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As we have already setup and rendered out a number of elements to a multi-channel EXR file, it's time now to see how this workflow can have tremendous benefits by compositing our elements back together again inside off the composite application. We are essentially going to reconstruct the render as it would come straight out of V-Ray first of all. Now we have provided a composite file for you to work with, so if you just follow along as we go to File>Open and then of course we need to locate our Exercise_Files folder, which in our case is found on Desktop.
Go into our Exercise_Files and you'll see there is a compositefiles folder. If we just open that up we're just going to work first of all with this Ch09_Elements_01 file. So if we click Open, you can see all of our file nodes load in the background and then we just dismiss the file browser. In here, as you can see we have a number of image nodes, all containing different views of our I multi-channel EXR file that is showing us all of the different elements that we have already rendered out. Now of course you need to see how we can import footage into composite and also how we get to view all our render elements inside of that footage.
So if we come up to file, this is just one way that we could perform this operation, we just use the import option. You can see we go into our compositefiles folder and we just want to select another instance of our Elements.exr file. Let's import this, you can see that pops into our Player view and again let's just dismiss the browser window. Now using this particular file node we can show you, how you can gain access to all of the different elements that we've kept it inside our multi-channel EXR file.
So with it selected, we come to our Options tab and you see we have a number of areas that we can work with in here. The two we are interested in are the Channel Views and Channel Groups areas. If we click on this Channel Views option, you can see we have all of our render elements listed. If we select one of these, so for instance our V-RayDirt element, you can see that it shows up inside of this particular file node. Now of course we don't want to work with yet another version of our ambient occlusion element, because we already have this setup in the scene.
What we really want is to setup our Z-Depth element. But you will have noticed that in this particular list that element is not listed in there. So now if I just from this list choose this Depth option, you can see our Z Depth element appears in the work area. Now it does look a little strange because we are only viewing the red channel of our Z Depth map at this moment in time. We could set it up so that we can see all of the grayscale values by placing it in each of the other channels. It doesn't really matter though because this will not affect how the map works in the scene, so it's perfectly fine just the way it is.
Well now we are really ready to start compositing our different elements back together. Now to do this we need to add tools into the work area. The way we do this is to middle-mouse-click; bring up the Composite Gate-UI and then just swipe across to the right to bring our tools list. Initially we want to work with our Composition tools and we want to go and grab a Blend & Comp tool, track that out and drop it into the work area. Now as we are connecting our lighting elements together, so our Direct Light Element and our GI Element, we can pipe them into any one of the two image-input ports on our Blend & Comp tool.
So for instance we will take our lighting and we will pipe that into the front port. We will take our GI Element and we will pipe that into the back port and now all we need to do is basically add these two together using a blending mode. So with the Blend & Comp tool selected, I am just going to click on our Blend Modes over here and the Blend & Comp tab. Now, you can see we get something a little bit strange going on here, because we only have a few options to choose from and they actually get cut off at the bottom. This is just a little quirk of the Composite UI.
If I just drag this down and then we click again, you see force all of our Blending Modes to pop into view. As we are working with lighting and all lighting passes should be combined together using the Additive Mode, that's the one that we are going to choose. So now we have those two connected together. And really, we just want to repeat this simple process to combine all off the other elements that will bring those up to this control image state. So for instance, if I take our reflection element, middle-mouse-click in the work area, swipe; grab another Blend & Comp tool.
Let's take your existing chain and pipe that into the back port, take our reflections pipe them into the front, select the Blend & Comp tool itself, change the Blending Mode to Additive, you can see we have now added reflections into the mix. And in exactly the same way we are going to add our Specularity. So grab the element, middle-mouse-click, swipe, pull the Blend & Comp tool into the work area for ourselves, pipe our existing chain into the back port, take our Specularity, place that in the front input and now that you can see we have added Specularity in there.
All we need to do is take our Blending Mode and set it to be Additive and again if we just step back through the chain, you can see how we are building up our composite. And now if we just make a comparison between what we have and our control image, you can see that we do indeed have an exact replica of the render as it came out of V-Ray. Of course the only thing that we haven't done to our control image is to apply a gamma correction to it. This was rendered out with a gamma value of one from V-Ray, so let's select this node, middle-mouse-click in the work; let's swipe across.
This time we want to come to the Color Correction tools, let's grab a color correct basics (CC basics) and drop that in the work area. And if we pipe our control image into it, select that node. And if I just gain a little bit of a clearer view of the controls here, we can now select this gamma option, the master gamma option and set a value of 2.2 and we have a completely gamma corrected image. Now we could of course add this color correct node on to our existing render elements chain as well.
We are going to save that for the end of the process though. So up to this point we have successfully recreated our V-Ray render inside of the composite application. We've put all of the elements back together and we've even seen how we can work with a multi-channel EXR file in composite, accessing all of the different render elements stored in there. But of course if this was all we could do with render elements, well we really would be better off just taking now a straight render out of V-Ray and going with that, we could cut out all of this extra work.
What we want to do now is show you how we can make some quick and very powerful changes to our final image just using the render elements that we have at our disposal.
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