XSI for the solo artist

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Old 08 August 2004   #1
XSI for the solo artist

Hi all,

Yet another noob stupid question:

I'm one of those people still on the fence. I'm going through the tutorials, liking what I see so far (I come from LW/C4D). One of the final sticking points to whether to take the plunge is the viability of using Mental Ray. Not because of it's quality (that's the selling point), but I don't have enough experience with it to know how it will fair in a solo artist's production environment. I have heard that it's more of a render farm kind of engine and am concerned that i'll be spending more time waiting than working. Can anyone shed some light on this subject? I so want to join the club!

Thanks
 
Old 08 August 2004   #2
While it's true that MR is not the fastest renderer about... in general if you set up proper passes and logically plan your renders it is not a production killer. The combination of GI/FG/Caustics/AreaLights/RaytracedShadows/MotionBlur in a single beauty pass can really add up though, but this is the case in any renderer.

Take advantage of passes and compositing to cut times down and you'll be good to go.

The price drop, addition of Advanced Rendering and Batch will really make a difference in my work as I get up to speed with V4. A seat of Essentials and a seat of Foundations will assure that I can render and work at the same time without needing a dedicated renderfarm.
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Old 08 August 2004   #3
As once XSI noob to another, I initially found MentalRay to seem a little slow, but as I've experimented with tuning over the past week, MR is starting to seem pretty snappy, and I've also had to take into consideration the extremely high quality of MR's output.

This experimentation was done "on the side" though, since I'm more focused on coming up to speed with modelling, rigging, and animation at the moment.

It's ALWAYS a tradeoff: render speed vs. quality. However, MR is pretty scaleable in that department, and the tight integration with XSI makes tuning very interactive.

XSI vets, correct me if I'm wrong.


edit: what JDex said!!! lol
 
Old 08 August 2004   #4
What you guys are saying makes sense. I can see planning passes for adjustment in After Effects--even rendering objects seperately. I had a feeling what I was hearing was from folks that want to set up a huge scene, a long animation, and then press render. I didn't expect to do that.

Thanks.
 
Old 08 August 2004   #5
One thing to bear in mind as well--you can't just compare renderers along single metrics. There are lots of different tasks you can ask your renderer to do and each renderer has its strengths. No single renderer is fastest in all cases and MR, despite a reputation as being on the slow side, may well be the faster solution in numerous situations. Seach this site for some detailed analysis of different renderers and their strengths and weaknesses. The thing you'll quickly learn is that you'll save the most time by really learning how to optomize your scene for your chosen renderer and that each one will require particular tricks.

Of course, you can always write your own render engine ;-)

Hope this helps
 
Old 08 August 2004   #6
mental ray is not the fastest 1click solution, but the reputation of MRay being slow has been created by all the warezkids who only recently started having it in their applications and that compare it to other (arguably more modern) rendering engines that shine at showoff features.

MRay is an incredible allrounder
-it's one of the best raytracers around
-it has a production proven SDK
-while not as easy to use as some plugin renderers the depth of the customizability just with options (or hacking MI files if you get an essentials or advanced version) is pretty good, rivalled and beaten only by PRMan (at a high cost in learning curve and need of specialization though).
AND it recently became incredibly good at things that not long ago were a PRMan exclusive, blazing fast motion blur and displacment.
-on top of all this, if you really need a still picture showoff it can still do it.

it will not be as fast as Vray at blurry reflections (partly also because in that case the shaders around are mediocre, but somebody is planning a fairly fast freebie) or global illumination.
but it has both, unlike PRMan whose raytracer is still primitive and completely separated from the core, and it also does the important things right.

I know showoff features are cool on galleries, but at the end of the day I need good AA, MotionBlur, Displacment, volumic/deep shadow maps and a proper node based material system all the time, and those can't be faked, and those in MRay are REALLY FAST.
pretty reflections... maybe once or twice a year and I can blur a reflection map and go scanline.

MRay isn't a pretty stills rendering engine, but paired up with the rendertree it's a brillant tool ESPECIALLY if you are on your own.
granted that it takes some learning, but so does almost everything worth using in my experience, and anyway we are not talking years of studying mathematics, only very basic understanding of rendering principles.
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Last edited by ThEJacO : 08 August 2004 at 04:13 AM.
 
Old 08 August 2004   #7
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO:
I know showoff features are cool on galleries, but at the end of the day I need good AA, MotionBlur, Displacment, volumic/deep shadow maps and a proper node based material system all the time, and those can't be faked, and those in MRay are REALLY FAST.

That's what I was hoping for.

I've actually been working texturing tutorials and am really impressed with the power.

Thanks for the input.
 
Old 08 August 2004   #8
btw in your place, if I had to absolutely sell one of the tools I had, I would sell LW.
C4D is a rapidly evolving application, and it can complement XSI much better then LW.

also I think the best definition of what MRay IS NOT is "a print rendering engine", but C4D's engine can be pretty good for that side of business.
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Old 08 August 2004   #9
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: also I think the best definition of what MRay IS NOT is "a print rendering engine", but C4D's engine can be pretty good for that side of business.

raffaelle... are you saying that MR is not suited to print, or just not intended for print? Please elaborate, because I find the MR rendered images in publications and books like Expose to be perfectly executed print renders.
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Old 08 August 2004   #10
For print work I find XSI's ability to tweek it's AA settings to be a major boost to what I am used to. I've not yet found a situation where I couldn't blend those pesky overblown jaggy pixels that boarder dark areas. Filtering with depth also gives a much more pleasing look.

Where C4D probably scores a little better for print work is it's ability to automatically (or with just a little work), produce correctly layered Photoshop PSD files.
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Old 08 August 2004   #11
Originally Posted by JDex: raffaelle... are you saying that MR is not suited to print, or just not intended for print? Please elaborate, because I find the MR rendered images in publications and books like Expose to be perfectly executed print renders.
with that I meant that when you work for print you rarely need the things where MRay is world class, and many others are not. reliable scanline, motionblur, shadow maps, extensive SDK...

all things to save time, resources and problems in rendering during animations, while for print results one usually wants things that save time during execution and no-brainers to setup.
on an animation you will get away with the lousiest reflection maps and the most improbable shadows, on print, especially architecture prints and stills, I've seen a completely different execution process and focus from most artist. In that case one's got to admit that one click solution DO have a place in the market, a large one too at that.

MRay will obviously get you anywhere quality wise and colors wise, but so would do Maya's default engine, or anything else, if you don't animate. People usually want to get there as quickly as possible, fire a single rendering and go to sleep.

I put it between quotes because it was sort of a blanket statment, take it with a pinch of salt
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Old 08 August 2004   #12
Yeah. I wasn't planning on giving up C4d. It is easy to use and they do listen to users. And the render passes -> photoshop is awesome. At the moment we're just wrestling with the CA tools.
 
Old 08 August 2004   #13
Well a Lightwave user here as well.
I am just barely working through the tutorials on the XSI 4 Demo. The Layout is a whole new world to figure out but it's better to make a move now than later. Do the DVDs in the current Foundation package do a better job than the html tutorials?

Thanks,

richcz3
 
Old 08 August 2004   #14
I've heard the DVD bundle in fantastic. Completely packed with great info.
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Old 08 August 2004   #15
Originally Posted by richcz3: Well a Lightwave user here as well.
I am just barely working through the tutorials on the XSI 4 Demo. The Layout is a whole new world to figure out but it's better to make a move now than later. Do the DVDs in the current Foundation package do a better job than the html tutorials?

Thanks,

richcz3


you can read my review at cgnetworks
 
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