Saturday, 31 January 2015

How to Make a Batch Render in Maya and Create a Movie File

A teapot
How do you make a Batch Render of your frames in Maya? Remember that when it comes to technology, things rarely go to plan.

Google is always your friend when it comes to troubleshooting technical problems. Someone out there will have the answer - if you can just ask the right question.

Below is a technical cheat sheet that should help you to create beautiful, final rendered images - and a movie file - without too many tears.

What is our goal?
The purpose of this technical brief is to show you how to create a batch render of the textured, lit images in your Maya scene.

That is to say, you need to generate a series of rendered images which can be turned into a movie file, such as a QT or AVI.

There are two parts to this: Part one is to create a “batch” of rendered images. Part two is to turn these images into a movie file.

Rendering basics

What is Rendering? Rendering is "where everything starts to go wrong". There are two kinds of renderer:
  • Scanline renderers: (eg Maya). They are cheap and fast.
  • Raytracers: These are higher quality but expensive and slow.
Which Ray tracer she we use? In Maya, we generally use Mental Ray (at least up until Maya 2017, which has now ditched Mental Ray in favour of Arnold).

Mental Ray - free with Maya

Work Method

Part 1 - Making a Batch Render

1. Check your plugins to make sure you have Mental Ray installed. Go to Window/settings/prefs/plug in manager. Scroll down and make sure maya2mr.mll is loaded.

2. Click on render preferences and check the settings. A window titled render settings should open up.

3. Under render settings, check the path (ie where the images will go) to make sure you have set your project correctly. Your rendered images should go into the images folder of the current project.

4. At the top of the common render settings tab, specify file name – eg Bouncing Ball. Under Color Management, make sure that "Apply Output Transform to Render" is ticked on.

5. Under Frame/Animation.ext:, select name.#.ext

6. Under image format: select tiff

7. Check your start & end frames. These should be the exact frames you want to render.

8. Set Frame Padding to 4

9. Make sure you render from the correct camera. Under renderable camera: go to Shot_Cam.

10. Set your Image size to a 16:9 aspect ratio. We suggest HD: 1280x720 pixels

11. Render using Mental Ray

Editing software: Premiere
12. Click on the Quality tab, set Quality Preset to: Production Quality.

13. Now...instead of the Animation menu (top left) switch to Render menu

14. Go to render/batch render/options. Use all available processors, hit batch render and close.

15. Maya will start rendering your frames. Monitor the results at the bottom of the screen. It will take a few minutes to render.

Part 2 – create a movie file.

1. Now open up your editing software, using either Final Cut (for Mac) or Premiere (for a PC). There is a video here which shows you how:

2. You can also use Quick Time Pro (very simple software, costs just $30)

3. If you have Quick Time Pro, go to file/import to import the frames. In Final Cut, create a project, name it, and drop your rendered images into a bin,

4. In Premiere, create a project, name it, and go to file/import. Select the first rendered image and tick the box which says “image sequence”. Premiere will import your images. Drag the images into your timeline.

5. Check that the images are OK, and play sequentially with no errors.

6. File/export your images as a QT or AVI file.

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