The Layering Library in Action


The Layering Library (MILA) shaders are currently in Beta and are not designed for production use. However, here at The Mill in LA, we spent some extra care (and time) in the lookdev process to use the MILA shaders in a commercial spot for Norfolk Southern.

You’ll see many trains rendered using the MILA library for mental ray.

Feedback was very positive and we were able to better layer effects on objects with different material types and labels easily all while keeping render times under control (some complex 1080HD frames with motion blur were about 2+ hours a frame with brute force settings and the Environment Light) Artists also found the glossy reflection much easier to handle and faster to use than the mia_materials.

One artist said of their experience with the MILA material, “I will never use the mia_material again.”

Take a look at the spot below.

About David

I am a VFX artist that specializes in Lighting and Rendering. I spend a fair amount of my time supplying clients with artistic solutions as well as technology solutions. With a background in fine art and technical animation training, I strive to bridge the divide between the artist and technologist.

Posted on May 10, 2013, in Example, shaders and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Impressive work guys!

  2. I’m ashamed to ask this question, as I work in the industry,… but which trains are rendered and which ones are real? 😀

    • Don’t be ashamed, I had to ask on a few shots as well. 🙂 I didn’t work directly on the project. If I can get a breakdown I will try and post one. In most cases there is a mix of real and CG trains.

    • If you can’t tell the real trains from fake, then we did a good job.

      But for example, the trains passing each other at 0:10, that shot is CG. The pull out shot at 0:51 is all CG and matte painting, etc. At 0:13 only the center train is real (all else and background trains are CG) And some more. . .

      • When I first watched the video the only train I knew was CG was the one at 0:51. I suppose I have a better eye then I give myself credit for or maybe it’s knowledge of CG that helped acquire that knowledge.

        One out of three shots I could tell were CG, that only proves that it was done next to excellent 🙂 Even if I could tell all were CG, I’d still say it was excellent, win, win 🙂

  3. “Hooking up the country, helping business run ..” I just can’t get it out of my head … THANK YOU VERY MUCH ! On top of that, it just seems impossible to have access to this holy library .. That’s pure cruelty.

  4. Wow! Cool work! It has passed few shots before I realize trains where CG. 😀

  5. The song in the commercial is from here

    (I remember when I was a kid :))

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