Multi Pass Rendering and Compositing in 3ds Max and After Effects- Part 1

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Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Open 3ds Max. Draw a plane in the perspective viewport.

Open 3ds Max
Open 3ds Max

Make a teapot and put it on the plane.

Make a teapot
Make a teapot 

I’ve applied several lights in the scene. I’ve chosen Ray Traced Shadows as the shadow.

Ray Traced Shadows
Ray Traced Shadows

Press M to open the Material Editor. Select an empty slot. Click on Reflection channel.

It opens the Material/ Map Browser. Select Raytrace and click on OK.

Material Editor
Material Editor

Apply this material to the plane.

Apply this material to the plane
Apply this material to the plane

Increase the Specular level and Glossiness of the teapot.

Increase the Specular level and Glossiness
Increase the Specular level and Glossiness

Render the scene. You get one rendered frame. In this rendered frame, you get Diffuse Color, Shadow,Specularity and Reflection.

Right now, you can’t control individual channel. It will affect the entire frame. You’ll need to render each and every pass separately.

Render the scene
Render the scene

Press F10 to open Render Settings window. Click on Render Elements tab.

Render Settings
Render Settings

Click on Add button. It opens Render Elements window. Select Diffuse and click on OK.

Render Elements
Render Elements

Following the same way, click on Add button and add Reflection, Shadow and Specular.

Add button
Add button 

You have successfully added these 4 passes in the Render Element list.

Render Element
Render Element 

With Diffuse pass selected, click on Browse tab.

Browse
Browse 

Save the file as Diffuse.TGA.

TGA
TGA

It opens Targa Image Control window. Choose 32 Bits-Per-Channel option. Click on OK.

32 Bits-Per-Channel
32 Bits-Per-Channel 

Following the same way, save the Reflection, Shadow and Specular files in TGA format.

Save the Reflection Shadow and Specular files
Save the Reflection, Shadow and Specular files

Click on Render button.

Render
Render 

You will get 4 different rendered frames for each individual pass.

Passes
Passes

This is Diffuse pass.

This is Diffuse pass
This is Diffuse pass.

This is Reflection pass.

This is Reflection pass
This is Reflection pass.

This is Shadow pass.

This is Shadow pass
This is Shadow pass.

This is Specular pass.

This is Specular pass
This is Specular pass.

Open After Effects.

Open After Effects
Open After Effects.

Import all passes inside After Effects and put them on the timeline in order.

Import all passes inside After Effects
Import all passes inside After Effects

To get all passes at the right place, you need to put them in order. Keep the order of the passes as shown in the following image. With the Reflection pass selected, change its blending mode to Screen.

Blending mode and proper order
Blending mode and proper order

Now you get the final composited scene.

Now you get the final composited scene
Now you get the final composited scene

The beauty of this process is that, you can control each individual pass separately. If you want your shadow a bit light, you can decrease the Opacity value of the Shadow layer, and it will affect the shadow only. All other layers/ passes will be unaffected.

Opacity
Opacity
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If you want to make the reflection blurred, just apply Gaussian Blur effect to the Reflection layer. Play with the blur value, and it will affect the reflection only.

Apply Gaussian Blur
Apply Gaussian Blur

Multi pass rendering and compositing is a great time saver technique. It not only saves the time, but also enables the compositor to work more efficiently and independently on the compositions.

In the next part of the tutorial series, I’ll show you some more important passes in 3ds MaxRLA, RPF andOpen EXR format which make the compositing process even much better.

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