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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.
If you need additional help when rendering with mental ray, or you want to know more about a specific function found in the mental ray menus, there is actually a mental ray manual included in the Maya documentation. To find this, you can go to the Help menu and choose Maya Help, and the help files will open in a web browser. At the bottom the Contents, you'll find a mental ray link, and this is the mental ray manual. It's fairly technical. If you look up something like Caustics, you may ran into a situation for instance where you start to see this kind of thing, and what does this is explaining is essentially how the Caustic Light Shaders are written in mental ray's own coding language.
In some cases, there has to be a little bit of a head scratching to figure out how this translates into the Maya interface. In that case, you can also do a search on specific functions and maybe type in something like "use light shape." Let's see if this phrase comes up with - if I click on the mental ray Area Light Attributes, and there you find more about the area lights and what the individual settings do.
So, the mental ray manual is an excellent resource for getting extra help on specific mental ray functions.
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