mental ray for Maya Gains Interactive Viewport Rendering and GI
Although NVIDIA mental ray no longer ships as part of Autodesk Maya, the mental ray for Maya renderer is available as a plug-in directly from NVIDIA, integrating directly into the application and adding interactive viewport rendering and simple global illumination with substantial GPU-acceleration, on top of the previous functionality and compatibility.
Mental ray’s interactive global illumination engine GI-Next needs minimal setup and tuning, and is several times faster than earlier GI methods of similar quality, gaining more speed with a single GPU. It is effective in interactive lighting workflows within the Maya viewport, with Image Based Lighting and procedural environments like Sun&Sky. Modern lighting setups with area lights and emissive materials also render faster.
Selective Light Importance Sampling enables a large number of lights without sacrificing performance. Multiple Importance Sampling speeds up physically-based setups with MDL [material definition language] materials, which render faster because they only contain the material information, leaving Maya to handle the light.
Mental ray supports all Maya geometry types with controllable tessellation quality, and fast motion blur and depth-of-field camera effects with Unified Sampling. Users can render massive amounts of hair, fluids and particles, such as Bifrost liquids and foam. Maya XGen carries out memory-efficient procedural instancing of myriads of elements at render time for massive scenes and crowds, achieving realistic rendering of human hair styles and animal fur with Maya hair and fur.
Photon Mapping is used for sharp, efficient caustics, and cel shading and contour rendering for cartoon and anime productions. High quality displacement mapping includes vector displacement.
For materials and shaders, you may use custom C-shaders or load and use arbitrary MDL definitions and materials. custom shaders for programmable effects make production more extensible. For efficiency, mental handles large resolution file textures by loading on demand only.
A layering workflow is included with layering shaders and a flexible render pass system is built into the shaders. You can also use procedural textures for resolution independent effects and 3D colour or density maps. Volumetric and scattering materials are available for real-world skin rendering and atmospheric effects like clouds or dust
Mental rays supports all of the established Maya workflows with interactive look development and lighting directly in the Maya Viewport or IPR. Users have continuous visual feedback with progressive rendering of final results during scene interactions. You can use light baking with Maya Batch bake to both texture and vertices.
Animators have full animation support of geometry, material, and light parameters. Swatch rendering and real-time material preview is available for mental ray custom shaders and phenomena. The software supports production techniques like Alembic geometry caches, UV tiling and deep data. Users have complete colour management and a HDR pipeline from texture input to image output.
To support productions, efficient Maya Batch rendering is available for final frame animations on all machines. Background rendering of quick batch jobs can be done on the same machine, and distributed rendering on render farms with mental ray Standalone, as well as pipeline rendering control with .mi files.
mental ray for Maya can be downloaded in a free version for creative use or network rendering can be purchased per machine, per year. www.nvidia.com