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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.
A more sophisticated type of shadow for Maya is the Raytrace shadow. Now this will actually create a much more realistic shadow, but at the expense of render time. So let me show you how they work. These work well in either mental ray or the Maya Software Renderer. But for this, I am just going to show it to you in the Maya Software Renderer. So we have the same scene here. We have a scene with one simple spotlight. So if I render this, you'll see that I have no shadow.
But if I go into my spotLight, I can actually turn on my Raytrace attribute. So I want to make sure that I turn on Raytrace shadows. And then in the Maya Renderer, I want to make sure that I have this at Production quality, and I want to make sure that Raytracing is turned on. So once I do that we can use Raytrace shadows. So I select this view and go ahead and render.
Now you'll notice that the shadows are a little bit different than they were with the depth map shadows. In fact, you can see here that I am actually getting transparency rendering through that glass tabletop. In fact, if I want to, I can zoom in here a little bit closer and do another render. And you'll see that the shadow is very accurate and it also does transparency, which is wonderful. But the thing about the Raytrace shadow is that it can be rather harsh, because it's actually a very specific shadow.
So you get a very hard edge to a typical Raytrace shadow. But you can change that by selecting the light and going into the Raytrace shadow rollout. We can actually soften up a Raytrace shadow by doing two things. One is increasing the radius of the light. So how big is that light? The other is how many rays are being cast from that light. So the more of both, the softer the shadow. So let's go ahead and give it a fairly large Light Radius of 10.
And let's give it more Shadow Rays, so let's say 32. Now what this is going to do is it's going to take 32 times longer to calculate the shadow than it did last time. So these can easily slow down your render times. But when we select this view and actually render it, first thing you'll notice it does take longer to render, but second, you do get that soft edge to the shadows. So that's a wonderful way to do shadows, because you're getting transparency and you're getting a softer edge.
But the hit is on render time. But if you have the render time, go ahead and use Raytrace shadows. The last parameter to this is called Ray Depth Limit. Now with Raytracing what it does is it actually bounces light through the scene. So this just determines how many times that light bounces before it creates the shadow. So typically, you keep it at 1 but you can't bring it up, particularly if you have reflective surfaces and you want the reflections to cast shadows. So if you have something reflecting off of something, the reflection can actually cast a shadow as well.
So those are some of the basics of Raytrace shadows. Now remember, Raytrace shadows can take longer to render, but they are more accurate and they do transparency.
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