Here is a tool that’s worth mentioning for 3ds Max and mental ray. This third-party tool, from Artur Leão, is designed to allow you to explore some of the hidden options within mental ray.
These tools are hidden from the User Interface (UI) because they are often fully untested and unsupported features, as such it is always advisable to test them on non-live projects and see if they suit your often very unique, and individual 3ds Max workflows. We choose to hide options such as this o give expert users access to these advanced features for experimenting. As some of the options remain unsupported you can expect that some things may not behave as you expect. However, having this flexibility to try them is hopefully the right decision for all.
So let’s have a look at what ‘mr Options Manager 1.5’ brings to the table.
1. Unified Sampling - Allows you to control the sampling algorithms, meaning, faster AA in heavy scenes with DOF and Motion Blur. Enhances small details and prevents jittering and jagged lines in animations. Below you can see a screen grab of the GUI. (Click on image to enlarge.)
2. IBL (Image Based Lighting) – You are able to illuminate scenes using HDRI's and get exact lighting and sharp shadows something that you may struggle with when using just Final Gather (FG). This produces a similar end-result as to iRay when lighting a scene with an High Dynamic Range Image (HDRI). Below are 3 simple renders utilising IBL with different HDRI's. Notice the shadow detail. (As before, click to enlarge.)
3. Irradiance Particles (IP)– are basically a superhero version of Photon Mapping. IP is an exclusive mode and does not work together with Final Gather (FG) or Photon Mapping (PM).
4. Importons - Are particles very similar to photons but instead they are shoot from the camera ergo it is view dependent. Very similar to the lightcache method in V-ray. Importons do not hold energy values but importance values to the final image, this is one of the reasons why Importons work well in conjunction with FG or IP.
5. Progressive rendering – A similar draw method to iRay’s for rendering. You can define a maximum time and let the image render until a certain quality has been achieved. This method allows you to have an instant feedback on what you are doing without the need to wait for a bucket to go to a certain area of the image.
It’s worth noting that Artur Leão, has added an option that allows all these settings to be embedded and saved into the 3ds Max file for future use and ease.
- You can download the free tool by clicking here.
Finally, you may also be interested in a project that Artur recently worked on, primarily concentrating on lighting and shading. The below Stadium animation is created in 3ds Max 2012, and was a team project involving a strong team. Credits for all involved are at the end of the animation.