Originally Posted by cineartist
That does not mean that there are no others that do it. I mean I have not used one. And between Blender, XSI and Maya, Maya is the only one that allows for this - easily. Doing this in XSI is nearly impossible. And in Blender you could probably convert some geo to guides I think. But it is still not the same as in Maya where you can adjust the parameters on the fly to create a virtually unlimited number of styles completely aside from the grooming aspect and do so on a follicle by follicle level.
I have a generate braid along curve ICE compound that begs to differ, as do many other people
And as is available in some of the ICE based tools.
You are dicussing shave and haircut, not the entire procedural toolset available through ICE which is an order of magnitude vaster than anything you can hope to achieve with a set of pre-canned tools.
Lets not even get into the kind of tricks you can get Houdini to play.
This also all happens to sim multithreaded, not to mention be available and simulatable at different levels of complexity hierarchically, and with trickle transmission of the parent element data (proper velocity inheritance, coarse to high frequency escalation and so on), something I can't say for some other solutions you seem to hold in high regard.
Hair rendering is always a challenge. But you can in fact use Maya nHair with the various Mental Ray features such as Final Gather, Physical Sun and sky etc. And as I said even convert to geo.
Rendering in any engine with curve support is just a matter of the engine providing the primitive and shading models for it, and the hair system passing the data along correctly, something rather trivial and for which no application should receive any praise. They all can more or less do it these days.
Softimage has had proper miHair primitive exports to MRay for a long while (first doing in fact, I believe), and more (full custom curve primitive export) since we got it going at Rising Sun with Charlotte's web some seven or eight years ago and had riCurves pumped into 3Delight straight from the client.
ICE Hair gets rendered as riCurves or as miHair or as ASS curves (Arnold) all the time. Once you have output to the right primitive the features you mention are largely just a matter of the shading model supporting them.
MRay actually does a very poor job of it and I would probably cut my left arm at the elbow rather than render hair in it, let alone if I had to use it in an energy conservation context along with moblur, a sure recipe for it to crap bricks until its pants drop (if you can cobble together the shader to do it in first place).
Same (ability to export, not pants crappage) for Houdini, or Maya plugins other than nHair, which have curve primitive output.
I am not going to pretend that hair rendering in Maya is the best. Not at all. But I think it is much better out of the box than XSI. And way better than Lightwave FFX, which is not saying much.
You confuse Maya, Mental Ray, and shading models.
Currently, out of the box, Arnold absolutely dominates this. Lagoa is impressive and has a unique shading model, but you'd be on the cloud, not in a local DCC app.
I can't discuss Blender at all, it might make miracles and bring me coffee, or it might suck utterly, and I frankly wouldn't know, but you are painting a somewhat narrow and confused picture of hair, particularly so the rendering side of things.
And let me state that I mean no offense or personal attack with the above, hopefully it doesn't come across as unnecessarily harsh (it's hardly embellished but not meant to be aggressive), just I started finding the statements a little bit too heavy handed and divergent from the technicalities to ignore this thread furhter
(which I had steered away from mid way).