Join Brian Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video Locating mental ray features in the UI, part of Up and Running with mental ray in 3ds Max.
One thing I always like to do when introducing both new and experienced users to any of the complex tools that's in 3ds Max is to take a few minutes right at the start of a course to highlight areas in the 3ds Max UI where, in this case, Mental Ray tools and features can be found. In this video, then, we will take a whistle stop tour that you may want to come back to quite a few times in order to help familiarize yourself with all of the tool locations that we will quickly look at here. The most obvious and probably most prolific set of Mental Ray controls available in 3ds max can be found in the Render Set Ip dialogue.
This can be quickly accessed by using either the icon, or on the main toolbar, or by my preferred method which is the F10 keyboard shortcut. The Common tab is not something that we will look at in this course as this set of controls are standard in 3ds Max no matter which renderer is currently being used. So output path, frame range, image resolution, all of these are image handling and output essentials that as we say are common to all render engines. The Renderer tab by comparison, most certainly is an area that we will come back to quite a number of times throughout this course.
As this is where render critical controls, such as sampling quality, camera effects, shadows and displacement, as well as other render options are controlled. The title of the next tab, Global Illumination, in many ways speaks for itself, as this is where we gain access to a wealth of Mental Ray Global Illumination options including photons, final gather, as well as the ability to create caustic effects and control Mental Ray's IBL skylight mode. The Processing tab gives us access to a number of more technical controls for Mental Ray, including geometric caching, material overrides, diagnostic modes, and the ability to add network computers in order to have them participate in distributed bucket rendering.
Now although the basic functionality of the Render Elements tab again, as with the Common tab, remains essentially unchanged from render engine to render engine. One thing that does change are the actual render element types made available. If I just click on the Add button here, you can see that, along with what we might think of as standard 3ds Max render elements, we also gain access to a host of entries that are specific to the Metal Ray architectural and design material. Elements that will only work when scene objects make use of that specific material.
In here, we see entries for diffuse, specular, and translucency among others. All of which, of course, are component parts of the A&D material itself. The 3ds Max Command panel, as you would, perhaps, expect, is also an area of the UI that houses a number of Mental Ray-specific tools. In the Create tab and Geometry section, we have a Mental Ray entry in the drop-down that gives us access to the Mental Ray proxy object. In the Photometric Light section, we have the Mental Ray Sky Portal, and in the Standard Lights drop down, we have the Mental Ray area spot and area omni lights.
We also of course whilst on the subject of lights, need to remember that over in the system section we can create both sunlight and daylight systems that are able to make use of the Mental Ray Sun and Mental Ray Sky light types. Finally in the Command panel, specifically in the Modifier drop down list, we also have the Hair and Fur modifier, which has a Mental Ray geometry primitive shader that can be enabled for the rendering of hair and fur, with Mental Ray and, in fact, V-Ray 3 ,as it so happens. One hugely important area of Mental Ray control in 3ds Max is the Material editor.
Here we get access to a wide variety of Mental Ray materials that have been designed for surface texturing such as the A & D material, the car paint shader and a number of subsurface scattering materials. We also gain access to a wide range of map types that can again be used for texturing but that can also be used to control many other Mental Ray functions, some of which we will see in action later in this course. From 3ds Max's menu system, we really only get access to functionality that can be found elsewhere inside the UI.
With an exception to that rule being the Lighting Analysis tools that do, in fact, have their own menu entry, but that can only be found in the design flavor of 3ds Max. One menu item that does give us access to a couple of Mental Ray configuration controls is Customize. If we access that menu and then come down to the Preferences option, you can see in the Preference Settings dialogue that we have a Mental Ray specific tab with options that govern the visibility of render time buckets as well as Final Gather's pre-pass mode.
The Environment and Effects dialog that can be opened using the eight key gives access to a Mental Ray specific exposure shader, this being the MR photographic option. This gives render artists the ability to control a number of image aspects, including illumination levels in the render by means of some photographic controls, such as f stop, film speed, and white balance, to name just a few. It is worth noting here that the logarithmic option in the exposure list will also work with Mental Ray. One sometimes overlooked area of controlling Mental Ray is the ability that it gives us to control some of its features on a per object basis.
These controls can be found, if I just right click on our pool table here, in the Object Properties dialogue. Here, in the Mental Ray tab, we find localized per object controls for final gather, photons and even displacement. One object that has controls for Mental Ray specific features would be the 3ds Max camera. If I click here on the View Port POV menu, and then use the Select Camera option, you can see over in the Command panel that we gain access to features such as depth of field and motion blur, both of which we will take a look at using a little later on.
Finally with Mental Ray set as the production renderer, we also get Mental Ray specific controls on the Rendered Frame window itself. These, in reality, are just quick access controls that manipulate options found elsewhere in the UI, specifically the Render Setup dialog. But it is still good to know that these are here as they can oftentimes be very useful, particularly for quickly switching between various quality levels when doing test renders. Well, now that we know where in the 3ds Max UI Mental Ray tools can be found, let's take a bit of a step back for a minute or two and familiarize ourselves with some important Mental Ray terminology.
This will stand as us in good stead, as we look to develop our Mental Ray skills throughout this course. In the next video then, we will take a look at Mental Ray's use of shaders in the rendering process.
- Setting mental ray as the render engine
- Working with ActiveShade mode
- Using Nvidia's imf_display tool
- Creating a daylight system
- Controlling the mental ray sun and sky
- Using Final Gather and photons, both individually and together
- Working with diffuse, reflective, translucent, and other materials
- Controlling render quality with image sampling
- Working with displacement mapping
- Using proxies