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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.
The other fundamental concept of lighting is indirect lighting. Indirect lighting is created when the photons from a light source enter an environment and then they start to bounce around within that environment, creating essentially ambient lighting. So in this render, we can see an example of direct lighting. There is a light source coming in through this hole in the roof of this little environment, and it's creating cast shadows when it hits the objects in the scene. So this has only direct lighting. When we add indirect lighting, we start to see a variety of different phenomena occurring.
For one thing, this is the same scene with just direct lighting added to it, and we still see our cast shadows from our direct light source, but now we can see that there is light within these shadows, and this is created by photons of light bouncing around, and they hit these surfaces, so there's still a little bit of dim lighting here. You can also see that there's color bleeding. The color of these objects is actually picked up by the photons of lights bouncing off the surfaces and hitting the wall, so there is a little bit of green here, a little blue underneath and little bit of red.
There is also a type of shadowing that's associated with indirect lighting, and this type of shadowing is known as ambient occlusion, and what that means is ambient light as it bounces around within an environment has a hard time getting to the cracks and crevices of that environment. So we start to see this darkening around the corners of the scene. So there are fewer photons in ambient light getting into the corners here than they are bouncing off of the wall. It's even more obvious in this scene, which is just a rendering of the dining room, and you can see the darkening here.
This scene is set up so that you only see the ambient occlusion in the environment, and so we can see that the corners of the room around the window frames, around the chair, where the chair meets the floor, fewer photons of light can get there. So we get what's known as ambient occlusion shadowing, and there are variety of ways to create these kinds of effects using mental ray, which we'll go into detail throughout this course.
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