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In Maya 2011 Essential Training, George Maestri demonstrates the tools and feature set in Maya, as well as the skills necessary to model, texture, animate, and render projects with this deep and robust piece of 3D animation software from Autodesk. This course takes an in-depth tour of Maya's interface, including navigating and manipulating objects in 3D and customizing the workspace. The course also covers object creation and modeling basics, shading and texturing, surface mapping techniques, character rigging, and lastly, rendering and final output. Exercise files accompany the course.
Anytime you have an object that's shiny or semi-transparent, you'll want to start dealing with Raytracing. Raytracing really helps with reflections and refractions. So Raytracing works both in the Maya Software Renderer as well as mental ray. They are set up a little bit differently. So let's go ahead and start with the Maya Software Renderer. I've got this basic scene setup. Let's go ahead and just do a quick render. As you can see, I don't have any reflections or refractions.
It's just a basic scene, with maybe a little bit of transparency on that sphere. So if I go into my Render Settings window and under the Maya Software tab, I can go open up Raytracing Quality and turn on Raytracing. When I do that, it will calculate any reflections or refractions in the scene. So once I do that, the scene looks a lot different, because what we now have is we have Raytracing.
We have lights bouncing around the scene. We can control how these reflections work by manipulating the lights as well as the materials on the objects. So, for example, with our light, let's go into our Outliner window and select the spotlight. Then go into the Attribute Editor. This is the Spot Light in this scene that's actually creating the shadows. But right now, it's creating what are called depth map shadows, which are not Raytrace.
They're basically bitmap based. If I turn on Ray Trace Shadows, you'll notice a little bit of a difference. Now this is probably one of the first things you'll do with Raytracing. That is that the shadows themselves will be slightly transparent. The next thing you can do is affect how the actual surfaces work. So, for example, if I selected this sphere, if we go into the material for this sphere, which is a phongE1, and scroll down, you'll notice it has Raytrace Options.
So we can actually affect how Raytracing affects this material. So if I want to, I can, for example, turn on Refractions and give it a Refractive Index. So now this will act like a lens. So now when I render, notice how the surface changes a little bit. I'm getting this kind of bending of light as the light comes through, so I can actually see kind of a bit of refraction in there. So if I change its value, if it's a very low value, you get a high degree of refraction.
If it's close to one but just slightly below, I'll get a slightly different effect. But again, you can see how the light bends very close to this surface. We can also do things such as the number of refractions that we have, the amount of light that it absorbs with each refraction, and so on and so forth. With Reflections, each material can have the number of reflections that it can actually handle. So we can actually have multiple reflections.
So I can reflect the reflection of the reflection, for example. Now another thing you can control in the Maya Software Renderer is you can control globally how many reflections, refractions and shadows you have on a particular object. If you're using the mental ray renderer, and let's go ahead and go into mental ray here, and change that. By default, Raytracing is turned on. As soon as you turn on mental ray, Raytracing is turned on.
But we do have the ability here under Features to turn it on and off, but by default it will be on. We can also affect the Raytracing here under Raytracing. Again, we can control the number of reflections, refractions, and the number of shadow Raytraces. We can also blur reflections and refractions as they happen. So let's go ahead and render the same scene in the Maya Software Renderer. You can see it looks a little bit different, but it's actually very similar.
So that's one of the things that actually translates pretty well between the two renderers is reflections and refractions. So just remember that in either renderer, reflections and refractions are handled by the Raytracer. So we need to make sure that it's turned on in either renderer. Also, Raytracing can render transparent shadows, so that can also be very important.
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