
      7m 18s
    3. Applying physical light shaders
      8m 54s
    4. Applying image-based lighting
      8m 57s
    5. Tone mapping
      6m 23s
    6. Applying portal light shaders
      7m 45s
    7. Creating light beams with participating media
      10m 9s
    8. Adding depth of field with the Bokeh lens shader
      10m 39s
  6. 48m 21s
    1. Introducing render layers
      6m 13s
    2. Creating render layers
      4m 28s
    3. Splitting a scene into render layers
      15m 36s
    4. Applying render layer presets
      7m 47s
    5. Setting render layer overrides
      7m 7s
    6. Creating render layer composites
      3m 52s
    7. Organizing renders with tokens
      3m 18s
  7. 42m 24s
    1. Introducing render passes
      2m 56s
    2. Comparing render passes and render layers
      6m 44s
    3. Editing render passes
      10m 41s
    4. Using appropriate materials
      5m 51s
    5. Batch-rendering passes
      5m 56s
    6. Compositing in After Effects
      6m 41s
    7. Rendering the EXR image format
      3m 35s
  8. 23m 3s
    1. Anti-Aliasing Quality
      6m 44s
    2. Setting color profiles
      2m 53s
    3. Diagnosing raytracing
      5m 7s
    4. Adjusting motion blur
      6m 57s
    5. Finding mental ray help
      1m 22s
  9. 21s
    1. Goodbye
      21s

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Lighting and Rendering with mental ray in Maya
4h 56m Intermediate Jul 22, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding computer-generated lighting
  • Creating depth map and ray traced shadows
  • Softening and shaping shadows
  • Working with global illumination
  • Lighting with the caustic settings
  • Applying physical and portal shaders
  • Adding depth of field with the Bokeh shader
  • Splitting a scene into render layers
  • Comparing render passes and render layers
Subjects:
3D + Animation Rendering Photography Lighting
Software:
Maya
Author:
Eric Keller

Anti-Aliasing Quality

The settings that determine the quality of your rendered images are, of course, found in the Quality tab for the Render Settings window, when you are Render Using is set mental ray. So, let's take a look at this tab. So there are a number of Quality Presets that you can use. As you change from one preset to another, you can actually see these settings down here will change. So, if I go to the Production setting, you can see how the sampling has changed automatically. So, I want to take a look at a low-quality render.

So, I will set this to draft. In the case of this particular scene, I have Final Gathering. So, I am going to turn Final Gathering back on. As I switch presets, depending on the Preset that I am using, this may be on or off. In other words, if I switch to a preset that doesn't use Final Gathering, it will turn it off automatically. For example, if I switch to Preview, you will see that this was turned off. So, that's something you should be aware of. If you are going to use Final Gathering, and you change from one preset to another, double-check your Final Gathering settings. In some cases there are - this preset, for instance, has Final Gathering so it will turn it on for you if it's off.

Let's switch to the Draft preset. I will turn the Final Gathering back on and do a render. So, with the Quality set to Draft, you can see that the image quality itself if fairly low, and this is most noticeable along the edges of the surface. If I zoom in here, you can see that the edges are very blocky. This is also true for some of the details around here. This is because, of course, computer, images, or images generated on a computer, are made up of pixels, which are just square blocks of color.

Anti-aliasing is the amount that the colors are blended along the edges in order to create the illusion of a nice smooth edge. So, at the draft quality, we can see that even when I click 1:1 button here, it shows the image at 100%. Then you can see at 100% the actual image size, it's very apparent that the edges are quite rough. So, I am going to store this image and minimize the Render view, and I will go to the Quality Presets, and I will switch to Production. Then you see who these settings change, and I will get to these in just a moment.

I am going to go and turn my Final Gathering back on and create another test render. When I use the Production preset, see how the edges are smoothed. So, I will store that image, and we can compare it to see the difference in quality. So, I am going to zoom in here, and as I move to this stored image to this one, you can see how the colors have been blended together. In Draft quality, it's quite low. There is not as much blending going on; at the Production quality, it's much smoother, even when I am zoomed in.

For most of your Maya renders, you will probably find that the Quality Preset does a pretty good job, but if you run into a situation where you actually need to improve the quality beyond the Preset settings, at that point you are going to want to start to work with the controls here in the Ray Trace/Scanline Quality section. The production setting uses a Max Sampling Level of 2. To understand what that means, you can take a look at this little hint here that Maya is giving you. This means that at least one sample per pixel - at most, 16 samples per pixel.

As I move this up, if I set this to 3, it will say at least 4 samples per pixel, at most 64 samples per pixel, and you can see at level four. So it's essentially quadrupling the maximum level of samples. So, what exactly does this mean? Well, as mental ray shoots rays into the scene and starts sampling the objects in the scene in order to create them into a two-dimensional image comprised of pixels, it's going to look at each sample point in this scene as it's rendering and take a look at the neighboring points and determine, based on the contrast between the initial sample and subsequent samples, how many samples per pixel, and you can control how mental ray determines this by lowering the Anti-aliasing contrast.

The lower this value is, the more likely it's going to create more samples per pixel. If I set this down to .05, there is going to be a higher chance that it's going to use more than one sample per pixel as it renders. So, generally speaking, if I am trying to fine-tune the quality of the images what I will do is I will adjust this value first. I will go in here and lower this by a little bit, do a test render, and compare to see how much I like it. If I can't get what I need out of lowering this value, at that point I will start to increase the Max Sample level.

This will add a lot to render time. If I increase this, if I decide the 2 is just not enough, and I increase this, I will also set this back up to .1, do some test renders, and again, lower this value gradually until I get the image that I need. You can actually get a visual indication of how mental ray is sampling the image by turning on Diagnose Samples. So, this will show you an image where you can see where most of the anti-aliasing is going, or where most of the samples are devoted.

So, I am going to turn this on, and make sure my Final Gathering is back on just so - the Final Gathering in this case is not going to have any bearing on the Anti-aliasing, but in order to be consistent with the other renders that I have created, I am just going to turn it back on. So, now that this is on, I will create a test render by clicking on the Render Clapboard icon. We are going to see the image, as we are used to seeing it, and now we are going to see a second pass, and in this second pass we are going to get a color representation. So, everywhere you see light colors or white colors in this grid is where mental ray is increasing the sampling.

So along the edges and around the specular highlights, because there is more contrast between this area, and that the contrast between here and here is greater, so it's going to create more samples in this area than it will, say, around here, where the contrast is low. So this is another way to double-check your images and see exactly how mental ray sees the scene while it's rendering. But overall, I think for everyday rendering the presets will get you what you need.

It's only in rare situations where you have a very complex scene that you will have to start adjusting the sampling quality.

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