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pwallin
01-22-2005, 08:20 AM
I try to examine how much time I have to committed to XSI and understand stuff to get in to a "medium level of knowledge" of using Mental Ray.

So everyone, how long it took from YOU to get familiar with it? I really do not mean that you should know everything, but to a point you were quite happy using it in everyday situation.

Pasi

Shinova
01-22-2005, 11:20 AM
I first started dabbling with MR with Maya. Had a pretty hard time with it. MR shader this, MR shader that confused the hell out of me. I was starting to understand how the photon-related effects like GI and FG worked when I started XSI.

After that, it took about a week for me to get pretty familiar with it. I'm still learning.

pwallin
01-22-2005, 11:28 AM
I first started dabbling with MR with Maya. Had a pretty hard time with it. MR shader this, MR shader that confused the hell out of me. I was starting to understand how the photon-related effects like GI and FG worked when I started XSI.

After that, it took about a week for me to get pretty familiar with it. I'm still learning.

A week is not too bad...or your a more intelligent than most of us, hehee! But how long you stuggled with it when you were using Maya?

What was it that using XSI "opened your eyes" about GI and FG?

Pasi

Shinova
01-22-2005, 11:33 AM
What was it that using XSI "opened your eyes" about GI and FG?

Pasi


XSI's documentation definetly helped. I found out what the emmitters and what the receivers are supposed to be (XSI sort of forces you to deal with it while Maya sort of hides it under a rug and you have to go looking for it)

XSI more "solidified" my MR knowledge rather than "opened my eyes." Sort of like putting the cap on a bottle after filling it up with water elsewhere.

Just_David
01-22-2005, 11:58 AM
its the hardest renderer ive used and im struggling with it to get fast / decent results. still i love it.

Atyss
01-22-2005, 03:33 PM
Hum, tough question. I'd say that to get a moderate level of knowledge with mental ray, one would have to spend at least 6 months working with it on a daily basis. That said, unless you are a TD or a lead artist, it is rare that you can spend that much time on a single thing. So 2 years sounds more reasonable to me.

I think of myself as an intermediate user with mental ray, and I have been using it for 4 years and a half. However, I have not done production with it for 4 years and half, so it's pretty hard to put this into a solid figure.


Cheers
Bernard

FunBucket
01-22-2005, 07:59 PM
Two years!? No way! In two years I'd say you could master it. As far as just getting comfortable with it, and understanding the workflow, and all the settings, probably just a few weeks. It's hard to say since XSI was the first program I picked up, so naturally it's way makes the most sense to me.

To get comfortable with FG, it shouldn't take more then a day! With FG you practically just turn it on. There's always a millions tweaks you can make to it if you want, through your objects materials and stuff. But for the most part there's just 2-3 different settings for FG.

GI's a little more complicated, but again, to become comfortable with it, probably wouldn't take more then a week or two if you read the right tutorials.

Like I said before, maybe it's cause XSI is my first app, but it's never seemed near as complicated as everyone seems to make it out to be. It's really only as hard as you make it. You can setup simple materials, and simple lighting, and stuff, OR you can dig deep into the rendertree and build some really advanced shaders, and light your scenes with FG and GI, and motion blur, and DOF, and split all this up into 100 render passes.

Anywho! To be comfortable with the MR workflow, it took me probably 2-3 weeks. To get to a medium level, I wouldn't say more then 6 months honestly. Maybe I'm out of my mind though. :)

xzevlin
01-22-2005, 08:04 PM
It's been about 4 months for me, and I'm just starting to get the hang of it. Until this past week when I looked into how passes worked I was still pretty clueless, but now a lot of the blanks have been filled in even though I'm still getting pretty slow renders (at least compared to what I used to get in vRay).

v2n
01-22-2005, 10:49 PM
I agree with Bernard.

It's relatively easy to understand FG or GI, but it's not the only thing to know with MR...
As a "medium level user" the most difficult thing for me is to avoid all the flickering pb.

I you work for print, it's cool, I would say 6 months to get in to a "medium level of knowledge" but if you work for animation, 2 years seems more reasonable to me.

Shinova
01-23-2005, 05:46 AM
GI, Caustics and FG are easy. It's all those shaders that are the problem. :argh:

Splin
01-23-2005, 08:53 PM
Well I started with Maya. Spent whole summer for it, you know those old school techniques if you want to study something :cool:
In the end of the summer I figured that it is not for me, I am not an TD by heart. More like chain piece where aestethic values end and technical stuff begins. You can do archidecture visualization with MR, stills with outstanding quality plus it is very scalar and open to use in animations etc.
In XSI I found good environment where learning conditions are best when concidering the available tools and learning material.

So in May I have 1 year with MR behind me. Right now I am trying to slap together my first Phenomena to optimize my workflow. As deeper I go, the more fun I have out of it. It is a constant battle with time and effort. Always I am too tempted to take too large pieces and afterwards frustration hits me. My advice would be not to take too large pieces, but try to maximize your fun value through study in smaller steps if that makes any sense.
Good luck!

SovereignKnight
01-23-2005, 08:56 PM
Mental Ray isn't too difficult; it's taken me a few weeks to get comfortable with it. I'm by no means an expert by far, but I feel I'm at the level where I can get what I want from it.

Now, you really want something challanging, try that damn animation editor! That f@#$! thing is like pulling teeth with nail clippers trying to get it to do anything remotely resembling what I want. Only if it were as intuitive as Mental Ray...

Serial
01-24-2005, 12:04 PM
GI, Caustics and FG are easy. It's all those shaders that are the problem. :argh:

totally agree, you can learn "advanced" lighting in couple of days, but when it comes to shaders, you never learn them prefectly because there's milloion and one way to use them :) . Well that's only good because then you can master you renderings.

about the learning, no one can't say "how long" it will take, someone can learn in couple of hours someone will never learn. But important thing is that you 1st learn the basic of the raytracing, in theory level and then start learning renderer itself.

pwallin
01-24-2005, 12:44 PM
about the learning, no one can't say "how long" it will take, someone can learn in couple of hours someone will never learn. But important thing is that you 1st learn the basic of the raytracing, in theory level and then start learning renderer itself.

I just try to gather rough experience from people how long it took from them. That way I can have a rough estimate.

I have done 3D over 15 years with several software, so I think I have quite decent understand for raytracing, GI, caustics and so on, so at least I can roughly predict what it's going to take from be based on experience of others. Of course it's not accurate at all but better than nothing.

Pasi

ThE_JacO
01-24-2005, 02:57 PM
I have to agree about the 2 years timeframe...
if for learning MRay you mean learning to write shaders for it and learn C++ and some of the maths required for it in the process.

regarding how long it would take, it depends from your understanding of the basics of shading.

I know people who came from Maya's hypergraph/shadernet who got to the same level they were at in maya's scanling in a matter of a couple of weeks.

some people still don't get the fundamentals after a couple of years.

assuming you at least grasp the concepts of shading models, normals, and basic operations on colours, scalars and vectors, you can get pretty good at it with a couple months of determinated stubborn studying.

jaymackey
01-24-2005, 04:20 PM
My first exposure to MR was about 4-5 weeks ago when I downloaded the XSI FND demo. I got my copy of XSI FND in the mail about 2 weeks ago. Along the way, I have downloaded various tutorials and videos, and watched several videos on the DVD that comes with XSI, and the DVDs in the Production Series, which I received with my purchase.

With all of the videos and self-training, working in the evenings only, I would say that I have progressed to the point where I can do very good-looking, fairly quick FG and displacement, and basic texturing. I've learned the basics of NPR (toon), and I'm currently learning to apply a mix of toon-lines and 'pencil-sketch textures' to create a sketch effect with a 3D scene. All of this is covered in the videos on the DVDs I received, many of which can be downloaded from the Softimage site. Another way to advance your knowledge is to apply various shader presets to an object and then inspect and play with the nodes, connections, and settings in the rendertree. It's not immediately apparent to new users that they even have any shader presets included with XSI.

My initial fear, due to the talk on the 'street', was that MR would be a beast to learn. While it was certainly not intuitive, I found that the videos have made it as easy to pick up as any other system. MR has some incredible depth and intricacies, but it appears that I can do almost anything that I can imagine with it. It certainly will take a long time at my current rate to come close to mastering it, and other applications do make it easier to get to an advanced point, but they tend not to give you the total control present in MR. For NPR rendering, C4D has a great add-on, but it lists at the same price as XSI FND. Still, I believe that it can do a thing or two that the base MR cannot do.

MJV
01-24-2005, 06:32 PM
Well to be honest it took me three or four days to get the basics down. One day to print and read the manual, and three more to experiment and ask questions here. I'm not going to program my own shaders or anything like that though. The hardest part for me was coming to grips with the fact that making a fresnel shader requires several nodes, and even the most basic things can become quite laborious. It can also be kind of fun setting up your own node network and seeing the new possibilities for new ways of connecting stuff. It's different from what I was used to but then it's much the same in that as long as you know what shading is and understand the physics of shading, you can get what you need from it as it's all there in one shape or form or another.

I still need to learn more about the procedurals, 3D noises and the like, as it seems like MR doesn't offer much in that department but hoping I just haven't found it yet. Also still don't know my way around where the MIP and SAT map settings are and how that works exactly. I'm sure there is always more to learn of the intricacies of MR, like anything else, but I think it doesn't take that long to learn the basics as long as you have experience with other software and minimal understanding of node networks.

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