mental ray for Maya 2016

In this post, we introduce the newest features of the mental ray for Maya 2016 plugin that is delivered with Autodesk Maya 2016 and can be downloaded here. Stay tuned for more in-depth posts on the features.

Render Settings Redesign

This version comes with a complete new layout of the Render Settings. Our goal is to make the rendering experience with mental ray straight forward and easy. Settings are greatly simplified and grouped together. Five tabs allow to find settings sorted by topic. For advanced users, each tab provides the ‘Advanced Settings’ mode with more detailed controls to fine-tune the rendering.


The Scene tab contains a simplified render passes system for standard utility passes


as well as MILA Light Path and Matte Pass passes.


A more throrough introduction to the new Render Settings will follow shortly.

NVIDIA Material Definition Language

mental ray 3.13 renders materials defined by the NVIDIA Material Definition Language (MDL). MDL is an NVIDIA initiative to standardize physically based material designs in a common format, see Prepackaged MDL materials can be applied in mental ray for Maya 2016. We will provide you with an introduction on how to use MDL in Maya 2016 and with examples for download in this blog soon.


Light Importance Sampling By Default

Light Importance Sampling is now enabled by default. It gives a significant speed / quality advantage out of the box especially with modern and complex lighting setups, emissive objects, and very many light sources. In addition, new heuristics have been incorporated that automatically determine which light sources in the scene are physically plausible and would benefit from importance sampling. This way, traditional idealized light sources and simple lighting setups can be detected and handled separately, like they may be excluded from importance sampling to retain an overall benefit even though this feature is generally enabled. Custom light shaders are fully supported and will be included in importance sampling if they adhere to physically plausible emission and distribution rules.

Deep OpenEXR

mental ray 3.13 adds support for generating ‘deep’ data and output to OpenEXR files. The resulting image is saved in the DeepTile form of the OpenEXR 2.0 file format, storing additional information of the pixel colors along the Z axis. It is possible to save deep and simple 2D data into different frame buffers during the same rendering.

UV Tiles Optimized

Rendering UV-tiled textures is faster and more memory efficient in this version because it is based on a native mental ray shader. It auto-creates and loads the tile textures into mental ray on demand, making sure that only those tiles that are actually accessed get loaded into memory. The shader is part of a new package called coreutil, which collects essential mental ray utilities and helper functions.

Create Lights menu 

There is a new section in the Create|Lights menu for mental ray lights showing modern mental ray lights in a prominent and easily accessible place.


Object Lights

Using custom geometry to light your scene is now possible with mental ray for Maya 2016. You can assign the new ‘Object Light’ material to your geometry or, with the geometry selected, you can choose ‘Object Light’ from the new mental ray section in the Create|Lights menu. This will turn your geometry into a light.


                           Light bulb model courtesy of David Hackett.

Rendering Bifrost with mental ray

Bifröst is a procedural framework that can create simulated effects ranging from liquid to foam, bubbles, spray and mist. These effects can be rendered using the bifrost geometry shader delivered with mental ray for Maya 2016.

Autodesk published videos on bifrost and showing mental ray rendering at the end of each:

Maya 2016: Adaptive Aero Solver in Bifrost
Maya 2016: Guided Simulations in Bifrost
Maya 2016: Adaptive Foam in Bifrost

XGen hair shading and displacement

Rendering XGen with mental ray has been improved and enhanced with new features.

The default XGen hair shader for mental ray is now xgen_hair_physical. It is based on the mental ray human hair shader mib_illum_hair_x which has been improved with mental ray 3.13. It now adds contributions from indirect lighting to the shading. New parameters have been added to tune the tube shading look and to control the internal color noise effect.

Displacing sphere and dart primitives is now possible allowing for a much wider use-case for these primitives.


Texture Filtering based on Ray-Differentials

For advanced ‘elliptical’ texture filtering in Maya’s file node, we are now using ray differentials provided by mental ray core. This introduces more accurate and artifact-free texture filtering even across ray traced reflections and refractions.
To enable it, select a file node, choose ‘Mipmap’ as filtertype, go to the mental ray section and enable ‘Elliptical filtering’. You can choose between ‘Bilinear’ or ‘Bicubic’ filter mode.

39 thoughts on “mental ray for Maya 2016

    1. nvjulia says:

      The standard utiliy passes work on all scenes. LPE passes are restricted to MILA materials.
      You’ll have to resort to the traditional Maya passes system if you are using other shaders.
      It can be enabled in the Rendering Preferences by checking ‘Show Maya Legacy Passes’.

      1. Karna says:

        Ahh ok tnx for the replay..soo Mila is the future, hope it get bit of user friendly in future update..
        but again love the update Thank you very much!!

  1. kenkeez says:

    Not seeing the ‘Show Maya Legacy Passes’ check box. Trying to understand the depth pass… so was looking for z depth remapped. Is it possible to remap the new standard ‘depth’ pass?

    1. nvjulia says:

      You can find the ‘Show Maya Legacy Passes’ checkbox in Windows|Settings/Preferences|Preferences, choose ‘Rendering’ from Settings list. You should see ‘Mental Ray Preferences’ and find the checkbox underneath.
      It’s currently not possible to remap the new depth pass. This functionality is not yet available in this release.

  2. Rara says:

    Alright, I’m reading and seeing a lot of stuff on this new MDL. But, what is it? Where can I try it out? Has nVidia released a library of these shaders already? Can we try it out? How much overlap it there between MDL and MILA?
    Thank you,

  3. Hi, trying to use MR Satellite with Maya 2016. I’ve installed everything correctly and configured it all, but MR is crashing as soon as it adds the slaves citing the following error:

    MI 2.0 7 MB error: Could not locate MDL shared core library.

    Any idea why the slaves can’t locate the MDL shared core library?


    1. nvjulia says:

      Hi, the mental ray satellite has to match the Maya 2016 version.
      We are not aware that it’s already available for Maya 2016.
      Where did you get the MR Satellite from? Is it matching?


  4. patrick melin says:

    Same problem with Mental ray satellite for maya 2016. I get the mr sat from autodesk account.

    1. nvjulia says:

      Yes, thanks for bringing up the issue. Until it’s fixed, you will have to copy the libmdl library from the mentalrayForMaya2016/bin directory to the satellite/bin directory.
      That should fix the problem!

    1. nvjulia says:

      With 2016 version, we introduce a new, simplified passes system. You can find it in the Scene tab.
      In case you rely on functionality that is not yet available in the new system, the old passes tab can be enabled by checking the ‘Show Maya Legacy Passes’ checkbox in the Rendering Preferences.
      Go to Windows|Settings/Preferences|Preferences and choose ‘Rendering’ from Settings list. You should see ‘Mental Ray Preferences’ and find the checkbox underneath.

    2. Named passes should be easier. Simply select what you want and render. No tedious layer association necessary. It’s also nice because you will be able to make these choices more flexible with less work than before (once complete) You should migrate your workflow to MILA so you can use all of the automatic handling of matte passes.

    1. nvjulia says:

      If you have a Maya subscription, you can download the satellite installer from your Autodesk account.
      Beware that there is currently a problem: you will have to copy the libmdl library from the mentalrayForMaya2016/bin directory to the satellite/bin directory!

  5. Moon says:

    Warning: file: C:/Program Files/Autodesk/Maya2016/scripts/others/mayaBatchRenderProcedure.mel line 618: Renderer returned an error while rendering ‘defaultRenderLayer’, please verify the output image.

    Error Batch Render Rendering!!!!

      1. vivek says:

        hi there ,….in the scene tab…when i tick on anyone of standard utility pass for example :AO….i got the settings releted to ao,and if i tick depth.. i got the settings for depth in the attribute editor..but when i click some where else..they are gone now it hard to find the settings for them…unlike mila light path pass..they have little triange type icon after each lpe…say direct if click somewhere problem i can find those setting releted to direct diffuse by clicking that little triangle..but how to to the same in case standard utility pass… plz help me out.. thankyou

  6. Moon says:

    Installation is a library Fixed a bug on another computer Microsoft Visual C++ 2012 Redistributable (x64) – 11.0.60610

    If this library is not, the error disappears.
    Need more informative error display to the user.
    The debugging process will go faster.

  7. Hi! I have some problem with the new mental ray settings. It give me heavy noise patterns. But with the same settings in maya 2015 (and latest mental ray for maya 2015) I have none.
    What new feature may cause this? Oh and it is slower than the previous version.

  8. Ok.
    I found it. If your data type is set to 8 bit per channel the new mental ray can’t handle it well.
    I saw this type of converting problem in Photoshop as well, caused by different profile usage if I remember correctly.
    I usually use 8 bit for previewing only. Well not anymore.

    1. bgawboy says:

      mental ray hasn’t really changed how it treats 8-bit data, rather the color management pipeline in Maya has evolved. And the integration adopts the new strategy. Please start a topic in the mental ray section, Application Specific, Maya, for more details. We agree if you say you want a blog post prepared to discuss this.

  9. Adam Benson says:

    I’ve tried several times to get the motion vector pass out of Maya and back into Nuke. All I’m getting is a black pass that seems to do nothing for the VectorBlur node in Nuke. It seems like there is not data coming from the Motion Vector Pass in Maya. I’ve even tried checking “Force Motion Vector Calculation” and saw no difference. Does anyone know how to get this to work now? This is a Maya MentalRay to NukeX pipeline.

    1. nvjulia says:

      Have you tried using the new passes system? In the mental ray Render Settings, if you open the ‘Passes’ Section in the Scene tab, you can check the ‘Motion Vector’ pass and the pass will be added to the result OpenEXR file. To check, you can open the motion vector pass from the Render View (File menu, Load Render Pass). Let us know if that helped!
      (Otherwise, you might want to contact us on the forum and send a scene to reproduce your problem.)

  10. I’m a long time legacy Maya user but have only recently joined Subscription. I don’t see how anyone is using Mila shaders in 2016 if they are getting the same results I am… basically as soon as you add a single layer such as glossy reflection etc, renders take a massive performance hit and are grainy as hell compared to Mia shaders.

    Getting the quality equal to a Mia shaders by increasing samples results in orders of magnitude longer render times. I get that Mila offers significant advantages with compositing layers so would like to make use of this, but 20 X render time increase makes this pointless.

    This has been noted on CGtalk & Area forums but its not confirmed if its an individual user problem or something wrong with MR in 2016. Look forward to any forum feedback on this.

    1. bgawboy says:

      Then please join in the NVIDIA ARC forum at, and in the mental ray section in the Maya specific section, please share your scene and the issues with the community there.

      1. Hi thanks for your reply – I’ve posted to the Maya specific MR forum providing test info and a demo scene file…. still waiting for a moderator to approve my first two posts after several days. I guess its not a very active forum :/

      2. bgawboy says:

        Sorry, that was just me waiting on approving your posts, while we were queuing your scene up to look at it. Will reply there in a bit …

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