Thats whats in the docs: Mental Ray docs (Maya 2009) Irradiance Particles 3.

7 This algorithm is a novel approach to compute global illumination based on impor tance sampling, which tends to converge much faster to a desirable quality than the existing solutions like global illumination photon tracing combined with fin al gathering. Before rendering starts, importons are shot from the camera into the scene and c ollected as a new kind of particle, called an irradiance particle. They carry in formation about the amount of direct illumination coming in at their position (h ence the name "irradiance") and, optionally, the amount of indirect irradiance i ncident at their position (if indirect passes are enabled). During rendering, th e stored particles are used to estimate the irradiance at a shading point: if ju st direct illumination was collected for irradiance particles, this is equivalen t to one bounce of indirect lighting. The irradiance can also be interpolated from precomputed values at the particle positions. The irradiance particle algorithm simulates some but not all of the indirect lig hting interactions of the traditional global illumination algorithms in mental r ay. For this reason, if irradiance particles are enabled then mental ray will tu rn off the global illumination photon tracing automatically if it was activated. This is a common situation when external applications are asked to generate men tal ray scenes with photon shaders attached, which are needed for importons. Cau stics can be used together with irradiance particles because they are used to ca pture indirect lighting effects that irradiance particles cannot simulate. If bo th final gathering and irradiance particles are enabled then final gathering is preferred and irradiance particles will be switched off automatically. Irradiance particles support a special IBL-style functionality which can be enab led by setting the number of indirect passes to -1. In this case only the enviro nment map lighting but not diffuse bounces are taken into account. If interpolat ion is disabled then only environment presampling map is build and no further pr ecomputation steps are required. If interpolation is enabled then particles are emitted in the precomputation pass in a usual way, but used as interpolation poi nts only. The irradiance particles feature is controlled by scene options and command line arguments of a standalone mental ray. Importons 3.6 Importons are "virtual particles". In some aspects they are similar to photons: they bounce in the scene. There are significant differences though: unlike photo ns, importons do not distribute energy. Instead, they contain a color describing with which factor an illumination at a certain location would contribute to the final image. That way, they provide an information for the rendering core on ho w the computational efforts should be distributed in order to get an image of be st quality with limited computational resources. Unlike photons, importons are emitted from the camera and bounce towards lights, i.e. in the direction opposite to the photons. However, the duality of lights m akes it possible to apply photon shaders to importons. For simplicity reason, me ntal ray does not introduce a new type of shaders but uses photon shaders for im

it removes the discontinuity in the dist ribution of the importons originated from the visibility to the camera function. usability a . they hold a quality which is an importance o f the contribution to the final image. However.Importons are particles similar to photons. in other words. Irradiance Particles Irradiance particles is a global illumination technique which is sometimes super ior to final gather and/or photon mapping in terms of image quality. The default is zero. If set to zero. It allows to dramatically reduce the size (an d thus speed up lookup) of photon maps with a help of the merging within a varia ble merging distance which is determined with the help of importons. As the are not relevant for globillum photon map nearest neighbor lookups. Instead. If enabled. In some cases you may need to use more than a single diffuse bounce. Importons are used as a supplementary mechanism which improves the rendering qua lity and performance. The default value is 0. which means that merging is disabled. However. Traverse Enable this attribute so that importons are not blocked by even completely opaqu e geometry. Instead of energy. Another usage in current mental ray is to improve the qu ality of the globillum photon map. Importo ns are thus a foundation for new view-dependent indirect illumination techniques . Max Depth Controls the diffusion of importons in the scene. Maya docs (Maya 2009) Importons Enable this option to turn on importon emission. importons are discarded once the photon map is created. The default a nd recommended value is 1. for example. or when the Traverse option is disabled. Density Number of importons shot from the camera per pixel. they are stored for all intersections with geometry on the ray from the camera to infinity. which is approximately 1 importon per 50 pixels. they are shot from the camera and traverse the scene in the opposite order.portons as well. The minimum value for this a ttribute is 0. importance-driven sampling. Merge Distance The importons within the specified world-space distance are merged. They are used to during the globillum photon map creation. The importons map is controlled by scene options.02. importons will not scatter on the diffuse bounces. It is used as the primary mechanism to drive the quality o f irradiance particles. importons are shot before photon maps are created. Lower values speed up importon emission but could als o decrease final image quality. when you are using f inal gather. Such variab le merging distance is superior to the existing constant merging distance. This leads to a significantly higher number of importons stored in the scene. The information from importons is used by the kernel for distribution of rendering efforts according to the final contrib ution to the rendered image.

Rays The number of rays shot while estimating the irradiance. importons are shot to the scene from the camera. Rays The number of rays used for the computation of irradiance coming from the enviro nment map. G and B components. For outdoor scenes. One or more passes of indirect illumination can be computed. Irradiance Particles cannot be used in combination with global illumination and final gathering However. Scale Global scale factor applied to the intensity of Values other than the default do not lead to a are useful for artistic purposes. Environment Enables the use of the environment maps for irradiance computation. The defaul t value is 64. Env. Irradiance ca n also be interpolated from precomputed values at particle positions. This attribute is simil ar to the number of rays used for final gathering.nd performance. The default for Env. no interpolation for ey e rays and interpolation for reflections. Interpolate Controls the use of interpolation. then this is equivalent to one bounce of indirect lighting.0. but instead. physically correct rendering but expanded to a color having the s 1. A separate p article map is built for the environment (if an environment shader is present) a nd used during rendering for image based lighting. retractions. Irradiance Particles are used to estimate the irradiance for e very shading point. During rendering. . it specifies the maximum number of rays and delivers better quality than final gathering does wi th the same number of rays. Interpoints The number of irradiance particles used for the lookup interpolation. Data regardin g their hit positions with information on the amount of direct (and possibly ind irect) illumination coming at their position (hence the name "irradiance particl es") are combined into a map. If only direct illumination is collected for irradiance part icles. The minimum value is 2 and the default value is 256. and so forth). Indirect Passes The number of possible passes of indirect lighting. The value is ame R. or interpolate only for secondary rays (that is. If >0. Before rendering. Irradiance Particles Select to enable irradiance particles. the default works fine. The defaul t is always. If =0. Choose among no interpolation. The default value is 0. The default value is the irradiance during rendering. but increase this value for indoor scenes. then Irradiance Particles will only hav e direct illumination information. Rays is the same as the number of Rays set for t he Irradiance Particles option. then a sequence of pa sses is computed to collect the irradiance coming from multiple indirect illumin ation bounces and irradiance Particles would have both direct illumination and i ndirect illumination information. Irradiance Particles are compatible with caustic photon s. interpolating always.

This behavior is consistent with the photon maps option. . The default value 1. The environment irradiance can be further scaled (multiplicatively) if the user specifies a global scaling factor with the Scale option. If the irradiance partic le map is not successfully read from the file. If disabled. mental ray for Maya tries to read the irradiance p article map from this file (unless Rebuild is enabled). Disabling this feature is useful for animations. If the specified file exists. Map File Specifies the map file for the irradiance particle map. mental ray for Maya computes it a nd saves it to a file with the given name. T his option is enabled by default. In addition. the irradiance particle map may lose quality if the objects and camera are mov ing. it reuses the irradiance part icle map that comes from the previous frame rendered. mental ray reads the ir radiance particle map from the specified file. Rebuild If enabled. T he scaling factor is relative because it applies to the environment irradiance o nly. mental ray for Maya computes the irradiance particle map even if a f ile with the specified name already exists. or. However . inaccuracies may show up on the frame image borders. so this is only recommended for fly-throughs. since the partic le map is view dependent.Env. which are flicker-free. Scale Global scale factor applied to the irradiance contribution of the environment.

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