Seriously, mental ray is stupid. Any renderer that doesnt put out elements or passes is just flawed. While the images it can produce are amazing and the demand is there for people to use it I have to think about how it's being used to understand the system.
In my world the "beauty" image should always be reconstructed in composite from the passes that made the beauty pass. Also various matte and effect passes should be given to the compositers. Pretty much every other renderer allows for this. Vray, Renderman, Final Render, Modo, Fry, Maxwell and the list goes on. Seriously why is this so difficult for maya and mental ray. Max supports it right off the bat so to speak. I'm really annoyed with this "feature". Maya is the other good 3d app... this is a basic production feature and it doenst work? If the world is going crazy then this is one of the signs. Maya 2009 better fix this cause none of the updates for 2008 has inculding ext 2.
Do people just not care about rendering? Yeah I know its diffucult, but everybody seems to love and talk about cg like it's so amazing. Even reviews of 10,000 bc are like "the movie is bad, but the cg is good" ? What does that mean. C'mon. I know I'm ranting but seriously autodesk and mental images should really kick it up a notch I'll meet them half way on photon maps, but passes are something they're going to have to do.