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Re: Revit 2009 / Mental Ray Workflow...
EXAMPLE OF THE ISSUE:
Here's an example of the workflow stoppage: Let's say you're rendering an interior kitchen with lots of cabinets. You have a few dozen cabinet pieces, each assigned with a material called "Cabinet Finish". You're not sure what material you're going to use, so you want to try out a few custom MR Materials.
Under Revit 2008 (AccuRender), you would go to the material dialog, you select the material that's been assigned to your cabinets (e.g. "Cabinet Finish"), select the AccuRender Texture field, and select the AccuRender Material you want to use – either from the default library, or your own custom library, or by setting one up on the fly. If you want to try a different one, simply re-select your "Cabinet Finish" material in the material dialog and assign a different Accurender Material to it. The whole AccuRender Material library dialog is a bit outdated, but none the less, with a few mouse clicks, it's pretty easy to switch materials.
Under Revit 2009 (Mental Ray), you've got a problem. There is no custom library to access from the material dialog – only the default library provided. There's no way to add your own custom MR Materials to a shared library (only to your current project). Okay, so you look through the default library, but you don't find the exact wood grain look you're going for, so you cook up your own with a custom jpeg, and bump map, and you mess with a few settings. You do your rendering and decide you're not sure if it's quite what you're after. So you decide to try something else. You have one of two options. You can cook up another custom jpeg, bump map, etc. overwriting the old one. In which case, if you then want to go back to what you had before, you have to set it up all over again. Or, you can create a new (or duplicate an existing) Revit Material in the material dialog and setup your custom MR Material assigned to that. But now you're going to have to go through your model reassigning materials to a few dozen cabinet pieces. Try doing that a few dozen times on a bunch of projects, each time setting up materials from scratch or having to go through dozens of elements changing them from one material to another. See how much fun that is?
Here's a similar problem: You set up the Render Appearance for your "Door" Revit Material and now want to use the same Render Appearance for your *existing* "Window" material. How do you do it without re-setting it up or going through all your windows and re-assigning them to a different material? And then you decide you need to do the same thing with your "Trim" material. And after setting up all three of those materials, how do you then replace all three with a different custom MR Material without laboriously setting up new custom MR Materials? Now we're really having fun!
Okay, enough (for a moment) about what a mess this is, what features are lacking, and how the Factory seems to have so little understanding of rendering workflow. What are the workarounds?
There's one main approach I'm aware of... and it's been noted elsewhere, so I take no credit (or blame)...
This is also a case where the cure might be worse than the disease... only time will tell...
Edit: I've attached the templates as rvt and rfa file types, but it might make sense to rename them as template files rte and rft.