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To all you Max Renderers...Ever had this issue?

I can't seem to find an answer to this anywhere, so I figured that someone around has rendering experience with very small scale models (as FS cockpits must be to export correctly). The problem I'm having involves Final Gather smearing away all of the details in my model and leaving an incorrectly-shaded, awful-looking image. I've tried adjusting the FG point density, number of rays, etc. and these don't seem to help much at all. Actually, the FG "splotches" that people sometimes complain about aren't even visible until I increase the point density to something crazy like 4 or 5. Using values all the way up to 500, 1000, even 10,000 rays per FG point doesn't fix this issue, and render times exceed several hours which is bonkers for something like this. The weird part about this is that I can see more detail during the Final Gather computation, before the actual renderer comes in and destroys everything.

My first thought was that the model was just too small, so I scaled everything up by 10,000% and attached it all to a box to reset any object scale transformations. This had absolutely no effect. :mad:

These are my settings for FG:

Initial FG point density: 4.0
Number of rays per FG point: 1000
Interpolate over Num. FG points: 100
Diffuse bounces: 6

Render time: ~45 minutes.

The first image below is during FG calculation and the second is the final image.


That actually looks about right for Mental Ray. There's ways to improve that, but unless you have access to a render farm, it's going to cost you a lot of render time more than likely. A few things you could try (off the top of my head): enable GI, set the image precision slider in the render window up a few bumps (for anything other than pre-vis, quality should be 1 at the bare minimum), and try applying a different material type to the model. If you currently have a standard material applied, switch it to a mental ray Arch and Design material, and set the reflectivity coefficient to 0. I might be able to make more recommendations if you attach a screenshot of your render settings directly from 3DS Max.

Alternatively, you could try rendering it with IRay. You'll need to switch all of your materials over to Mental Ray materials in order for them to show up, and you'll need to add either a daylight system or a photometric light to the scene and set the exposure to MR photographic (I would use the outdoor daylight preset and tweak the F-Stop to change the brightness). A few notes with IRay: it will be painfully slow if your Nvidia card is recent enough, so you might need to get a copy of the updated IRay libraries from Nvidia (it's a single DLL. I can dig up the link if you need it) in order to get Max to recognize your it properly. Otherwise, IRay will only utilize your CPU (which will be far slower than Mental Ray). For pre-vis rendering I recommend setting IRay to at least 200 iterations, and use a high ISO setting (around 200 to 300 works well, then raise the F-Stop to correct the brightness back down. This reduces the prevalence of over-exposed pixels for shots rendered with a low number of iterations. Some people call them "fireflies", just fyi). For high-quality renders you'll want to set the iterations to closer to 800~1600. For a scene like this, I'd expect it to take about half an hour to render at 1920x1080. The good news is because IRay actually simulates photons from the light source, it's incredibly adept at rendering anything requiring high levels of ambient lighting or light reflecting off of other surfaces. You'll get much better renders from it than Mental Ray in many cases, especially for any surfaces with blurred reflections (which kills render times in Mental Ray).
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Thanks for the reply, UnitedExpress. I haven't messed around with IRay too much since most resources on the internet and in Max's documentation relate to MR or Scanline. I'll try it out and see if the results are any better.
Ozz, there's a few ways to fix this without sending the render time through the roof when using Mental Ray. Firstly, you need to disable FG Point Interpolation by settings interp. from 30 (default) to 0. This will appear to take longer, but its just rendering the final image in one pass- that will remove the smudge.

I recommend starting here, and playing around.

Initial FG point density: 0.7
Number of rays per FG point: 400
Interpolate over Num. FG points: 0
Diffuse bounces: 1-2

Enable Log. Exposure control under Environment Panel- use this to get your exposure right, do not change bounce number in render panel for exposure adjustments except for harsher/softer shadows. You can also use bounce weight (my personal favourite is 2 bounces + weight of 0.7). Here's a render of another game project I'm working on, it took ~5 minutes to render the full 1080p image:

The material was a default 'grey' max standard material w/ 2-sided enabled. The lighting was a single Skylight, with env. gradient to produce slight colour. Hope this helps, sorry for it being brief but I'm in a rush atm, feel free to drop me a PM for more help on this matter.
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Paul Domingue

Resource contributor
I second Tom. I marked this post for reference. I'm still trying to figure out the renderer in Max 2015 and every little bit helps.
Hello Chaps
Just a remark for those INCREDIBLE virtual cockpits: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!! :wizard::wizard::wizard::wizard::wizard:

My respects for both, awesome modeling! Merry Christmas!

Kindest regards,