CAP 211 - Interactive Design and Game Development

Chapter 43 - Learning Rendering Basics


This lesson discusses basic facts about rendering. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. The ActiveShade window
  2. Render parameters
  3. VUE files
  4. Rendered frame window

The chapter presents a long lecture about rendering. You have rendered several files by now, so some of this is not new material. The only tutorial does not appear until the end of the chapter, and it is not woth doing, so let's try to summarize the facts.

The text talks about the ActiveShade window, which is another view that can be requested in any viewport, with two exceptions: you can't use this view if the current viewport is maximized, and you can't use this view in more than one viewport at a time. The ActiveShade window is like a quick render view of the scene. It's a nice idea, in that you can keep making changes in other viewports, and the changes will update in the ActiveShade window as well. Well, sort of. Trying this out, I found some changes updated and some didn't, which kills some of the joy of it.
Question 1: How does the text tell us to turn off the ActiveShade view?

The text moves on to discuss parameters for rendering. You already know how to open the render dialog box. On the Common tab, Common Parameters rollout, several features are defined:

  • Time output - default setting is a Single frame, but you can select the Active Time Segment (all frames of the scene), a Range of frames, or list specific frame numbers. The last two are more useful for rendering a portion of a scene.
  • Output size - Settings for the resolution of the output, including preset resolutions on buttons that can be redefined by the user
  • Options - We have seen this before, but it has not been defined. Some of the options:
    • Atmospherics - Render or ignore atmospheric effects
    • Effects - Render of ignore other kinds of effects
    • Displacement - Render or ignore surface displacement from maps
    • Video Color Check - checks for colors that are not safe for NTSC or PAL formats
    • Render Hidden Geometry - Render or ignore objects hidden in the selected view
    • Force 2-Sided - Render or ignore the inside of objects; necessary for an accurate render if the inside of an object is visible
  • The text does not discuss the Advanced Lighting option here, but refers us to chapter 28.
  • Bitmap Proxies - Lets you choose to reduce the resolution for bitmaps in the scene, to improve render time
  • Render Output - You have used this before to render to an AVI file. You should be aware of the various output formats that are options.
    Question 2: List three other output formats mentioned in the text. List a venue in which each might be used. (Check the Internet for this information.)

The E-mail Notification rollout hints at a problem we have not had yet. The problem is that a render might take a long time. This rollout gives you a way to send an e-mail message on completion, provided you have an SMTP server to send the message through.

The Scripts rollout provides a place to specify a script to run before or after the render. Scripts are not defined at this point. There are details in chapter 49.

The Assign Renderer rollout gives you a place to change the renderer used for Production, Material Editor, and ActiveShade window. You should do so when you need to, but remember what you have done. It will not help to change the ActiveShade renderer, and not the production renderer, if what you are trying to see is a true preview of what the output file will look like.

On page 1010, the text turns to VUE files. The VUE renderer does not actually render a scene. It creates a text file that serves as a script for 3DS Max. The text explains that you can edit the text file in a standard text editor to change how the scene would be rendered. An example of the contents of such a file is included in the chapter, but no explanation is given of what you would change on any given line, or what effect any change would have. For the purposes of this lesson, be aware that this kind of output file is possible.

The text continues with a discussion of the Rendered Frame Window, another name for the preview window available for a test render, meant to show you elements like shadows that do not normally appear in the viewports. The text goes on for several paragraphs before letting know that this is just another name for the Quick Render window we have seen for many weeks. What's new is the discussion on page 1012 of three buttons on the window.

  • The Save Bitmap button allows you to save a copy of the current rendered frame.
  • The Clone Rendered Frame button opens a second window which is, at first, identical. However, you can make a change in the scene, and render to the new window, while keeping the old one open on screen. This is useful for trying out a change and seeing which version you should use. (You can undo the new change to return to the state of the previous render.)
  • The Clear button clears the current rendered image. This seems less useful, since you could just close the window.

The text mentions the RAM player, which we have seen before. Refer to this section of the chapter for information on its options.

The remainder of the chapter should also be used for reference as needed.