"Rendering with Mental Ray" - opinions?


I am somewhat familiar with RenderMan (not PRMan, but Aqsis, 3Delight, etc) and am considering learning how to write Mental Ray shaders. I only have Mental Ray as included in Softimage XSI EXP, and don’t think that one allows me to write shaders for it, does it?

Anyhow, I am considering purchasing “Rendering with Mental Ray”, which supposedly comes with a demo copy of MR on CD. Has anyone here read the book and tried the MR demo? What are the limitations of the demo opposed to a full version? Can I use the demo version to write my own shaders and is there sufficient documentation and/or an SDK to write my own scene files? Would you recommend the book?


The latest (second revision) of the “Programming Mental Ray” book
should come with a demo version which has the following restrictions:
This is a restricted mental ray demo version. Disabled features:

  • performance - the demo runs about ten times slower on average,
  • thread and host parallelism,
  • loading and saving of shadow, photon, and final gather map files,
  • light mapping, and
  • resolutions greater than 510 * 510 and odd resolutions.
    A mental ray stamp is overlaid on rendered images.



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