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Displacements are one of the truly great, as well as truly painful, features in 3D. They are a magic bullet for creating detailed modeling that otherwise would be prohibitive or wildly heavy. But there is no free ride in life or CG, and displacements are a good example. Challenges arise when you try to get the exact resolution without artifacts, minimize RAM, and preview to facilitate camera animation. Maya has added Feature Displacement as the default method for tessellating the surface intelligently so that triangles are created only where they need to be. The problem arises from artifacts unique to this method, so you should first adjust Initial Sample Rate to capture the detail required, then start Extra Sample Rate at 0 and inch upwards to eliminate noise but retain detail. This differs from the older method of setting explicit NURBS tessellation to achieve detail. Feature Displacement should also help to alleviate the high RAM loads from earlier methods. Finally, to preview results, you need to convert to polygons via Modify, Convert, Displacement to Polygons. The mesh that is created can be only used for previewing, and then it must be discarded or hidden for final renders. If the mesh comes in too large, turn off Feature Displacement in the object's Attribute Editor but check back on render time.

Figure 3.19Figure 3.19

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