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Maya 2009 Essential Training is designed to provide a strong foundation in this 3D modeling, rendering, and animation tool. George Maestri covers everything from the basics of the interface to bringing models to life with complex animation. He explores object manipulation, NURBS, UV editing, paint effects, and mental ray rendering. George demonstrates Maya's full functionality by building a robot from scratch. Exercise files accompany the course.
Up until this point, we have been rendering single images but Maya is an animation package, so we will have to render image sequences, so we can render animation. So the best way to do this or the easiest way to do this is through Maya's own Batch Renderer. Let me show you how that works. I have a file opened here. It's a called RedWagon_ Animated and this actually has some animation in it, it has Wagon kind of going through the scene here. In order to set up that rendering, first of all we have to do some stuff in the Render Settings window. So I can go to either Window > Rendering Editor > Render Settings or I can hit this little button here which brings up Render Settings.
Now the best way to configure this is to just give it a file name and an extension. So for example if I want it to be name_#.ext, that's how it will name it. In fact, you can see here the file name, it goes From and To. So I am going to animate, in this case, Start Frame is 1, End Frame is 10. So I am going to animate the first 10 frames. This particular sequence is 24 frames long, so I can certainly type that number in here, Frame Range is just tells you what you are rendering and here, it will tell you my first name is this file name prefix which is the name of my scene, RedWagon_Animated_1 to 24. If I want, I can certainly change that name by just typing in whatever I want. I can change the image format. Let's go ahead and render these just to JPEGs, just to make them small files and then also, I have got here what's called Frame Padding.
So if you notice, we have got RedWagon_ Animated 1 to 24, but a lot of times you want leading 0s on those numbers, so that way they organize for other types of compositing packages and so on. Now the best way to render animation in Maya is to use image sequences. Now this gives you a couple of benefits. One is if for some reason the render fails in the middle of the render and you've got 100 frames render, you still have those frames on the disc. But if you are rendering to something like a QuickTime or an AVI and it fails in the middle of the render, you have to go back to the very beginning and render those first 100 frames all over again. So it's much safer to render in image sequences and that's kind of how Maya is set up.
The other benefit for rendering image sequences is that you can distribute those images across multiple machines. So for example, if you are doing batch rendering, you can have machine one render the first third, machine two, the second third or whatever. You can certainly distribute the load among multiple machines, which you can't do again if you render in QuickTime or AVI. So we're setting this to JPEG and we've got our scene name set and then batch render is actually very simple. All you have is option here that says batch render. We can certainly look at the options here and there's really only one option, do you want to use all the available processors in your machine and that means if you have a dual core, or quad core or multi-processor system, do you want all of those processors rendering or do you want to specify how many processors to use. So you could actually background render on one processor, while you continue to animate on the other, so you don't completely load down your system with rendering.
In this case we're just going to render with all processors and we're just going to do batch render and close. Then, your status of your rendering is going to come up here in the bottom right-hand corner. It's going to say, Result: Rendering with Maya software and then once it gets going; it's going to start rendering fairly quickly. In this case, I have a fairly fast machine, so I render 24 frames and/in fractions of a second each. Now, once I have got those done, I can certainly look at those files. So probably the easiest way to do it is to go View Image from the File menu and let's make sure we're in our Rendering project. We will file those rendered images in the Images directory of our project, and here they all are. Now, if we want, we can also view an image sequence. So again, I can just go into my Rendering project and go ahead and load up just the first one and it will go ahead and automatically pick up that sequence and then you can see how that renders.
So those are the basics of batch rendering. Now, for those who have really intense rendering applications, there are third party rendering managers for Maya. Maya doesn't include a third party rendering manager on its own, so you do have to go outside of the original package. The one that I use a lot is called Smedge, but there are a number of other ones out there and they can actually manage multiple machines and distribute the load amongst a number of different machines. So those are basics of batch rendering in Maya.
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