#305448
Hi all,

Apologies for the multitude of questions, but I felt it would be better than posting in a bunch of different ones.

I've been testing Maxwell out for a few days and used it quite a bit back in the beta days, and hope to use it in production starting this week, but have a few things I'd like to check up front:

questions:

1) In order to get an emitter to light further (i.e. slower falloff, so it reaches further) do you need to increase the size of the emitter or the power of the material? If i need visibly small emitters but powerful light, is the best way to use 2 emitters, one visible (small but with no emitter material) and one invisible (large)? is there an "emitter material" that doesn't actually light the scene, but is bright enough to look like one? is this possible with MAX or do I need to use Studio?

2) What is the best general glass MXM for interior/exterior use? Needs to have reflections, refractions and render reasonably quickly when viewed internally or externally. Or should I be using a unique glass MXM for different situations?

3) should I avoid using instances at all? I've had issues with objects not rendering at all when instanced, and some emitters (mirrored ones) not rendering at all.

4) what is more efficient in rendertimes for displacement - more geometric detail or higher precision value?

5) what is the best file format to export an MXI to to correct white balance? EXR? HDR? What is the best software to handle this in post?

6) what is the best solution for keeping maps stored on a system? use a network path that all scenes point to? I need to render COOP and I'm getting missing maps warnings.

7) is it "safe" to render directly from 3ds max or better to export an MXS and tweak it first? anything that max plugin can't handle that should be done in Studio before rendering?

8) does it always generally take a long time for emitter light to appear in reflective materials? (such as a light reflecting in a pool of water).

9) can MW handle Color Correct materials reliably without issue, and ok over a network render?

10) when rendering a COOP image, is it best to set up the COOP first, or is it ok to just render the same image on 2 machines and merge the two, even if they covered the same SL range? e.g. both machines render an image from SL0 to SL12, then merge, does this produce SL24 or just a less noisy SL12? Or do I need to render the image on one machine from SL0 to SL12, then render on the other machine from SL12 to SL24 and merge?

11) apart from emitters, what are the common features of a scene that can slow down a render? displacement? reflectivity of materials? physical sun? do they make much of a difference as with other renderers? any general rules of thumb for keeping rendertimes down? (apart from keeping Ref 0 RGB <240, using small and lowpoly emitters etc.)


Again, sorry for the long list but I'm bashing out work for a big project and don't have too much time to test and find out some of these things, hoping someone else might be able to answer for me.

Cheers,
#305694
1. Emitter size will effect the softness of shadows, larger = softer. To get the light to travel farther with less noticeable falloff, either increase intensity or model an emitter housing to focus the light. Really, the best advice is just to think about how it works in the real world.
#305700
7. I don't know about 3dsMax but for my taste the (cinema) plugin covers very much of the maxwell functionality and therefore I never use Studio. If I remember the beginning the max users always had a better plugin than the cinema users. if this is still the case - use the plugin and forget studio. If something doesn't work the way it's supposed to - you can still give it a try in Studio. I haven't used Studio in a long time (>1 year) because the plugins are that fine by now.
#305706
3) Some geometry imported from different Architectural environments may be affected at render time if they are rendered as instances. By affected I mean in wrong positions. 3D max uses the power of voodoo modifiers to propertly import them and as a result, even Mental Ray ignores the support of instancing and renders them as normal geometry.

If you see your rendered geometry floating around, uncheck "Use Instances" in renderer options. Details.
#305973
2) What is the best general glass MXM for interior/exterior use? Needs to have reflections, refractions and render reasonably quickly when viewed internally or externally. Or should I be using a unique glass MXM for different situations?
If you don't necessarily need refractions (for a thin glass window it's in many cases not necessary) you can use 'AGS' instead which gives you reflections but doesn't refract the light. Do a search for AGS, it will become pretty clear what it does and why you should use it to save some render time.
4) what is more efficient in rendertimes for displacement - more geometric detail or higher precision value?
More detail in the original geometry. This way you don't have to raise the precision value very much. Maxwell can deal with many polygons without a problem so always best to subdivide a bit the geometry you intend to use displacement on.
5) what is the best file format to export an MXI to to correct white balance? EXR? HDR? What is the best software to handle this in post?
HDR will do fine, I guess any 2D editing software you're comfortable with. Photoshop has some plugins that make this easy for you, I suppose also others.
8) does it always generally take a long time for emitter light to appear in reflective materials? (such as a light reflecting in a pool of water).
Depends on the scene and how complex the lighting is, usually reflections of emitters appear pretty fast. Maybe you mean caustic light seen through a refractive material?
10) when rendering a COOP image, is it best to set up the COOP first, or is it ok to just render the same image on 2 machines and merge the two, even if they covered the same SL range? e.g. both machines render an image from SL0 to SL12, then merge, does this produce SL24 or just a less noisy SL12? Or do I need to render the image on one machine from SL0 to SL12, then render on the other machine from SL12 to SL24 and merge?
Whether you set up a coop render using the Network rendering, or do it yourself manually and then manually merging the MXIs, it's the same result. Coop render means several computers work on the same image at once, so if one computer took 10 hours to render to SL 18, then 2 computers will take around 5 hours to render to SL 18 the same scene. When merged, the SL won't double, it will be the combined SL reached depending on how many MXIs you merge. As the SL increases so does the time to reach the next SL, almost exponentially. If it took 30 seconds to go from SL 1 to 2, it would be great if it also took 30 seconds to go from SL 16 to 17.... :)
11) apart from emitters, what are the common features of a scene that can slow down a render? displacement? reflectivity of materials? physical sun? do they make much of a difference as with other renderers? any general rules of thumb for keeping rendertimes down? (apart from keeping Ref 0 RGB <240, using small and lowpoly emitters etc.)
Use AGS for windows instead of real glass if you don't need refractions
Displacement will slow down a render, it depends mostly on the precision setting and secondly the height. Larger displacement>more render time, but precision is the most important setting, that's why it's good to have a pretty subdivided initial geometry.
Try to keep the scene reasonably within the bounds of what the camera sees, ie if you're trying to render one house in a neighbourhood, don't build your scene consisting of 50 houses that spans several kilometers. It will add to the render time because Maxwell has to calculate the lighting for everything. So if you think something in the scene is too far away to have any influence on the lighting of the portion of the scene that your camera sees, just hide or delete it from the scene.
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