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Monday, May 05, 2008

Why Mental Ray in Revit 2009


Autodesk Mental Ray 􀀀c generates images of outstanding quality and unsurpassed realism. It achieves scalable performance through the exploitation of parallelism both on multiprocessor machines and across networks of machines. Its generality allows for a wide range of applications, including the creation of state of the art visual effects for movies, full length feature animations, visualization of automotive and other virtual models with accurate lighting, physically correct simulation of architectural design, as well as content creation for games.

Autodesk Mental Ray is designed for the efficient rendering of images on multi-processor machines and networks of machines, as well as for a tight but flexible integration as a software library in 3D content creation and CAD systems.

Autodesk Mental Ray comes with a number of standard shader packages, many of them in source code. They range rom shaders for basic illumination tasks and phenomenon construction to comprehensive and optimized packages for common applications, like shaders for typical materials used in architecture and design, subsurface scattering and car paint shaders, as well as physical sun and sky lighting.

Autodesk Mental Ray is used in a wide range of applications. This section lists a number of typical applications:

CAD Visualization

Autodesk Mental Ray provides photorealistic design visualization of product data in CAD and styling systems.
The comprehensive support for trimmed NURBS surfaces, surface connectivity, and hierarchical
subdivision surfaces offers the geometry handling capabilities required by CAD systems. Various
controllable approximation settings provide any desirable geometric accuracy. Large geometric quantities
can be handled efficiently, including support for heavy instancing of objects.

The ray tracing capabilities allow realistic views of the model in arbitrary surroundings, for example using
car paint shaders and HDR images to visualize the realistic appearance of a car body in a given environment.

Visual Effects

Autodesk Mental Ray is used for the creation of the most demanding visual effects in the movie industry. With its
visual quality, scalability, and complete ability to customize all aspects of shading and visual elements, it
offers all functionalities required for the creation of any imaginable visual effect.

Hundreds of thousands of realistic virtual characters can be included in a single final frame using mental
ray’s procedural, on demand, object creation features. 3D motion blur can be computed efficiently using

the rasterizer rendering mode for fast, high quality first-hit rendering. This can be combined with global
illumination and ray tracing simulations to achieve true virtual cinematography.

Full support for high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) and arbitrarily many named frame buffers provide

the basis for seamless combination of rendered elements with live action shots.

Feature Animation

Autodesk Mental Ray is equally well suited for the creation of full length feature animations. Any particular look can be achieved by using custom shader plug-in.

Special geometric primitives and rendering modes for hair and fur, as well as advanced rendering effects
like subsurface scattering for simulation of skin, allow to create and render visually compelling characters

Game Creation

Autodesk Mental Ray is a powerful tool to create realistic lighting and shading setups for games. Using the light
mapping features of mental ray, very complex and physically correct shading and lighting calculations can
be performed in mental ray, and the resulting information is output to texture maps or per-vertex color
data which are then used in the game engine ("texture baking").

Architectural Design

The global illumination features in Autodesk Mental Ray provide physically correct lighting simulations, and enable the measurement of the actual lighting intensities in a building in a given lighting environment. Visualizations
of architectural designs are effectively indistinguishable from photographs due to the correct simulation
of direct and indirect illumination.

Lighting Design

Light profiles, spectral rendering with more accurate color representations based on a larger number of
light frequency samples, and color spaces which are visually more precise than RGB, can be used to
correctly simulate the optical properties of virtual models.


Autodesk Mental Ray can equally well be exploited in other visualization applications. Support for volumetric effects and shading can be applied e.g. in fluid flow, seismic data, or medical visualization.


Dataflow Architecture

The architecture of Autodesk Mental Ray is founded on a network transparent scene and rendering database. Any data will be produced only when accessed whenever possible, resulting in scene data to be loaded or temporary data to be computed on demand only. This leads to most efficient memory usage, and together with builtin disk caching and garbage collection allows Autodesk Mental Ray to render scenes with great complexity even on machines with a small amount of memory.

A job system is operating on top of the database. It manages the dependencies between jobs and database
elements, and schedules creation, transport, and destruction of all data. Jobs can include rendered image
tiles as well as geometry tessellations, but also arbitrary other data like custom user data.

Scene data may be changed between rendering of multiple frames of an animation. Incremental changes
provide a way to perform updates just on the animated elements but re-using static components without

Introduction— Architecture

the need for re-computations. This accelerates animations as much as possible and can be used to render
successive images at interactive frame rates.


The efficient support for simultaneous rendering on multiple processors and multiple hosts in a network
is based on sophisticated, advanced parallel rendering algorithms in mental ray.

Multithreading takes full advantage of multiple processors, hyperthreaded, and multi-core processors
available in a system, without requiring any additional licenses. Due to the thread-safe database and the

job system distributing jobs to multiple threads, the performance of Autodesk Mental Ray scales with the number of processors available.

Network parallelism allows the use of additional machines as rendering slaves. Rendering jobs are
distributed to the machines, and scene and rendering database elements are transferred on demand, achieving
scalable performance over networks of machines as well.

Satellites are available as an alternative mode of network parallel rendering in many OEM applications that
contain mental ray. A number of rendering slaves (satellites) are made available to the machine running the

application without requiring additional licenses, which effectively increases the rendering performance of

the interactive application as well as the throughput in the batch rendering mode of the application.

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