Tutorial – Demystifying Camera Depth Passes in Maya Mental Ray

Tutorial – Demystifying Camera Depth Passes in Maya Mental Ray from JJ Chalupnik on Vimeo.


I’ve always found inconsistencies with rendering certain kinds of passes with Mental Ray for Maya.  Sometimes a good google search isn’t enough, and you still come out asking questions.  Camera Depth is a very important render pass, and while there are several methods to achieve it, I haven’t seen many tutorials do a good job explaining a clear and proper workflow.  Some get close.  Some don’t explain enough.  Some only work in a certain situation.  This tutorial attempts to cover the process of getting it from Maya to AE and into a rendered video, while making it scalable to any project.  Hopefully it is clear and concise for those wishing to learn more!

In this tutorial you will learn of a great method for getting awesome z-depth results in Mental Ray for Maya.

What you will learn:

•  Setting up Render Layers in the Channel Box
•  Setting up Luminance Shaders to view Z-Depth in Viewport 2.0
•  Making adjustments on the fly with your renderable camera
•  Using Render Tokens to keep your renders organized
•  The importance of 16bit vs 32bit projects when working with depth in After Effects
•  Using Frischluft to control your depth of field in post

This tutorial uses Maya 2015, but should work in previous iterations as well.  After rendering you’ll bring the images into After Effects to utilize them. You’ll need the Frischluft plugin Lenscare to do the whole tutorial, but if you’re on the latest and greatest After Effects, you could use the Camera Lens Blur available in the effects menu for different results.  This tutorial does assume some knowledge of maya and mental ray, as well as some knowledge in After Effects.  I would consider this an intermediate level tutorial.  I did not cover additional methods of how to achieve camera depth with Mental Ray, but this method is one I’ve found to give consistent, good results.  If you enjoyed it, or have other questions, please share, like, and comment below.  Thanks for watching and I hope it was helpful!

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