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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.
Another feature of render layers is their Blending mode. This is found in the Render Layer Editor. You can see I have Lighten, Darken, Multiply, Screen, and Overlay, and the point of this is really to allow you to do quick and dirty compositing within Maya, without the need to necessarily go out to another compositing package, such as Photoshop and After Effects. This functionality is so simple that this is something that's good for previews, but if you really want to do actual compositing, it's actually better to use Photoshop or After Effects.
I'll demonstrate one way that this can be used. For instance, I am going to use the ambient occlusion render layer that I set up in combination with the roomLit render layer that I have set up to fake global illumination-type lighting. So the first thing I am going to do is I am going to select the volume light render layer, and I am going to click on the Clapboard icon, so we get the red X there, so that means this is going to turn off; so this is not going to render, and same with Color Mask. I don't need either of these two. I just want to have roomLit and ambient occlusion, and you'll notice that the default render layer already is turned off automatically.
So these have green check marks, indicating that they will render. So the other thing I'm going to do is, on this render layer, I am going to set it to make sure it's left to Normal, so that's fine, because I just want it to render the way it is, and I am going to select this one, the Ambient Occlusion, AO_RL, and I want to set the menu to Multiply. So what this means is that when I create the Ambient Occlusion render, and if I open up my Render view, you can see it here, you see this dark shadowing that was created by this render; this is going to be multiplied on top of my normal-looking render.
So you'll see, in the corners here, a little bit more detail kind of shadowing come through that will kind of resemble something that I might get out of a Final Gathering render. So by setting it to Multiply, only the dark pixels of the ambient occlusion render layer will be multiplied on top of this render, and we will see that type of shadowing. So this is set to Multiply, this is set to Normal, the next thing I need to do is go into the Options menu and under Render All Layers, I am going to click on this little square here to open up the options, and I am going to say Composite and keep layers.
So what that means is it's going to composite. It's going to create my quick and dirty composite in the Render view window, and it's also going to keep the layers that are rendered as separate images, and so you have the flexibility of all of those being stored within the Render View window. So I will do Apply and Close. The next thing I need to do is go in Options again; even though I've set the options, I have not turned on Render All layers, so let me do that. Turn this on; otherwise, it will just render that one layer, and I won't see the composite, so this check mark should be on.
Now that that's checked on, I will select this render layer and create a render from the Render camera. So it's going to go through first, and it's going to render the roomLit render layer. So you can see that render first, then you'll see the ambient occlusion render layer render, and then Maya will automatically multiply one on top. Of course, you don't have that much control over the opacity of that render layer, or any other effects. So like I said, this is just a quick way to see a composite. And then the ambient occlusion render layer render, and then Maya will automatically multiply one on top. All right.
And now we can see our quick and dirty composite that Maya has created. It says here, Layers: Composite, so this ambient occlusion shadowing is on top of our roomLit render layer. And then into the Options, since I said Keep layers, you can see I have the Composite, and I have the ambient occlusion pass, and I also have the roomLit. So here is roomLit, ambient occlusion, and both composited together.
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