Buy Vray For Maya
VRay is amazing at volumes, but the standard behavior is a little confusing if you assign a vrayEnvironmenFog to an object via the volume slot on a shading group. It'll render happily as long as the camera is outside the shape, but disappear once its inside. Vlado on the forums hinted it was possible to do, these are the steps. Basically you apply it as a global fog, then constrain it to a shape using the envfog as a set:
buy vray for maya
It's SO much better than maya's render view, which should surprise no-one. When working with floating point, high intensity lights, its really important to be able to check your work at various exposures, with and without a curve, a lut, and do it quickly. Vrays' framebuffer lets you do all this. A minor annoyance is that maya insists on popping the render view up each time you render, I just slide it nearly offscreen so it stops bothering me. Also lets you easily see all the render elements you're creating, which is nice. Which leads to...
If you have any crazy sized, exr's (I'm currently loading 5 14k exrs for a skyline projection, beat _that_ ), convert them. Makes vray much happier. Under windows its a nice little gui that can batch process: start -> all programs -> chaos group vray -> tools -> image to tiled multiresolution exr converter
Distressingly easy to use. Found it funny that maya had a harder time throwing around the bounding box version of a crowd, even instanced, than vray had rendering it. Why you suck so hard at lots of transforms maya? WHY??
If you've only ever used mentalray, vray feels like mentalray done right. It's as tightly integrated into maya as mentalray (prman always feels like a bolted on thing), can be tuned and fiddled like mentalray if you like to create light caches and precompute blah blah, or can put it into brute force mode like arnold and just path trace all the things. The standard material is similar to the mia material but much easier to use, volumes are dead simple and fast, has actual working aov's/eoc's/render elements that are a no brainer to setup. It also ships with a cuda/opencl accellerated renderer called vrayRT, which is integrated with maya's IPR mode, good for fast tweaking and lookdev. The forum at chaos group is lively and helpful, builds are released almost every day, the devs are visible and engaged.
Type vray into the search box to narrow down the list of available plugins then click load and autoload for both vrayformaya.mll and xgenVray.py and close the dialogue window
Locate your Vray standalone shortcut (e.g. Go to Start Menu->All Programs->Chaos Group->V-Ray Adv for [insert typical software name and year/version]->Tools->V-Ray Standalone command prompt) or use the command prompt and navigate to the directory which contains vray.exe. 041b061a72