So I'm putting together a broadcast design reel and have quickly realized that my lighting / rendering skills are in the gutter to say the least. I've been using 3D Invigorator Pro for AE but I don't seem to be getting the vivid, reflective renders that I know I can get with Mental Ray for Maya. So I've just been using it to create the 3D models of network logos and the like due to it's seemingly limitless beveling capabilities; I've read Lighting and Rendering by John Birn, the Learning Maya 5: Rendering book that I've had since this version was new. However, I need something more in the line of execution, more hands-on; I went over to the Gnomon Workshop to pick up some of the Rendering DVD's there but I found myself wondering if after lighting all of these scenes, would it be at all relevant for the broadcast design arena. I mean, if I learn how to make an old abandoned church look creepy with Mental Ray, is that going to help me pump out renders like Troika did for the their NFL / NBC promo package ( http://www.troika.tv/casestudies/NFL/page_01.html )? Hopefully, someone out there will understand my dilemma and offer some insight; at this point, any will be greatly appreciated.
Alias/Autodesk has plenty to say for free about mental ray and IBL for reflective materials.
along the lines Of Troika; remember that they probably have a render farm that give them the highest quality passes that are later composited in nuke or shake. the nbc/nfl graphics aren't built in a 3d program alone.