RenderPassManager Important Concepts

There are some points about the way RPManager operates that are important to understand.

A Render Pass is a set of parameters relating to your scene file that defines how 3dsmax will render that scene file. These parameters can include which camera to render from, what objects are visible in the scene, what properties/modifiers/materials are assigned to those objects, which xrefs are loaded, what environment effects are active, render effects that are active, output path, resolution, etc. Through the RPM interface you can create multiple passes, and define the settings for each pass, and then submit one or more of these passes to a render manager, or process locally.

Passes are created and named in the list at the top of the RPM UI, and controlled through the tabs that appear below the main list and Global Parameters group boxes.

Each Pass must have a camera assigned to it, non-camera perspective views are not supported. The same camera can be used for all passes, or each pass can have it's own camera assigned. Camera assignment is via the 'Common Params' tab.

Visibility of objects in the scene can optionally be controlled per pass - and in typical use will nearly always be controlled per pass - and can be be managed in multiple ways depending on your preference and task at hand: by RPM sets, Layers, Layer Sets, State Sets, Scene States, Named Selection Sets, and scripted calls. Visibility sets are assigned by right clicking on the 'Visibility Sets' column of the pass in the pass list.

There are 3 ways to render through RPM: a preview render of one or more passes, a local render, or via network submission. Buttons to render in any of these ways are always visible at the bottom of the RPM UI.

The controls in the 'Preview' tab allow you to reduce the render settings for your preview renders for your passes - ie resolution can be lowered, render parameters set to much faster values (AA, GI settings, etc) - so your previews are as quick as possible to give controlled feedback while setting up scenes.

The Object Property system (the 'Properties' tab) allows you to control the properties of objects in your scene per pass - so you can have some objects visible to camera in pass 1, but not visible to camera in pass 2, or with different materials per pass. Setting up matte passes, shadow passes, GI bake passes can all be done in the same scene.

New for Version 6 is the 'Object Property Overrides', which allows you to control modifiers, texture maps, materials and base object properties per pass; typically this can be used to do things like turn off all the turbosmooth modifiers in the scene or lower the SSS sampling in a Vray shader for a preview render - but it can also be used to control output render properties as well, to (say) replace part of a bitmap name to allow you to reuse shader setups without having to duplicate materials (or just a quick way to modify properties).

3rd Party renderer support:
3rd party renderers are supported by RPManager. Vray is a very popular renderer used with RPManager, and the integration is tight, with specific controls for caching passes and managing the vray frame buffer output.

Network Submission:
RPManager supports multiple rendering managers, from Backburner that comes free with 3dsmax to Thinkbox's Deadline - there is support for loading external scripted network submissions so you can go as far as writing your own submitter for RPM (for example the Deadline support is via external scripts maintained by Thinkbox).