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

Mental Ray Licensing Update

Hi Mental Ray users and lovers,

over the course of the past 12 months, we have converted most of you, the existing and eligible Mental Ray customers, to a perpetual licensing model. That is giving you plenty of time for finishing current Mental Ray projects and for transitioning to alternative renderers in the coming years.

As some of you have noticed, the NVIDIA Licensing Portal was shut down earlier this month. That means, the option to manage your license tokens and generate license files yourself is not available any longer. We are working on a different solution that will allow you to move Mental Ray to another machine easily. We are going to announce any news here, on this blog.

Please do not hesitate to contact arc-licensing(at)nvidia.com in case of licensing issues or requests.

Happy (and uninterrupted) rendering!

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!

New version of Alembic import shader

Here’s a new version of the abcimport shader that is compatible with mental ray 3.12 and mental ray for Maya 2015.¬†It can be downloaded from this link. The package contains a version for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, as well as the .mi file with the new shader declaration.

The new features:

  • Support for hair¬†import
    Alembic curve objects are translated into mental ray hair geometry. The curves can be defined with linear segments, quadratic bezier and cubic b-spline (either uniform¬†or with given knot vector). Hair approximation quality can be set with the shader¬†parameter¬†“subdivisions”¬† (default 0). The parameter controls the number of subdivisions for hair segments. The picture shows a rendering of an Alembic file generated by Ornatrix 3, with linear hair segments and using the shader “mib_illum_hair_x”.hair from abcimport¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Hair alembic file¬†courtesy Ephere Inc
  • Faceset material support
    In Maya, the facesets are assigned with material names. Our abcimport shader now uses this information to reference materials with these names. Facesets can be either triangle or polygon mesh. (Facesets for subdivision surfaces will be added later.) Faceset translation is enabled by default and can be turned off¬†by setting¬†the shader parameter “facesetmaterials” to off.
  • User data support
    Triangle¬†meshes now can reference user data such as color3, color4, point, normal, float, integer.¬†The user data must be attached as “arbitrary geometry parameter property” to objects in the abc file. Please, contact us for more details.
  • Subdivision control for hair,¬†NURBS and subdivision surfaces
    The “subdivision” parameter is now also applied to hair, NURBS trim curves, NURBS, and subdivision surfaces.
  • Motion blur issues fixed
    Motion blur for topology changing abc files is now possible. We fixed an issue with the velocities in Alembic which were not interpreted correctly.

These features will be incorporated into the upcoming versions of mental ray this year.

mental ray – In the Lab

This is the first post of a new category: NVIDIA mental ray РIn the Lab. We want to give peeks into research projects and features we are working on for future versions of mental ray. Here we like to talk about our GPU accelerated Ambient Occlusion solution, in short: AO GPU.

The video demonstrates three new features of AO GPU: Progressive Rendering, High Quality Anti-Aliasing and Object Instancing. It was generated using a standalone test application, using a NVIDIA Quadro K6000 GPU.

Progressive Rendering

Previously, AO GPU used a sampling mode optimized for batch rendering. This sampling scheme, based on Fibonacci numbers, converges very fast and efficiently to good results. The caveat is that you have to know the number of samples in advance, plus there are only certain sample numbers you are allowed to use (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ‚Ķ). If you stop rendering ‚Äėin-between‚Äô, the image will look wrong.

Now, sometimes you are not sure how many samples are needed to achieve the desired quality. The usual solution is to perform progressive rendering, which means watching intermediate rendering results and stop the render process when quality is good enough. As you can see in the video, Fibonacci sampling is not suited for progressive rendering, intermediate images show strange wobbling shadow effects (we moved the camera to trigger a re-rendering in the application). Switching to our new progressive sampling scheme fixes the wobbling artifacts, you just see the noise disappearing over time.

This progressive sampling scheme does not converge as fast but it is well suited for ‚Äėtime-constrained‚Äô situations, where you want to stop rendering after a certain time limit, and you are not sure what the best sample count setting would be.

High Quality Anti-Aliasing

The existing AO GPU solution used a very simple anti-aliasing scheme to filter pixel jaggies at geometric edges. Essentially, this filtering was constrained to the area of a single pixel, and every sample was equally weighted. Of course, for some scenes this simple Box filtering is not good enough. In the video, we magnified a detail of such a scene to show the problem. Look at the dark vertical gap between the doors of the cupboard; it looks staggered even with many anti-aliasing samples.

We added new filters to improve this. Anti-aliasing now samples in larger area than only a single pixel, and the samples are weighted according to a filter curve. In the video, we switch to a special Gauss filter curve with a sampling area of 3 pixels diameter, and you should see that the lines look much better now. Other available filter curves are ‚ÄėTriangle‚Äô and ‚ÄėGauss‚Äô.

Object Instancing

For complex scenes, memory consumption is always a concern. The model shown in the video has 21 million triangles, using about 3 GBytes of GPU memory. If we want to render more objects, then we might lose GPU acceleration, because additional models do not fit anymore into GPU memory. The current AO GPU solution will switch to CPU rendering automatically, but rendering will take much longer. If the additional objects consist of the same model, then the model can be reused in the rendering without taking much more memory. This model-replication technique is called instancing.

We implemented instancing in the AO GPU prototype to see how far we can get with this technique on a GPU. As the video shows, a million replicas are no problem.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post and watching the video.

mental ray’s GPU accelerated GI engine prototype

Autodesk 3ds Max 2015 and Autodesk Maya 2015 ship with mental ray 3.12 which includes a prototype of our new global illumination engine accelerated by the GPU.  We encourage our 3ds Max and Maya users to try it out. Your feedback will help us in making this a big step forward into the future of rendering with mental ray. While the current version is in prototype status and not yet feature complete, we are constantly improving the algorithms and adding new features. Your input is most welcome in this process.

The key idea of the new GI engine is full and exact simulation of the lighting interactions in a scene. This way, we overcome drawbacks from caching techniques and interpolation, and make mental ray more interactive and predictable. The brute-force raytracing approach is accelerated on CUDA capable NVIDIA GPUs making it particularly attractive in this set-up. Its result gets combined seamlessly and automatically with the primary rendering done on the CPU. This ensures full compatibility with existing custom shaders, which do not need to be touched in order to take benefit of the new GI engine.

The following Maya scene is rendered using the new GPU GI prototype in 11 min 34 sec (2 x Quad-core Xeon E5620 @ 2.4 GHz in hyper-threading, 8 GB RAM, Quadro K5000)

Mosque - mental ray 3.12 GI GPU diffuse

                                                                                            Autodesk Maya scene courtesy Lee Anderson, environment from openfootage

 

For comparison, this image is rendered with the classical finalgather automatic mode in 20 min 52 sec (2 x Quad-core Xeon E5620 @ 2.4 GHz in hyper-threading, 8 GB RAM, Quadro K5000)

mosque_fg_auto

 

In the current version, the GI GPU mode considers diffuse-diffuse bounces only, similar to what final gathering typically computes.  In fact, if this mode is enabled without setting further parameters then finalgather settings are used to derive reasonable default  parameters to render towards the same quality. If certain prominent ray tracing effects like mirror reflections or transparent  windows are not used in a scene then the fastest diffuse mode is best suited. For current limitations, see below.

 

The following image is rendered with the GI prototype in diffuse mode in 37 minutes (Core i7-3930K (6 cores), 16 GB RAM, Quadro K5000)

Medieval - mental ray 3.12 GI GPU diffuse

                                                                                                                                             Autodesk 3dsMax scene courtesy David Ferreira

 

The following 3dsMax scene is rendered on the CPU with finalgather force in 13 hours (Core i7-3930K (6 cores), 16 GB RAM, Quadro K5000)

Medieval - mental ray 3.12 CPU

 

The GI GPU mode can be enabled and controlled with scene options or on the command line of the standalone mental ray. We also provide scripts for Maya and 3dsMax that provide a simple GUI for enabling GI GPU (see screenshot). Please, note, that this is by no means how we envision it to be integrated in the applications. It’s rather to provide easy access to users that would like to test the prototype.

 

max-screenshot

Script Download

The scripts to easily enable and access the GI GPU prototype can be downloaded directly from us here:

 

Current limitations

GI GPU transfers the scene geometry, presampled shader data, and some constant amount of buffer memory onto the GPU. Textures are not needed on the GPU. In the case that the GPU memory is not sufficient, there is an equivalent CPU mode. The new GI engine can still be used but the GPU acceleration must be disabled (uncheck the ‚ÄėUse GPU‚Äô checkbox). There is also an absolute limit of 25 million triangles.

For GI GPU to be effective, finalgather must be turned on. Some features are not yet supported: distorting lens shaders, motion blur, particles, volume shaders, camera clipping planes, progressive rendering. There is only limited support for scattering shaders, emissive materials, and hair rendering.

Before testing GI GPU, we recommend to install a recent version of the NVIDIA graphic card driver.

 

Feedback and discussion

We would like to hear your feedback and see your renderings using this prototype.  Please join our NVIDIA Advanced Rendering forum, if you have not already, and send us your comments and discuss the mental ray GI GPU prototype.  The dedicated mental ray GI GPU Prototype forum topic here