Before i explain my questions i'll let you know about the software and hardware i'm using*, in case this makes any difference:
- 3ds Max 2009 64 bit (will upgrade to 2010 soon, too sexy to skip)
- Windows 7 64 bit
- Photoshop CS3 (will upgrade to CS4 sooner than max so i can go 64 bit)
The Hardware; 3 pcs with the same characteristics down to the monitors, and some other laptops that manage to run the applications but not used for rendering.
- 6 gb of ram dual channel.
- 2.4 Ghz Core i7 processors.
- Nvidia Quadro graphics card.
*I want to get it done, so any suggestions about new software or hardware i have to acquire are welcome (besides i'll start production in about 14-20 months so theres time to learn new software and rob some banks in the meantime).
0.- Can you mipmap all texture maps? i mean the specular, reflection, normal, etc.. maps (mipmapping a displacement map could be interesting hehe)
1.- I've read/heard that mental ray map manager automatically does the mipmapping of your textures, i'm more than certain that it is not the case for all image formats, but if it does, for which formats does the auto-mipmapping?
2.- If Mr. Map manager does the auto-mipmapping, is it faster to have the mipmapped files done beforehand?
3.- If it is faster, which tools (scripts, plugins, methodologies) and formats are used?
3.b- I've read that theres a format used for games called *.dds, and there are several tools to work with it, can it be used inside 3ds max while rendering with mental ray? (i've seen the Nvidia texture tools page (http://developer.nvidia.com/object/nv_texture_tools.html), but the info there, and the one i've gathered around the net imply that it's used for realtime engines, not for rendering).
Why do i ask this?
Right now I'm rendering using 4096 x 4096 textures in png format for the diffuse, specular, and normal maps for most surfaces and characters in the tests i've done, and this is about as high as i can go with texture sizes before it interferes with my render time.
This is all fine and dandy when rendering for dvd quality animation, but if i want to go over a full 35mm frame at 4K it would be 4096 x 3112 pixels (that's 0,3 megapixels for dvd quality versus 12,7 for 4k quality) i will need bigger textures for closeups and weird camera angles.