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.



Speaking at SIGGRAPH 2013

Less than a week to EUE, less than a month to SIGGRAPH 2013

This year, I am speaking in the course "Physically Based Shading - Theory and Practice"
and my talk is entitled "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about mia_material (But Were Afraid to Ask)"

It will be a rush through the history and development of good o'le mia_material (Arch&Design in max-speak) and it will be informative and fun. :)

See you all there!



My Secret Garden: End User Event 2013 in Utrecht

It's that time of year again! Time for the worlds least-known most friendly computer graphics conference... the unmistakable "End User Event" in Utrecht.

I won't say more than of course I am going and of course I am speaking. Would you have thought otherwise?

All the details are at www.EndUserEvent.com

I have some previous posts on the topic below, since I've been there Every Time.

So be there, or be an equilateral 4-point polygon whos adjacent edge vectors has the dot product zero!!



Get the Balance Right: mental ray thread priority in 3ds max 2014

Hello World!

As promised (but later than I promised), some news about the new 3ds Max 2014 release that may not be immediately obvious.

 One thing we changed in 3ds max 2014 was the thread priority of the mental ray render threads - they now default to "Below Normal", and when rendering in the background (i.e. via Backburner), one notch lower than that.

 Most people praise this, and say things like "Woohoo, I can finally read my email while rendering" or "When we use the sales departmens machines as render slaves, they don't even know we are doing it any more, mouhahaha, hahaha, ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

However, once or twice someone says things like "Hey, my 3d screen saver on my render slave took all the CPU and now my render is still at 1% a week later, you suck!!"

So the question is - can this behaviour be changed?


In your 3ds max directorys subdirectory "plugcfg_ln" you will find a file called "mentalray_cpu.ini", which is fairly self-explanatory, but reads something akin to this:
; - mentalray_cpu.ini
; Sets thread priority and thread count for mental ray renderer.
; Meaning of Thread Priority numbers are
;    0 == Normal
;   -1 == Below Normal
;   -2 == Lowest
; Meaning of Thread Count numbers are
;    0 == Use as many threads as there are cores
;    N == Use N threads
;   -N == Use as many threads as there are cores, minus N
; Settings for normal / interactive renders in the UI
;   Thread priority (defaults to -1 = "Below Normal")
;   Thread count  (defaults to 0 = use all cores)
; Settings for backburner / network renders
;   Thread priority (defaults to -2 = "Lowest")
;   Thread count  (defaults to 0 = use all cores)
As you can see, we can set both thread count and thread priority by fiddling with this file. [Note: this file is read at Startup, so any changing of it needs you to restart your Max!]

For thread priority we use the same parametrs as Windows does, where 0 is "same/Normal", -1 is "Below normal" and -2 is "Low". I advice you not to try a positive value, or you may not actually be able to move your mouse until the render completes....

For thread count, I made it such that if the value is zero, it does what it always did in the past - use all the cores.

However, if the value is positive, it will launch that number of threads - completely ignorind the number of cores on your machine. You can set it to 4 on an 8-core or 8 on a 4-core, doesn't matter, it's up to you - there may in some cases even be a benifit in using more threads than actual cores, but your mileage may vary.

Finally, if you set a negative value, it will take that many threads less than the available number of cores. This is really intended for the use case of using the accounting departments machines stealthily as render slaves.... leave them some CPU to do their spreadsheets on!

I hope this helps keeping your priorities straight!



Launching the 2014 product line...

In case you missed it, tonight is a "launch event" for the 2014 products from Autodesk Media and Entertainment, which includes some work I've done. I will be blogging more in detail later about what we added. 

Here is the launch site:

The "Unfold" Event

You can also find the list of new features for 3ds Max. This is a very simplified list, though, and misses a LOT of stuff, like:

  • Unified Sampling
  • Image Based Lighting
  • iRay 3.1
  • Automatic Gamma Correction
  • And more...
It also skips a lot of the "Small Annoying Things" we've fixed in the last year (where in our team alone nearly a 100 'tiny little things' and bugs and whatnot have been slain. Like for example:
  • "Zoom about Mouse" is now the default - and works!
  • mental ray thread priority no longer hangs your computer!
  • New exception handling causes error handling to be much more robust
  • Bugfixes. Bugfixes! BUGFIXES!!
  • Etc. etc. etc.
Did we get to all I'd wanted to fix? For sure not. Max is a big product, and things like killing every bug related to gamma correction... well... that takes time :)

I'll blog on these things as we move forward. For now, have a fun Easter and enjoy the new release.



So, Zap, what have you been up to lately?

Here's one answer to that question:


Yes, this blog will see more activity soon.....