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You can combine the properties of spotlights with the shadow-casting quality of area lights when you're rendering with mental ray. I'm going to demonstrate this by creating a spotlight. I'm going to bring it up in the scene and scale it up. I'm going to increase the cone angle to about 60. Rotate it so it looks about like that. Actually, we can look through the light.
Now, we'll get a good idea of how this is going to be positioned in the scene. I'm also going to set the Decay Rate to Linear, and put the Intensity to about 18. Finally, I'm going to turn on Ray Trace Shadows. So if I create a render, we're going to get a fairly typical spotlight appearance in our scene. So you can see how the shadows appear on the surface of the table, and the cone angle, and how far the light spreads throughout the scene.
What I'm going to do is I am going to pump up that Intensity even more. Try 24. Turn on the Quick Render. Now, we can see this nice and clear. So if I want to create a light that has this basic shape in the scene, but use some of the nice, soft shadows created by area lights, I can do that by scrolling down to the Area Light section, under mental ray, and turn on Area Light.
And you're going to see that, in the icon, I have an area light here combined with the spotlight. I also have two settings for High Samples and Low Samples, as well as the High Sample Limit. I'm going to set this to 6 x 6, which is going to increase the quality of the shadows, and do a render. Now you can see how the shadows are nice and soft, just like we get from area lights, but at the same time, the light is definitely pointed in a specific direction.
The cone angle is controlling how far out the spread of a light occurs within the scene. So this is another option for creating specific lighting effects when rendering with mental ray. If we look at the original spotlight and then the area light version, we can sort of compare how the two are different.
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