mental ray for 3ds Max 2016

Here is an overview of the mental ray and iray features which were integrated in 3ds Max 2016.

NVIDIA Material Definition Language (MDL)

The Material Definition Language (MDL) is an NVIDIA initiative to standardize physically based material designs in a common format, see mental ray for 3ds Max 2016 is capable of rendering pre-packaged MDL materials. We will create a dedicated blog post to explain how to enable MDL in 3ds Max 2016.

mdl_examples_3dsmax Rendering MDL with mental ray

Light Importance Sampling (LIS)

The new Light Importance Sampling mechanism in mental ray allows to sample the whole set of lights as if it were one single light, placing more samples on the lights that contribute more to the part of the scene being rendered. It is an importance-driven mechanism that is controlled by a simple set of parameters. Both area and point lights are importance-sampled, and there is no fundamental change required in material and light shaders. This mechanism is typically useful in scenes with many lights, but can be beneficial also in other simpler cases.

Light Importance Sampling parameters

Ambient Occlusion, GPU accelerated

mental ray offers a new, efficient, GPU accelerated “mr Ambient Occlusion” render element.

aomr Ambient Occlusion Render Element

aoparmsmr Ambient Occlusion parameters

The “Max Distance” controls the maximum distance of occlusion probe rays (Note: Value 0 for “Max Distance” means infinite distance). “Falloff” controls how much the occlusion fades out with distance.

Displacement Settings

The mental ray and the iray renderers now offer the “Parametric” approximation method which can help to troubleshoot scenes where the “Length” method exhibits artifacts, for example scenes with very regular and flat geometry. This method is available from the “Render Setup/Renderer” tab and from the “Object Properties/mental ray” tab.

Object Properties/mental ray tab – Displacement Settings

The parametric approximation method regularly subdivides each triangle of the surface. The “Subdivision Level” specifies how many times each input triangle should be subdivided. A higher “Subdivision Level” results in a higher triangle count. Each input triangle is subdivided into 4(Subdivision Level) triangles. Note: there is an internal limit of 8 million triangles per object.

Section Plane

The iray renderer offers a new helper object “iray Section”. The “iray Section” behaves similarly to the “Grid” helper and is used to cut off the geometry in the rendered image. Section planes can either cut off the geometry completely (so let the light in), or let the viewer take a peek inside, see “Clip Light” parameter. You can define up to 8 section planes.

sectionplaneiray Section Plane Helper

Texture Compression

The iray “Texture Compression” can save around 75% of texture memory on both CPU and GPU. This is enabled by default. See for details, the level of compression exposed in 3ds Max 2016 is the “medium”.

texturecompressionTexture Compression parameters

Light Path Expressions Improvements

Light Path Expressions (LPEs) for iray have been extended to allow light-specific and object-specific paths.

Lights and objects need to be grouped into layers before they can be referenced in LPEs.

We will create a dedicated blogpost to explain this mechanism.

Irradiance Render Element

The iray renderer offers a new Render Element “iray: Irradiance”:

irradianceRender Element “iray: Irradiance”

irradiance_parmsIrradiance parameters

It is recommended to turn off tone mapping when computing irradiance. By default the irradiance buffer is converted to a heatmap, displaying the lux (or footcandle) values with false colors:

irradiance_bufferRendering Irradiance with heatmap on

Auxiliary Buffers Render Elements: Alpha, Normal, Depth

The iray renderer also offers auxiliary buffers Render Elements (Alpha, Normal and Depth):

auxiliaryAuxiliary buffers Render Elements

auxiliary_buffersRendering Auxiliary buffers

Here is for the tour of the new mental ray and iray features integrated in 3ds Max 2016.

Hope you will find this useful.


15 thoughts on “mental ray for 3ds Max 2016

  1. Dizzy says:

    >>mental ray for 3ds Max 2016 is capable of rendering pre-packaged MDL materials.

    So, how do we make our own MDL materials? Is there some other app that we will need to use? I couldn’t find any information on this on the NVidia website.

  2. Tomek says:

    Iray: Irradiance in 3ds max 2016 is a feature what i was waiting for, but i’m wondering is there possibility to produce renderings in luminance scale. Maybe someone can help me with this issue.

  3. Peter Istrate says:

    Nice features, but after one year, you’ve managed to improve iRay by introducing only those few features ?
    That feels like 100 years behind all other equivalent rendering engines on the market.

    1. Pascal says:

      Thanks for your interest in Iray.

      Please note that not all features of Iray are available when accessing through mental ray, and its 3ds Max integration is primarily controlled by Autodesk.

      For this reason, NVIDIA will come to market with it’s own integration of Iray into 3dsMax.
      check out Iray+ for 3ds Max:

      1. Peter Istrate says:

        Yes, i’m aware of both two aspects. – Autodesk integration was really slow and problematic, or probably it didn’t had a high priority in the development process of 3D Studio Max.
        Glad to hear you have decided to do your own integration.
        It was about time.
        Looking forward to it, now. Again.

      1. nvjulia says:

        Thanks for the scene!
        The link to the forum was in my last reply. Before posting your questions, you need to register by clicking on the ‘Register’ link.
        It will guide you through the registration.

      2. nvjulia says:

        We looked at the scene. The artifacts are caused by the finalgather settings.
        Can you please raise the Initial FG Point Density and lower the Interpolate Over Num. FG Points to 20, for example?

        Alternatively, you can try to use the new Indirect Diffuse (GI) algorithm.

        Hope that helps!
        Best regards

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