Like the idea of the “Match to Live Action” project, BUT wouldn’t the results be highly dependent on the render engine you own?
Not really. I use the standard maya software renderer. Not too much to brag about that render engine. Although you will need a render engine that can seperate your render into the basic passes such as diffuse, spec, and shadow. I think most render engines nowadays can do @ least that. Those are the only passes that I need.
A lot of the project is done in post. I would think the project would come down to your compositing package rather than your render engine. Heck, if you are doing a still, all you need is photoshop!