Arnold 5 - 3ds Max 2018 - good bye mental ray - hello Arnold!!

Hello everybody :)

As those of you who has downloaded 3ds max 2018, you've noticed two things: mental ray is gone, and in its place, you find Arnold 5 !

Going forward, anyone wanting to continue using mental ray, should talk to NVidia, who will be releasing it directly to users. It will not be available through Autodesk any more.

Arnold in Max

The last year for me has been busy as hell, but insanely fun!! We've done the impossible, and integrated a renderer fully in one year!

So when you do get 3ds max 2018 you will find Arnold 5 inside it - in the form of the MAXtoA plugin. The one that ships with max is build 712.

If you instead go to http://solidangle.com/arnold/download/#3dsmax

...you will find a much newer version. (Yes, even same day as 3ds max 2018 was released with MAXtoA built in, we released a new MAXtoA that was 100 builds newer...  :)

Yes, that's how we roll. Release newer stuff same day!

Arnold 5 is an amazing piece of technology, and working with it has been a complete joy. It's a giant step up from the old Arnold 4 both in features and technology, but more importantly in "cleanliness" of the API and its internal concepts.

The addition of "closures" is a complete godsend. This relegates the work of rendering to the renderer, as it should be. No longer are material shaders little dumb raytracers that count lights and shoot reflection rays. A material shader returns mix of BxDF closures, and the renderer itself takes care of doing "the right thing" with them.

That allows seamless mixing of materials including the AOVs (which are actually light path expressions), as well as mixing C++ based shaders with OSL shaders however one wants.

I am extremely happy to be working with Arnold and the Solid Angle team, and it's a fantastic piece of technology. Arnold 5 is a pure joy to code for, and Solid Angles willingess to simply remove and delete old stuff is very uplifting (but scary too :) )

I hope you guys will enjoy playing with Arnold 5 in 3ds max.

I will probably start a new blog for Arnold related rendering stuff going forward, coz posting it on a half-dead blog called "mental ray tips" seems.... well..... not exactly fitting.

Enjoy playing with it!

Render on!



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.