Embarassing newbie question...
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 From:  Grendel
"after looking at some of the gallery pics here (especially by Grendel), I am a little (okay, a lot) confused"

I think we can work this out ;)...

You're right MoI is just a modeling program and it uses NURBS instead of polygons to define it's surfaces. As pointed out NURBS strength is accuracy, which lends itself to more mechanical/hard surface objects. Polygon modeling often makes use of a smoothing algorithm to soften the edges of shapes and make them more "organic' or soft. This is not to say that you can't do either in each type, alot of crossover can occur and people naturally lean toward one side more than the other.

As to using MoI I use it for it's strength, mechanical/hard surfaces which lend to easier materials when trying to render them. Most mechanical objects have the same material properties for components and are constant, meaning they dont have freckles and blemishes unless you try to make them appear aged. So how much work goes into after a model is made is very dependant on how good you want it to look. If it's for a quick idea then not alot, if it's for a photoreal prototype add then alot more.

Here is a comparison of two hard surface models, one in MoI and one in Hexagon using polygons(but can be done in Carrara as well). The end render result is the same but the tools used to get there were completely different. Nurbs can be very fast and analytical while polygons are more open to interpretation(creative?) to get the result, kind of like left vs. right brain thinking.

Carrara or many other render software will serve you fine for producing a good image. As for lighting and rendering in Carrara it comes with a large number of scene presets and shaders(materials) use those as a starting point and then experiment with changing the settings. Also as said earlier www.polyloop.net is probably the best site for learning Carrara, but I'm a moderator there so I may be biased a little ;)...

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