Rendering creates a 2D image or animation based on your 3D scene. It shades the scene's geometry using the lighting you've set up, the materials you've applied, and environment settings such as background and atmosphere.
Max includes a Scanline Renderer that is optimized to speed up this process, and several settings exist that you can use to make this process even faster. Understanding the Render Scene dialog box and its functions can save you many headaches and computer cycles.
The Rendering menu contains commands for rendering scenes, setting up environmental and render effects, composing scenes with Video Post, and accessing the RAM Player.
The Render command opens the Render Scene dialog box where you can set output options such as which frames to render and the final image size.
Environment displays the Environment panel, which is used for setting up atmospheric and background effects such as a background color or image, global lighting settings, and atmospheric effects such as Combustion, Fog, and Volume Lights.
The Effects command opens the Rendering Effects dialog box. You use the Rendering Effects dialog box to add rendered effects to an image without having to use the Video Post dialog box.
The Advanced Lighting command opens a control panel where the settings for the Light Tracer, Radiosity, Exposure Control, and Lighting Analysis tools are located.
Rendering to texture, or "texture baking,” allows you to create texture maps based on an object's appearance in the rendered scene. The textures are then “baked” into the object: that is, they become part of the object via mapping, and can be used to display the textured object rapidly on Direct3D devices such as graphics display cards or game engines.
The Raytracer Settings command opens a dialog box for enabling raytracing options, and the Raytrace Global Include/Exclude command opens a dialog box where you can specify which objects are rendered using raytracing and which are not.
The Mental ray Messages Window displays log messages (other than debug messages) generated by the mental ray renderer.
The ActiveShade Floater opens the ActiveShade window, where you can get immediate rendered results. The ActiveShade Viewport command displays the immediate rendered results in the active viewport.
The Material Editor provides functions to create and edit materials and maps. The Material Editor (keyboard shortcut, M) and Material/Map Browser commands open their respective dialog boxes for creating, defining, and applying materials.
The Video Post command opens a dialog box for scheduling and controlling any post-processing work. The dialog box manages events for compositing images and including special effects such as glows, lens effects, and blurs. The Show Last Rendering command immediately recalls the last rendered image produced by the Render command.
The Panorama Exporter command allows you to render a panoramic scene. The Print Size Wizard is a godsend for anyone who is printing images from Max. It relates the current scene to the common paper sizes that printers use. The RAM Player can display images and animations in memory and includes two channels for overlaying images and comparing animations side by side.
Common Rendering Parameters
The Render Scene dialog's Common panel contains controls that apply to any rendering, regardless of which renderer you have chosen, and that lets you choose renderers.
Figure 9-1: Rendering Common Parameters panel
The time output portion details the frame(s) that should be rendered to disk. You can choose a single frame, a series of frames, or even specific frame numbers. This last option may be useful when you want to see only keyframes of your animation rendered out.
The Active Time Segment option renders the complete range of frames. The Range option lets you set a unique range of frames to render by entering the beginning and ending frame numbers. The last option is Frames, where you can enter individual frames and ranges using commas and hyphens. For example, entering “1, 6, 8-12” renders frames 1, 6, and 8 through 12.
The Every Nth Frame value is active for the Active Time Segment and Range options. It renders every nth frame in the active segment. For example, entering 3 would cause every third frame to be rendered. This option is useful for sped-up animations. The File Number Base is the number to add to or subtract from the current frame number for the reference numbers attached to the end of each image file.
The Output Size is fairly self-explanatory, however, a larger output size is directly related to quality which is directly related to the time needed to complete the render. Therefore, if you were making an Internet movie at 320*240, it would be a waste of time to render a higher quality file because of the amount of time it would take to create a larger output size.
If you don't need to create a Custom file size, you choose one of the drop down options that suits your needs.
The Aperture Width indicates the lens you used to take the snapshot or video. If you know what the aperture was, you should enter it into this area.
The Image Aspect and Pixel Aspect relates to the ratio relationship between width and height as well as how the pixels are drawn onto the screen respectively. A Pixel Aspect of 1.0 looks great on a computer screen, but DV uses 0.9. This often looks a bit distorted on a computer screen, but looks great on a TV source.
The Options menu allows additional control over how the file will be rendered.
Atmospherics, Effects, and Displacement are rendered out by default, however, they can take a long time to render. If you want to speed up the render time and render out a quick test, atmospherics can be turned off in the renderer.
On the other hand, items like Force 2-Sided is unselected by default. When a basic shape like a box or a sphere are created, they only have an outside. If you zoom towards one of these shapes to the point that you are inside of it, the inside lacks any color or material. There are ways to modify the shape, and the way the colors and materials affect it to show both the inside and outside. However, forcing a 2-sided render will accomplish this task.
If you completed the box explosion tutorial, you will have noticed that when the box's pieces flip in the air, they disappear. This is a result of the box having only one side. By rendering both sides, a more realistic tumble through the air will be created.