Rendering in Maya

Rendering allows you to export your project into an image sequence so that it can be compiled into a video file in another application (likely After Effects).  There are two primary ways to do this in Maya, via a Batch Render or via a Render Sequence.

Render Settings

The first step using either method is to configure the Render Settings.

1. Open the “Render Settings” dialogue box by either selecting Render → Render Settings within the “Rendering” menu set or by clicking the image6.png icon in the top right of the workspace.

2. At the top there are two options which allow you to choose what and with what to render your project.

  • Render Layer should always be set to “masterLayer”
  • Render Using allows you to choose what renderer you want to use to export your project.  The default is “Maya Software.” If you’re unsure what renderer you are using, leave it as the default.

3. Within the “Common” tab just beneath the previous settings, the first section is “Color Management.”  To ensure that your output matches your previews, the Apply Output Transform to Renderer should be unchecked.

4. The “File Output” section allows you to manage the output naming conventions.

  • File name prefix refers to the name of your file, it should be something that easily identifies your project.
  • Image format is the type of files your render will export as. “Tiff” is a good choice as it is data rich yet reasonably sized.
  • Frame/Animation ext is the scheme your filenames will follow.  The “name_#.ext” option will allow the files to be interpolated in After Effects properly.
  • Frame padding is the number of digits the frame number will be expressed as.  It should be set to the number of digits the last frame in your animation contains. A 400 frame animation would be set to “3” where as a 4000 frame animation would be set to “4.”

5. “Frame Range” allows you to select to render specific portions of your project.  To render the entire project set Start frame to “1.000” and End frame to the last frame in your project.

  • Note: This is useful to have multiple computers render alternating frames.
  • The By frame refers to the increment by which frames are rendered. A value of “1.000” will render every frame whereas “3.000” will render every third frame and so on.

6. Under “Renderable Cameras” ensure that Renderable Camera is set to the camera which you have animated and not “pesp” which would just render the perspective view repeatedly.

  • Alpha channel (Mask) and Depth channel (Z depth) are useful for advanced composting but for most purposes can be left at their default states.

7. “Image Size” allows you to adjust the resolution of your outputted project.  Choosing an option like “HD 720” or “HD 1080” from Presets is correct for most projects.  The presets option adjusts the rest of the section’s settings automatically.

8. The remaining sections, “Scene Assembly” and “Render Options” should be left at their defaults as pictured to the right.




9. The other tabs vary depending on your selection for Render Using and should be configured individually.  If you’re using “Maya Software” it’s best to set Quality to “Production quality.”

Batch Render

A batch render will export your project in the background and allow you to continue working in Maya or elsewhere on the computer.

  1. In the “Rendering” menu set select Render → Batch Render to start the rendering process.
  2. Maya will show the status of your render in the lower right status bar.image1.png
  3. The exported images by default will be in your project directory’s “images” folder.

Note: If using the Arnold Renderer, files created via a Batch Render will be watermarked, to avoid this, render via the Render Sequence Process detailed in the next section.

Render Sequence

Render Sequence will both allow you to preview your frames as they render (similar to the Render View) and render using Arnold without watermarks.

1. In the “Rendering” menu set select Render → Render Sequence → ☐ to configure additional render settings.


2. Ensure that Current Camera is set to your animated camera, it will not necessarily read the setting you configured in “Render Settings.”

3. The remaining options should be left in their default unchecked state.

4. Select “Render Sequence and Close” to begin the rendering process.  A Render View window will appear and show you your frames as they render.  Upon completion your frames will be located by default will be in your project directory’s “images” folder.

Next Steps

You now have a series of images that make up your animation, you’ll probably want to create a single shareable video file.  To do so you’ll need to import the image sequence into After Effects or another similar application to create a video.

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