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Share your mental ray workflow (for compositing).
show user profile  Nanne
Hello mates, I would like to get some inside tips from you guys that work with mental ray for production. Especially for compositing.

I usually work with short animations and I generally break them up in render passes; typically:
1. Background(environment, like the sky and clouds, very distant objects etc.)
2. Objects in the area around the character
3. The character himself.

I render these to OpenEXR (half-float) with Gamma 1.0 and no Exposure Control and 32-bit Float Frame buffer. The problem is that I very often get white specles in reflections or refractions due to that the different in brightness between some pixels are so high since there is no clamping of values. I always have a hard time fixing those specles, I've tried blurring them or adding glow but so far not so good, it usually gets added to the whole image and everything gets blurred and glowing. Perhaps it's me, maybe I haven't figured out the correct settings for it yet (I'm using Autodesk Composite).

How do you work? I've seen some very impressive mental ray renderings here. Like from rob@dynamic. Share your wisdom of mental ray, I'm sure more then me can benefit from it :)

Kristoffer Helander
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read 595 times
9/20/2011 4:51:23 PM (last edit: 9/20/2011 4:51:23 PM)
show user profile  Nik Clark
I render the objects, and mattes for them as separate passes. As well as this, I do the shadows and ambient occlusion as separate passes, all saved out as an EXR. I use Composite to put them all back together.

read 590 times
9/20/2011 4:58:10 PM (last edit: 9/20/2011 4:58:10 PM)
show user profile  mrgrotey
Nik: When you do a shadow pass obviously you dont render the shadows with the main image so how do you go about that? just untick shadows in the common tab? I really need to learn post better.

read 576 times
9/20/2011 5:46:46 PM (last edit: 9/20/2011 5:47:28 PM)
show user profile  Nik Clark
Quite right! I render out a beauty pass, which doesn't contain shadows, highlights or reflections, and comp this in.

read 569 times
9/20/2011 5:56:10 PM (last edit: 9/20/2011 5:56:10 PM)
show user profile  Nanne
That sounds awesome Nik, but how do you render a beauty pass without shadows, highlights and specs? I never got that to work. Could you explain that in a bit more detail?

Do you render with or without exposure control? Are you using 32 or 16bit Frame Buffer? Do you have problem with the specles in reflections/refractions, how do you solve that?

Kristoffer Helander
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read 557 times
9/20/2011 11:16:55 PM (last edit: 9/20/2011 11:25:33 PM)
show user profile  Nanne
Anyone else have something to add? :) There has been a lot of reads but not so many comments...

Kristoffer Helander
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read 473 times
9/22/2011 3:56:14 PM (last edit: 9/22/2011 3:56:14 PM)
show user profile  Nik Clark

I will get back to this thread asap. I'm super busy at work. I keep meaning to document my basic use of Composite for others.

read 468 times
9/22/2011 3:59:34 PM (last edit: 9/22/2011 3:59:34 PM)
show user profile  Nanne
Cool Nik! :D I'd loved that! But take your time mate :)

Kristoffer Helander
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read 463 times
9/22/2011 4:21:03 PM (last edit: 9/22/2011 4:21:03 PM)
show user profile  reeves1984
I would have always max to be MISSING a proper render pass manager type thing, is this still the case?

So difficult with terminology mind you. What one wants is something where you can overide ANYTHING on a certain pass, hide objects, turn off visible to camera, swap materials etc. etc.

xsi = Passes
maya = renderlayers

then you have render elements (in max)
xsi = framebuffers
maya = passes (? I think, also vray uses 'render elements')

confusing eh

My housemate uses max and he was saying about using scene states.... :s

Simon Reeves - VFX Artist & Blog
twitter <-- I work here

read 456 times
9/22/2011 5:10:49 PM (last edit: 9/22/2011 5:10:49 PM)
show user profile  Nanne
I found Scene States to be a bit iffy, especially when you want to updated them or add new objects. That was kind of tricky. The 2012 subscription advancment pack that should be out soon, has got a new render pass system, it's kind of an extension to Scene States, I'm very excited! :D And it creates a After Effects composition and likes the Max Scene and AE Project together for making changes and updates, pretty cool. It's availible as a plug-in to other versions as well, knowed as ZooKeeper.

Here is a presentation:

Here's a FREE script that does an excelent work, I use it every day at work, it's amazing! :)
LPM Pass Manager
(It also supports V-Ray Object Properties)

Kristoffer Helander
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read 447 times
9/22/2011 7:15:18 PM (last edit: 9/22/2011 7:15:58 PM)
show user profile  Nanne
Hey Nik, how's it going? :) Still much do to at work?

Kristoffer Helander
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read 391 times
10/1/2011 9:38:10 PM (last edit: 10/1/2011 9:38:10 PM)
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