Mental Ray Q&A

Hi mental ray users and lovers,

Even though the Mental Ray Forum has disappeared recently from the web, we are here to help you with issues you might have with the Mental Ray plugins or the Standalone. Just ask your questions in the comments and we will try to come up with an answer in a new blog post.

For example, I wonder if and how you are using the GPU capabilities in Mental Ray, like the “GI Next” Global Illumination acceleration, or the fast GPU mode of Ambient Occlusion?

We are also interested in art work and renderings done with Mental Ray that we would love to highlight on this blog.

Happy to hear from you,

Steffen

New Unlimited Mental Ray Satellite / Standalone

Hi all,

we have very pleasant news for those of you who are frequently rendering on remote machines using Mental Ray Satellite that are connected and controlled from a Maya or 3ds Max plugin:

The Mental Ray Standalone does not require a license anymore.
It is completely free to use on any number of machines.

This is a great extension for users of the Mental Ray plugins who depend on network-distributed rendering for more rendering throughput. It is also lifting any restrictions for usage in a render farm when running from the command-line or managed by a render job manager like Backburner.

What is Mental Ray Satellite rendering?

Unlike starting separate render jobs in a render farm, the Satellite rendering mode allows to connect remote machines in the internal network to your main Mental Ray rendering engine, so that they take over the heavy part of rendering the image or animation without stressing your main machine, which is already busy running your DCC tool. You can continue working with Maya or 3ds Max in the usual way, since Mental Ray is handling the data distribution and network communication under-the-hood. Naturally, the network speed and machine configurations have great impact on the overall experience and a fluent workflow.

In Maya, the satellite mode can be enabled selectively for preview rendering in Render View, and also for batch rendering in the background. However, progressive rendering is not supported in this distributed mode. That makes it less useful in the interactive viewport rendering with Mental Ray, although it’s generally possible to enable it there too. You have the option to let Satellites do ALL the rendering remotely, freeing your main machine from any rendering load (perfect for a background batch render), or set them to contribute to the main rendering as needed (like for a quick preview render).

Otherwise, there are no limitations on the number of machines or CPU cores that can be utilized, different to the original Satellite mode in Autodesk products. However, technically, the overall benefit for rendering may decrease at some point when too many remote machines need to be synchronized over a potentially occupied network.

This latest Mental Ray Standalone can also be used from the command-line, of course, now without any restrictions and no licensing setup.

Please download the new installers below for your platform. We provide versions that are compatible with Maya 2018 and 3ds Max 2018 Mental Ray. We have no plans to upgrade to later versions of Maya or 3ds Max.

Happy rendering! ūüėÄ


Downloads

Mental Ray Free Standalone / Satellite

Mental Ray Free Downloads – Links

Hi all,

after decades of supporting the rendering community worldwide, the NVIDIA ARC Forum will go out of service, unfortunately, including all of its mental ray sections. That does not mean its vast valuable content is lost, but we will stop hosting it on the original website location.

For those of you who are searching for the download links of the free Mental Ray software, which we did publish in the forum as well, here you are. We include a copy of the text of the original announcement followed by all the links to the pieces of software.

Happy rendering!


The version 1.2 update of the NVIDIA Mental Ray for Maya and NVIDIA Mental Ray for 3ds Max plugins, and the corresponding Mental Ray Standalone distributions are based on the latest major mental ray version 3.14.5.

This software update introduces support for NVIDIA’s Volta GPU generation, and is based on CUDA 9. It will continue to work with the older GPU generations Pascal, Maxwell, and Kepler. The update also fixes a lot of known issues, and improves rendering performance especially for GI Next. Note, the plugin works in Maya 2018.5 dot release too.

Please note, the plugins are free to use for interactive rendering and rendering of still frames from within Maya or 3ds Max. The rendering of animations with Maya Batch, Backburner or Mental Ray Standalone will ask for a license though.

NVIDIA Mental Ray for Maya Plugin

Windows
Linux
macOS

NVIDIA Mental Ray for Maya Standalone

Windows
Linux
macOS

NVIDIA Mental Ray for 3ds Max

NVIDIA Mental Ray for Maya 1.2.1 Update

Hi,

we have created a new build of the NVIDIA Mental Ray for Maya plugin, version 1.2.1. The primary purpose of this update is to fix a problem with the original installer, which stopped working with latest NVIDIA driver installers on Windows. At the same time, we also addressed few minor issues in the plugin itself, and in the Mental Ray core engine.

You can download the new version from our Mental Ray for Maya Forum for Linux, Windows, and Mac. This update is not auto-distributed through the NVIDIA Professional Application Center this time.

We would appreciate if you let us know that it works for you.

Happy rendering!

Mental Ray Free Downloads

For all users and lovers of mentalray and Mental Ray (as we used to call it lately),

in case you did not notice, I have sad news: we stopped selling NVIDIA Mental Ray and the related Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max plugins end of last year. For details see Mental Ray and Iray product updates.

Fortunately, those of you who purchased licenses from us, don’t worry, you can continue to use your Mental Ray product for as long as you wish. You are eligible to convert your licenses to perpetual, just contact us by email as mentioned in the FAQ above. The same is true for schools and institutions who have registered in our Mental Ray EDU program. It’s worth to note, that the perpetual licenses are free-of-charge, and therefore do not include any support.

Even if you happen to have no license, you can still freely use the Mental Ray plugins for interactive rendering in Maya and 3ds Max, like with Maya IPR and 3ds Max ActiveShade, as well as for rendering final quality still frames in Maya’s Render View and in the Rendered Frame Window of 3ds Max.

The plugins are essential if you want to load legacy mentalray scenes in recent Maya 2017/2018 or 3ds Max 2018, to render them, or to convert them to an alternative engine, at least. But more generally, you may use Mental Ray to learn all the fundamental rendering and lighting techniques like ray tracing, global illumination, image-based lighting and much more, from the software that was/is the defining standard for a lot of these features. The plugins offer the full functionality of Mental Ray no matter if you have a license or not.

To unlock rendering of animations with Maya Batch or Backburner or Mental Ray Standalone, you need a license. We are open to giving out licenses to cover your critical and ongoing Mental Ray projects. Just let us know.

You can find the download links of the latest versions in our forum at
NVIDIA ARC Forum РMental Ray for Maya and
NVIDIA ARC Forum – Mental Ray for 3ds Max.

Happy rendering!

NVIDIA Mental Ray for Maya 2018 – now available

We just released a major update of the NVIDIA Mental Ray for Maya plugin, introducing support for the upcoming Volta GPU generation from NVIDIA using CUDA 9. If you are a user of this plugin then you should have received a notification from the NVIDIA taskbar tool. You may also download the latest version from our mental ray for Maya website.

We now introduce: Mental Ray for Maya 2018.

This is the first release of the NVIDIA mental ray plugin for Maya 2018, coupled with the matching NVIDIA mental ray Standalone. For release notes and download locations please visit our forum at Now Available: Mental Ray for Maya 2018.

Happy Rendering!

Using the Physical Area Light in Maya 2016

In this fourth post in a series on mental ray for Maya 2016 Render Settings, we follow up on the Using Modern Materials and Lights post with more detail on the new Physical Area Light.

Where to find the new Physical Area Light

mrlights3

Note the new mental ray section. All lights below the line are mental ray lights.

Convenient Creation of Maya Area Light

The Physical Area Light is a Maya Area Light set up using the mila_light shader, for best operation with Layering (MILA) materials.

By default, the settings are as follows:

  • Physically-based falloff (Light Decay is Quadratic)
  • Shapes supported by mental ray (Light Shape Type is Rectangle)
  • Intensity connected to the mila_light
  • Color connected to the mila_light, supporting textures

Scene scale matters

The Physical Area Light has physically-based falloff (Light Decay is Quadratic) so the intensity of the light compared to the scene scale matters. It is the number one reason we find when troubleshooting a physically-based scene that renders black or dark. Take the following example.

A default polygon plane is created on the default grid.default_grid_and_plane1

The plane is scaled up to the size of the default grid.default_grid_and_plane2

A Physical Area Light is created and moved to 4 units above the plane.default_physical_area_light1

Then rendered, noting that the default intensity of the light is 100.default_physical_area_light2

Now the light is  moved to 10 units above the plane.default_physical_area_light3

Rendered. And barely lighting this  plane, so more than that requires more light intensity.default_physical_area_light4

Also, the size of  the area light matters.

A flashlight can light up a baseball, but it cannot light up a baseball field. This kind of thinking has to start informing your lighting decisions. But once you get used to it, it may actually help you work more efficiently to produce realistic lighting results.

Lighting Quality

With Light Importance Sampling (LIS) on, the area light Samples settings are ignored, and quality of direct lighting can be more easily controlled with the Lighting Quality setting in the Quality tab of the Render Settings. This is especially useful for scenes with many lights.

quality_tab_samples

Using textures

Because the Physical Area light automatically uses the texture-able mila_light shader, one can set the input for the light Color with a Maya File node. By the way, we also updated the physical_light to be able to use textures, but now the mila_light is preferred, as it will evolve with the physical area light.

render-2

Example using an HDR textured rectangular area light. The intensity multiplier scales the values whether they are HDR or LDR. It’s just a multiply of whatever the texture returns. In other words, the texture is not normalized before multiplication.

Spot edge falloff

The physical area light defaults to use a point light output pattern over the surface area of the light. In order to use a more spot-like falloff for the edges of the area, we need to adjust the area light. To do this, change the light type of your  Physical Area Light from Area Light to Spot Light. It is still a Physical Area Light because it uses the light shape. The mila_light shader remains hooked up to the  color and the intensity.

mental ray For Maya Beta with NVIDIA

We are now beta testing Pi-ray, our exciting new version 3.14 of mental ray, within Maya 2016, in a private mental ray For Maya beta test. If you are interested, please email mental-ray-beta@nvidia.com, with your beta test request. Please state your company, how you use mental ray, and your machine configuration. In addition to registering in our forum, you need to have Maya 2016 and the mental ray for Maya 2016 plugin installed before installing the beta plugin.

The following image is rendered with the latest global illumination (GI) algorithm in 3.14. Enter the beta test to find out some great things about the latest GI.

arch_room_hires