Now available for purchase at core-cg.com, Mental Core is a great re-integration of many mental ray features in Maya, including features currently not made available in the UI by Autodesk at all. I’ve been using the beta versions fairly regularly and have found it excellent! A much nicer passes system, new shaders, cleaner linear workflow and many other offerings make this an excellent workflow enhancer. Check out a bunch of YouTube clips covering the whole system.
Introductory pricing lasts until the 15th of January and I’ll be picking up a copy myself!
It seems a bit strange that here I am trying to get my own blog going again, when I actually don’t follow that many blogs (at least industry related ones) myself. I’ll have to look around a bit more!
One new blog surprisingly appearing in the title of this post, is Elemental Ray and it’s already a winner. Created by David Hackett and Brenton Rayner (two people worth listening to) it covers various mental ray features and techniques and how they can be used in Maya. They have deep technical knowldge of mental ray (and rendering in general) due to their professional and educational backgrounds, so they are able to present things such as a Primer on Unified Sampling in a very informative and easy to understand way. They have since posted even more info on Unified Sampling.
Yes… so I’m a bit late in posting this as it has been a few weeks since the new version went live, flew the coop, hit the streets of render town etc.
For those who don’t stalk me enough, I love Maxwell Render. I’ve been using it since the beta days and was lucky enough to get myself onto the testing team. I feel particularly satisfied with this release as I was able to commit a lot more time to testing it than usual, and it was a lot of fun coming up with ideas for the Maya integration in particular. The guys at Next Limit (the developers) are really nice and really do try to think of everything and make each release great. Their Maya plugin developer is doing a fantastic job as I’m sure the other plugin devs are. Some highlights of this release are:
Better antialising with added control. I never had any aliasing issues before but now it’s been further improved and you can adjust how sharp or soft the filtering is on the fly while rendering, or before/afterwards.
MUCH better motion blur! It’s freaking great. It’s really fast, you can set the number of motion segments (up to very high numbers) and you can adjust the timing of the shutter so that the blur occurs at different points along the exposure. Now, those features aren’t particularly new for other renderers however with Maxwell’s implementation you can achieve effects associated with long exposure, both for stills and for animations. It’s quite easy to achieve motion trails and timelapse effects. In fact one of my test animations has ended up in the new online help system for it!:
(essentially a bunch of object lights attached to a character rig)
Hair rendering! It uses it’s own new hair primitive, supporting many popular hair systems. In Maya this includes Maya Hair and Shave & A Haircut. The same great Maxwell Material system is used for the hair, so it’s very flexible. It also supports a number of Colour Per Vertex features so that shading can be inherited from Maya Hair or Shave’s own shading system. Here’s a quick example, I just imported one of the super stylish Maya Hair presets and assigned a shader:
A super cool added bonus for Maya users is that because Maya Hair uses Paint Effects strokes to render, Maxwell is actually rendering those Paint Effects strokes as hair… meaning this extends to other Paint Effects uses too! Here’s an example from my testing (a WIP scene basically):
(click for larger)
The grass, bushes (not very good…) and spikey plant are Maya Hair while the entire flamingo structure and the vines on the wall are Paint Effects. The Paint Effects support is limited at this point to only one level of growth I believe, as in you can’t have a tree with branches and leaves. It’s a great start though and renders fast with no need to do any conversion to polygons.
Native particle rendering. Where before you needed to instance objects to your particles to render them, now it will essentially create little spheres for particles by default which is great. None of my particle tests were particularly interesting but there are some good examples around, such as these clips on YouTube:
New displacement method. Maxwell has always had really great displacement that could be incredibly detailed without any real memory increase, however depending on how much detail you wanted it could slow things down a lot. We now have the option for pretessellated displacement that will add to the memory cost but render much faster.
There’s lots of other new features and tons of fixes and tweaks, but those are the main ones I can think of! I use mental ray and Maxwell about evenly these days and there’s a lot to like about both of them. In terms of unbiased renderers, I don’t think I’ll be switching from Maxwell anytime soon!