Out with the Old Blog, in with the New Blog

As you all probably have noticed, stuff on this blog has... kinda died down. This is because I do not work as directly with mental ray per se anymore. I do, however, work a lot in rendering. But it feels a bit strange to post stuff not about mental ray on a blog called "mental ray tips", don't you think?

Anyway, today, we started the Brand New Blog, called The Rendering Alliance, which is the blog of the 3ds max Rendering team.

The first post is an introduction to our mad team

Await a lot more posting by yours truly (and the rest of the guys and gals) on this new blog. I can kinda sorta almost promise something kinda sorta fun. Ish. Stay tuned..... :)



EUE 2014 - it's that time of year again!

You all know I love the EUE, the "End User Event", right?

It's Siggraph, shrunken to 250 of your best mates, and held in a pub.

Here's the lineup for the 2014 edition. Register at www.EndUserEvent.com

To show off the renewed push for 3ds Max development, product manager Eddie Perlberg will be there along with Martin Coven, plus my very esteemed collegues Daniel Levesque and Neil Hazzard.

Now the sad part: EUE this year is scheduled exactly on the same time that my son graduates from highschool, which, honestly, I had to prioritize. So I won't be there....

...in person. I for sure will be there in spirit!

But I'm shipping quite capable substitutes in the aformentioned people!

They will see you there!



3ds max 2015 new rendering features

So people have been wondering WHAT THE HECK I've been up to the last year, since I've been qute... silent....

The short story is... this:

The main work that was done was to turn mental ray into an ActiveShade renderer, i.e. that you can work with interactively. Also, for the already ActiveShade-capable renderer iRay, we improved the responsivness of a lot of the updates (no longer waits for mouse-up to apply changes).

Be aware that not every scene edit is supported in ActiveShade, but a lot more than what was supported before now works much more streamlined. In 2014, running iRay ActiveShade was a bit of a pain. Now, in 2015, running both mr and iRay ActiveShade should be a much more pleasant experience where you can actually get real lighting- and shading work done.

About the other features mentioned in the video - I will post more about those as time permits, but the short story is that we enabled iRay string options, and made iRay LPE's (Light Path Expressions) into render elements, which can be quite powerful!

More details later....

UPDATE: There is one minor ERROR in the above video, though. As a matter of fact iRay does not have a "Shadow" pass. iRay LPE's are about light, and shadows are the absence of light. Only oldschool "non-physical" renderers saw shadows as a "thing" that you can output separately. What you do in iRay is instead to separate different types of lights. You can get a similar amount of control (in a more physically correct way) by balancing lights. But there is no "shadow" element. As a matter of fact, anyone who took my mry201 mental ray FXPhd course know, that "Shadow" passes are evil, bad, and never actually work anyway (with the exception of shadow passes for the background for compositing, of course)



Happy New Year . 2014 will be awesome!

Hello Everybody and a Happy New 2014!

Special new years greetings with this little film my son made.  Only thing I did was some "voice acting".

I pre-warn and pre-apologize to anyone who ACTUALLY knows Japanese. It's part of the joke...

So I know this blog is a bit dormant, but I promise that Hard Work is being done behind the scenes at my new job at Autodesk.

It'll be.... awesome. :)

Stay tuned....



Movies using mia_material / Arch&Design ?


I'm compiling a list of movies that use the mia_material shader (known as "Arch&Design" if you are a 3ds Max user). I need this to present in front of the Sci/Tech Oscars committee on September 19th 2013... so quick answers are better then slow ones :)

 Did you work on a feature film?

Let me know in the comment field, or drop me an email, tweet me a DM @MasterZap or... whatever.




Shinines vs Rougness vs XXX poll

I have a question about preference, since this seems to differ between people I talk to... and I'm starting to be curious as what is actually most "widespread":

The question: For a glossy reflection shader, what parameter do you want to define how "glossy" reflectoins are... and what "direction" should it work?

Clearly the name "glossiness" (that mia_material) uses is suboptimal, because some people associate "more glossiness" with "more blurry reflections" whereas others associate "more glossiness" with "more polished i.e. closer to a mirror".

So there are a few choices, either go with "shininess" which is easier to understand that a "higher" value is "more like a mirror". However, Physically Based Shading is talking increasingly about "roughness" as the value (the MILA shaders use that, for example). Unfortunatly, the "roughness" as defined in physics goes from "zero to infinity" in a very visually "nonlinear" way, and hence is very hard to map a texture to. In the other end of the spectrum we have "specular exponents" like Phong, that also go from "zero to infinity" but the other way around.....

So .... I just want to hear from you, the user community, what you think is preferred.




SIGGRAPH 2013 and Cinefex

Hello everybody! Sorry for the lack of posting.


As usual this time of year, it's time for the SIGGRAPH conference, this year in Anaheim. Yes, I am going, and as a matter of fact I am Speaking. Thursday, before lunch, in the "Physically Plausible Shading in Theory and Practice", I will hold a talk named "Everything you always wanted to know about mia_material * (* but were afraid to ask)", which will explain the story of how the mia_material (Arch&Design to 3ds max users) shader was developed, why it does what it does, why it is so hard to replicate... and a lot of funny anecdotes never ever heard elsewhere (and very very little math).

Show up - enjoy!

If you are attending this year, make sure to get the cool App, where you can see which talks I'm going to by "following" Zap Andersson. That is, if you are interested in hardcore rendering as I am ;)

See you all in Anaheim


I bet nearly everyone reading this blog knows about the magazine Cinefex and is probably a subscriber. But I bet many of us has also looked longingly at the back issues and how many times have we not wanted to hold that issue about E.T. in your hands?

Well... you may be able to... soon... assuming your hands also hold an iPad!

A couple of people I know have gone through the audacious task of  licencing all the Cinefex back issues and speant a year scanning every copy, OCR'ed it, marked it up for search.... etc.

Words fail me at describing this task, and I will let them describe it for themsleves, on their Kickstarter page, which you can find HERE:


Or watch this video:

If you find this interesting, consider throwing them a $ or more for the effort. I don't even have an iPad and still did it. Just the Blade Runner issue of Cinefex recently went for $250 on eBay. Here you ALL TEH CINEFEXES. That's...a deal.