Sometimes, if you move between versions of Maya, you might get this when you go to your render options:
http://whetstonevfx.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/wtf_panel.jpg (http://whetstonevfx.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/wtf_panel.jpg)Seriously. WTF.
Absolutely nothing. This is caused by the new panel layout for Mental Ray in 2009. Whenever you move to another version, Maya freaks out because it can’t find the panels.
STEP 1: Use 2009
This problem specifically comes from trying to go backwards from 2009 to previous versions of Maya. If you are using any of the new features of Mental Ray that 2009 gives you, your Render Globals won’t show up.
If you have the option, open the file in the same version of Maya that you created it in.
STEP 2: Un-Load Mental Ray
For this to work, you’re going to have to be able to open your file in 2009 and re-save it.
Open up in 2009, and switch your renderer to Maya Software. Then, go to Window — Settings/Preferences — Plugin Manager and find the mayatomr plugin, and un-check the box for “loaded” and “auto-load”. Delete all history, save the file, close and restart maya, and save the file again. Ideally, now you can open the file in 2008 or 8.x without running into the blank panel. I’ve found this process works about half the time. Instead of looking for the panels provided by your savefile, the program opens with the default settings.
STEP 3: Import your file
In case step one or two can’t work, this works about 30% of the time. Create a new blank file and make sure the render options work in whatever version you’re using. Then, import the scene file that doesn’t want to play nice. Sometimes, this kicks Mental Ray enough that it’ll give you your options back.
STEP 4: Work Around it
Even though your panels aren’t showing up, you can get to the render options through the script editor by typing in “select miDefaultOptions” in the Mel bar at the bottom of the screen. This works about 90% of the time, but can be extremely annoying. If you want, you can create a shelf icon with the Mel script “select miDefaultOptions” connected to it.
http://whetstonevfx.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/midefaultmel.jpg (http://whetstonevfx.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/midefaultmel.jpg)Make sure to capitalize the D and O
To do this, type in the command in the Mel bar, highlight it, then drag it up to a shelf. Maya will ask you if you want to make the shelf icon Mel or Python. Choose Mel, and you’ll have a handy shelf button for whenever you need it.