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Jump (back!) to Mental Ray ?

martin walker

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Im going to give Mental Ray in 2010 a try for my next few projects after hearing some glowing reports....and if I like it, ditching V-Ray.


Dont get me wrong, V-Ray is fantastic....but Im getting a bit tired if endless tweaking using physical camera / daylight / lwf....not too mention having to "start again" everytime I have glass in my scene.


Has anyone else jumped back and can they pass comment ....?

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dont do it, neither is better - they are very similiar.


id just learn vray properly seeing as though you allready have a grasp of it., mental ray is just as complex - but yes it is free with max!


what do you find problematic regarding the cameras and glass?

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Well, Im going to go ahead and say it, Vray is much more advanced than MR at this stage, and assuming you are an advanced vray user and have sound knowledge of it's and it's materials and shader's properties, is capable of producing more customized imagery than MR. I say 'customized' because there is no "better" renderer, as the renderer will only take one as for as the artist using it can go!


But then again, i am talking about a very advanced level here.


My main decision to switch to MR, was its ease of setup and use. I consider myself an extensively experienced and advanced 3D artist; but i am the head of my department, and unfortunately i dont have similar levels of expertise among my workforce. Mr has proved to be an easier platform to setup and work with on different levels of experience.


I can simply setup the scene, and handle a lot of scenes from different artists (whom are experienced at different levels) and then merge them all into one universal file that is much easier to read, interpret & Handle than if my department members were working on vray. It is simply more universal.


Having said that, it is a VERY powerful rendering engine, with amazing customizable presets that can get you started at basic photorealism in no-time. It has saved me hours and hours of interplatform translation, and so i decided to really dig into it, only to find that it's MR Arch & Design materials are very advanced at such a no BS User Interface!


I have been using it ever since i got into it, and keep familiarizing myself with new advanced concepts on a semi weekly basis.


No disrespect to chaos group, nor Vray, as i do think it is one of the most remarkable rendering engines out there, its just that if youre working on a multiple workstation / platform level, MR is much more universal and omnipresent.


And Besides, I'm always with the underdog :)


The amount of investment and research being put into MR recently has really caught my attention and i have decided to be one of its extensive users. You will find some features in Vray that are not present in MR, but they sure as hell are catching up fast!


It really hasn't let me down once till now; and never have i felt limited by its capabilities.

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Thanks Amer


I good honest view. Compatability isnt an issue for me as I work alone, and when I do use freelancers they work to my spec.



I've worked with Vray for the past 5 years, and MR 3 before that....so Im in the position as yourself in experience


Time is the main issue I would like to improve. I love V-Ray, in my opinion its the best renderer ever developed (considering cost, ease of use, stability etc). But Im always up for a change and If I can squeeze a few more hours into workflow....then great.


It was the review of max 2010 by Tom Livings that pushed me to investigate.

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At the end of the day its also user perferance. I personally Love mental. I have been trying to get into Vray.


I have been a long time mental user. Recently I have been trying Vray. My observations are


Mental is really quick to calculate really detailed lighting solutions, BUT is really slow at rendering


Vray is slow at calculating detailed lighting solutions, But really quick at rendering.


Mental is very simple to trouble shoot

Vray is not


Mentals shaders are very powerful and flexible.

Vrays are also powerful although too generic for my liking. (personal opinion)


Mental Mill really opens the door to create almost any shader you could need (or not) with out having to code. Plus gives "realtime" viewport shading for free.


At the end of the day the two are so similar the por's and cons almost cancel each other out.


Go ahead and learnt it, if for no other reason it will give you an other tool or arrow in your quiver, broaden your knowlage and give you an edge over someone how doesn't have knowlage of them both.



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Thats funny, were thinking of switching back the other way (back to Vray).


The thing that frustrates me the most in mr is the indirect light distribution. When it comes to that, vray defo has the edge. mr is STILL using technology that was developed many years ago, photons, and really hasnt been updated or touched at all. There has been some tweaks to FG, but not enough to be able render an interior as crisp and strong as vray.


To me it seems, Mental Images or Autocad comes up with these quick answers and solutions, and fails to continue to develop it there on. Example: The mr sun+sky system. its been the same ever since iot first came out. And I may be alone on this but that system is not as great as everyone would make it out to be. There is some serious lack of control and color for sun+sky.


Vray has the edge. It has multiple rendering techniques. mr has one...FG (oh and photons :rolleyes:). And because of this, mr suffers terribly when it comes down to animations.


I feel that mr still has a ways to go before being on the same level of Arch Viz rendering as Vray.


I personally wouldnt mind being in a position where both engines were available to me. I have been mr for many years now, and am really frustrated with its limits (to go beyond whats shipped in the box, you have searched or develop costum shaders [a positive and negative value to mr]). Vray may still has some limits, but IMO there not as small as mr.

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vray will also always be ahead as it has an excellent development team.


autodesk just play catch ups imo. they only introduce features no one wants, and never anything useful....unless the competition have it.


the teapot was the best feature autodesk ever came up with.

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for me is booth render very good and final render too. I am work most for Archviz and what i use is only 20-30% of 3dsmax. I need GUI´s for my Workflows and here is the Big different. Chaos Group create fast Workflow in the Renderer and Autodesk have not the time to integrate simple mental ray shader in 3dsmax, for example object light. But it gives many good Tools for mental ray for example Photo Studio or Shader Utilities and than is mental ray much better integrate as Vray. It is only a question of the best GUI=Workflow.


PS: i hope my english is good enough to understand, sorry...



hot chip

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Mental Ray is a very capable engine, but it does have a few problems that you do not run into with Vray.


Mainly, Mental Ray is more of an open platform, in a way that is similar to what 3dsmax is itself. Meaning that if there is something that you need, it is best done by writing the shaders to do it yourself, or finding third party shaders that have been developed to take care of the problem. Compared to Vray, Mental Ray is very open. At least in my opinion.


But this is a problem also. When you have an issue in Vray, you can go onto their forum, and usually solve it quickly, or at least make the Vlado aware of how the users are using it, so he can make adjustments in future releases as needed.


With MR, is hard to know where to look to when you have a problem. Mental Images is responsible for writing the engine, but Autodesk is responsible for implementing the features of the engine within 3dsMax. I have found that if I post questions that do not involve solving problems in writing shaders, it often gets little attention on the Mental Image forums. If I post the same question on the Area, it is not uncommon for me to be told that I am simply using the software wrong. Which isn't necessarily the case either.


The Mental images board isn't really concerned about ArchViz artists, or the issues they might be having. They are focused on a broader crowd, and the weight of information there is directed as people writing shaders. The Area deals with how Mental Ray is implemented in Max, but seems less concerned about methods that they don't consider part of their implementation. This is bothersome, especially since it is the standard render engine for AutoDesk products.



Anyway, I will digress into exact issues I have struggled with in MR since switching to it as my primary engine after using Vray as my primary for several years...


- The AA/Sampling features are not as robust and quick as they are in Vray.

- MR does not bounce light as efficiently as Vray does.

- The proxy system is not stable with distributed bucket rendering, and in fact, distributed bucket rendering in MR is highly unstable in itself.

- Loading and Unloading the scene for rendering is often time consuming.

- Using objects to illuminate scenes is a recipe for disappointment. It is poorly implemented

- The default daylight via FG is to heavily dominated by green hues.

- Tone Mapping controls are lacking, a Reinhard type mapper would be nice.


Now, to be fair, when I switched to MR, the scale of the typical project I render also increased dramatically. So some of the problems may be present using Vray also.

Edited by Crazy Homeless Guy
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I have to agree with you on the forum front. For a dedicated and run by mental images forum its very sorry indeed. Very little feed back and very slow at that.


I have found the mental ray forum on Vizdepot.com to be very good along with this one. Although for really technical stuff there isn't a good place to go.



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I've enjoyed reading this thread from the sidelines, as I am new to the ArchViz world (3 months in training), but this discussion has been very informative. I've been considering buying Vray, but holding off due to the extra $1,000 cost. It is nice to hear that MR is a decent renderer to use, especially for those new to the industry. This discussion has made me feel better about holding off on the Vray purchase and spending my funds elsewhere (for now). Before this thread, I assumed Vray was a no-brainer and that I had to get it. Thanks for the great discussion.



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I've given up on vray. All MR now. Works great. Only thing I struggle with sometimes is the lack of proxies (stil on MAX 2009). that's apparently all fixed in 2010. As far as I'm concerned, MR is the future.



I used it when it was really messed up and you had to split renders to get a big image going but since then, 2009's version is already really solid. You know what, the A+D material preset is fantastic as a preset to use. You can also edit it if you want. Just very very user friendly.

Edited by wasteland giant
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Giant, There ARE proxies in 2009, I use them all the time; And as for animations in MR being a pain in the ass, landrvr1, you couldnt be further from the truth! Rendering animations in MR is child'splay compared to Vray!!


I render 3 or 4 animations a month using MR...not a single split second flicker in any of them.

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I have to say that MR did a lot of work in the last years, for the archviz business. 3 years ago, this thread would not have exist at all.


According to the last CGarchitect survey, Vray is still, by far, the most popular and growing engine out there.


Vray was considered to be the a few years ago. then options added on, and on, and on. I have to admit that it is getting a little more complex than MR.


Vray is still way ahead in many aspects, like listening to the user base for new settings, innovations.. I mean most render engines theses days have a quite common user interface and way of working, and guys from Chaosgroup are probably quite happy that they are leading the bunch and not trying to catch up.


One of the reasons that MR is making a comeback could also be that the new versions of Vray are harder to crack, wich leaves more people using older versions, or switching to MR.


So for me, speed and quality is better in Vray, but an experienced (and good) user of MR could probably say the opposite.

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