It’s that time of year again to look at what’s changed in mental ray. While many things are available in mental ray some things may need a GUI to access. GTC showed a possible UI solution to use advanced preview features.
But first you might want to welcome mental ray’s official blog to the blogging world just posted previously:
“Inside mental ray”
NVIDIA has been hard at work on the plug-in with Autodesk support. You’ll likely notice plenty of changes in this version of Maya and this should be nothing compared to the development that’s coming. These UI examples along with demonstration were shown publicly at GTC.
Things to note in 2015:
- The Layering Library is now included with Maya 2015. These shaders should become your daily driver for all your tasks. These will continue to evolve. Tutorials to follow here as well since these have been updated quite a bit since discussed here previously. These shaders are based on the Material Definition Language.
- Ambient Occlusion on the GPU is integrated into the Maya framebuffer system.
- Global Illumination on the GPU is included but not exposed. This feature is in progress. Look for a tutorial coming soon!
- Improved “brute force” final gather that converges more quickly, especially when using fewer rays and Unified Sampling
- Ptex is now handled natively in the Maya file node. Simply open or attach a Ptex file. (Bump not supported since it relies on UVs. Use normal maps instead.)
- Tiled Texture workflow (known as udim or tiled UVs) is now supported natively in the Maya file nodes with options for Mudbox, Zbrush, and Mari conventions. Make sure to use texture formats that support Texture Caching for the best performance!
- The render settings UI gets another small facelift by defocusing rarely used controls. Work here is ongoing.
- The Environment Lighting mode (Native IBL) is now integrated into the Maya IBL system
- Improvements to Progressive Rendering and stability in Maya. Note that this feature is more complete in 3ds Max 2015 than Maya right now.
- mental ray now uses Open SubDiv from Pixar.
- Improvements to built in object lights including fixes.
- Vastly improved Light Importance Sampling (Light IS) that now handles all light types from point sources to object/mesh lights both textured and not textured (not yet exposed in the UI). Scenes with many lights now render much faster (in some cases less than a third of the original time) and with less noise. A simple “Quality” control is provided for overall control.
- The render viewport has updated controls for color space and viewing.
- Shader ball updates are improved and more interactive.
- Fast frame preview for non-progressive renders
mental ray also supports OCIO. This should make it easier for artists to use linear color workflow in the future.
What does the further future hold? As Maya catches up to existing features in mental ray, you can expect development to move forward more quickly with features reaching Maya at the same time as mental ray.
After some careful thought and a lot of tedious work by developers Brenton and Corey (mental core), you can find a Maya Render Settings UI for testing. Barton Gawboy is project management. The purpose of this UI is to provide a more official/intended workflow for mental ray. This also means makers of UIs for other packages can use this as a template for features on modern mental ray (3.10 and future).
This UI is in an early phase and should not be used for production. Currently the Quality settings have been re-worked to provide a simpler interface and a modern workflow for using mental ray in Maya. Over time we will be improving on this (light and passes tabs to be re-worked) and adding documentation. We recommend Maya 2013 SP1.
You can find the scripts on the Google Code page: Maya Render Settings UI
A further discussion can be found on the ARC forum (must be a member): Maya Options UI
Since the integration of mental ray in Maya may obscure modern workflows, many of the posts here explain how to make the correct choices. But typically we assume some prior knowledge of Maya and mental ray.
We will begin a series soon on how to make modern choices and avoid pitfalls in the UI (like the default absence of shadows, no passes with materials unless using the *_passes materials, etc).
If you have experience where you have had difficulty tracking down a problem only to discover it was a checkbox or some other snafu, leave that here in the comments with a short description. We can use this information to make new users more efficient and help refresh the rest of us too. We will try and include this in sections explaining basic scene setup. Our cheat sheet for quickly rendering.
If you are a developer, it might be helpful for you to see where some defaults could be changed and alter the corresponding .mel in your installation to make a new default.
Please keep the comment factual and tidy. We reserve the right to edit it to the essence of the problem. 😉
My passes kept rendering black using the mia_material_x. I discovered I should upgrade them to the mia_material_x_passes shader.