nVidia and mental ray

When mental images was purchased by nVidia, one of the main questions was “Why?” After all, nVidia is a hardware company whose technology helps sell and enhance their own products.

Beyond just the technology patents, there are plans beyond what you have already seen:

About David

I am a VFX artist that specializes in Lighting and Rendering. I spend a fair amount of my time supplying clients with artistic solutions as well as technology solutions. With a background in fine art and technical animation training, I strive to bridge the divide between the artist and technologist.

Posted on July 7, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I can’t even enable the strings features in Mental Ray v3.10 which had to be released as a 3rd party addon for Softimage, while Maya appears to get every update, remember Softimage is a small, some would say “elite” community, your own opinion.

    It appears most peoples minds see only one render “Arnold” (maybe, VRay too).

    • Unfortunately Autodesk has not seen to improve Softimage very much lately. Remember, Autodesk’s largest customers are CAD and Design users. That industry isn’t as visually obvious as animation or film, but it’s much larger and actually more prevalent in your life than you might imagine.

  2. Curious how so ? (I knew I should have become a Architect, it was the math why I gave up :()

    • Think about it. Cars, planes, to tennis shoes, go through a design phase. So companies like Ford, General Motors, Nike, Boeing, Raytheon, as well as building design and durable goods manufacturers use Autodesk products in higher numbers than animation and vfx companies.

  3. I know, the bulk of there revenue comes from their CAD programs. Studios come and go but products and plans, trains & automobiles are always being built.

  4. Hi David! I am / was one of the biggest mr fan. I have read a lot on the mental ray renderer and it always gave me faster results than vray – which we use at work now. And I was very happy when Nvidia bought mental ray, because I thought they would do just what was needed to update it to the year’s standard.
    So I jumped in with big enthousiasm in the MILA interface, made all the secret strings enables in maya, always eager to try the new features of mental ray.
    But the thing is that I realize that I am just the regular or maybe above average user, and all the tweaks and hidden new features in mental ray always confuse me more than in the regular interface…
    The thing is that I have the feeling that refreshing mental ray is such a complex task that it’s going to take many years to Nvidia to make it user-friendly again and a serious tool for freelancers and mid-sized studios. I render maya fluids all the time so I am always rendering with mental ray anyway, but if there had been an alternative I am sure I would had at least tried it… Anyway, what’s my point besides just talking ; ) is that I am always following your developments of the new engine, but it seems there is never something really useful for the average consumer. Yes the new AA methods are faster for geo, but I hope Nvidia will make mental ray more user-friendly soon enough! What are features if we can’t enable or understand them!!
    Thanks for your good work David, I always appreciate your blog (and I like mental ray lol)

    : )

    • User friendly means different things to different users. Whether advanced or not, users want the exposure of different controls.

      A modeler forced to render wants it to be as simple as possible while a pipeline TD wants to be able to plug their own data into the renderer when convenient.

      As for useful for the average consumer, I think Unified Sampling, Native IBL, MILA, texture caching, progressive, and more are very much in line with what the consumer wants and needs. Flexible and simple shading with single quality controls can’t get much easier.

      I think many people confuse the rendering features with integration and exposure of controls. Many features can be better exposed or presented in OEM products. In which case your feedback to Autodesk and other OEMs is where it matters.

  5. TD lingo is not that difficult, although some like to distance them-self from artists\animators, then again I’ve seen, including myself, even if a little difficult, take the dive into understanding the work of a TD, it can be helpful to learn, even if rusty.

    • I usually stand on the gap between the artist and the developer.

      In looking at the comments here about complexity and confusion, what everyone is really complaining about is the integration. Not mental ray.

      Like using the MILA shaders. . .for now they are not integrated which means you are assumed to have some sort of advanced knowledge to test them in an OEM product. Or use an unexposed feature that is not supported in Maya for example.

      So it’s not really about nVidia catching up. . .

      It’s about the integrator catching up.

      Features for an integration product are driven by the customers of the finished product it is integrated into. And in this case that means Maya.

      On the plus side of this, Autodesk and nVidia are working together much more closely than ever before and nVidia now has access to the Autodesk owned plug-in, mayatomr. However, changes and improvements are still directed by Autodesk.

  6. Hello David,
    I have just started using Maya 2014. Just wondering what about the people who have AMD Radeon HD graphic cards. Would they not be able to use mental ray. If they can then how.

    • It’s possible at some point they would adopt OpenCL, but since nVidia is a hardware company and their technologies are used to sell hardware (much like Apple) I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      Typically the technology used to speed up rendering with a GPU has a CPU counterpart. Many of the studios I have worked at use nVidia Quadro cards by default so most of us are already customers.

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