Adding realism through plugins or alternate rendering engines


I am wondering what plugins or rendering options there are which could add to the realism of our team’s animation.

Last year our animation group used reactor, a hair plugin, a cloth simulator and 3dsmax’s morphing system for lip sync and charactor studio for body movements to create our best looking animatoin yet. However, in review of our 2003 entry I am wondering what we can do to create a more realistic look.

For instance, though our charactor moved fluidly and his lip movements were believable, he looked almost made of plastic.

I’ve seen very impressive results with Miya, but Im not sure if we are ready for a total software suite change.

Without a very high learning curve, what plugins, rendering engines or other options exist to improve realism?

Thank you!

Lighting is also a very important factor in realism. Adding a skylight + Light T racer and some adv. ray-traced shadows will add much to a scene’s realism, and is very easy to use. The photometeric lights + radiosity solution is very realistic but more complicated, and I haven’t had good results with it. Also, MAX 6 has that built in Mental-Ray renderer which is supposed to be more realistic with both shading and ray-tracing of all kinds, so it’s a good idea to read the documentation on it.

you dont need anything beyond max’s stock renderers to achieve stunning realism (especially now that max 6 ships with mental ray), its all in the texturing and lighting really. lots of tutorials around, i like 3dtotal.

yea, i agree Swando. The only two third party renders i know are FinalRender and Brazil r/s. The problem with that is you have to use the lights they provide in order to achieve a more realistic scene with their renderer. With the PCs we have now, using Max5’s Raytracer would take much longer for us to render.
Also, lighting and type of textures are important factors in making a scene more realistic. Raytracing only works with photometric lighting and raytrace mats (correct me if i’m wrong).
This is important to discuss when our animation team meets.