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The Z-Depth Render Element provides information about each object's distance from the camera in the current view. Each pixel representing the object is evaluated for distance individually; different pixels for the same object can have different grayscale values. In this render element, objects (or portions of objects) closest to the camera appear as white while those furthest away appear black. Objects between the furthest and nearest points are rendered in varying shades of gray. The lighter the gray, the closer an object pixel is to the camera.

The most common usage of the Z-Depth Render Element is as a control for depth of field in the composite. Depth of field can be challenging to do correctly within Maya, requiring many tweaks and re-renders; using the Z-Depth Render Element in a composite is usually much faster, and allows easier and faster adjustment than trying to get it exactly right within the render from Maya.

Note: Specific objects can be excluded from this Render Element by disabling the Generate Render Elements option in the  VRayObjectProperties node for the selected object(s).





Depth of field applied to composite
using Z-Depth Render Element





Fancy Bullets
  • The Z-Depth Render Element will always be written as a 32-bit channel for multichannel .exr files. Even when outputting a 16-bit multichannel .exr, the Z-Depth channel will be 32-bit while the other channels will be 16-bit.