3d max 2018 with Arnold not with Mental ray
Autodesk will no longer provide the Mental Ray or Iray renderers free of charge with 3ds Max when 3ds Max 2018 ships on 12 April, the company has announced.
Instead, users will get a free licence of Solid Angle’s Arnold renderer, which Autodesk acquired in 2016.
Use Arnold free when rendering via the 3ds Max GUI; pay for command line or network renders
For anyone who followed the release of Maya 2017 last year, for which Autodesk also moved from bundling Mental Ray to bundling Arnold, the news will come as little surprise.
As with Maya 2017, the licence of Arnold bundled free with 3ds Max 2018 will be for foreground processing only: that is, rendering from a single machine via the GUI.
For background rendering via the command line, or to use a render farm, you’ll need commercial licences of Arnold. Prices currently start at $1,220 for a single licence, with bulk discounts available.
Otherwise, the bundled version of Arnold will watermark offline renders where no valid licence is available.
MAXtoA to be bundled free with 3ds Max 2018
The new 3ds Max integration plugin for Arnold, MAXtoA, will also be bundled free with 3ds Max 2018.
At the time of posting, it’s still officially described as a ‘preview’ release and doesn’t support all the features from either 3ds Max or Arnold, so we assume Autodesk expects it to reach a full 1.0 release by April.
Nvidia to offer Mental Ray licences for free, with the same limitations
However, there will be no obligation to use – or even install – the version of Arnold bundled with 3ds Max 2018, and anyone wanting to stick with Mental Ray will be able to get licences free from Nvidia.
As with Mental Ray for Maya, you will be able to use the free version in much the same way as that of the free bundled version of Arnold: for viewport or single-frame production rendering.
To enable sequence rendering, batch rendering and rendering on a network, you’ll need full production licences of Mental Ray.
Mental Ray for 3ds Max itself isn’t available in Nvidia’s online store yet: according to Autodesk, it intends to release it “soon after it completes final testing on the publicly released version of 3ds Max 2018”.
However, as a guide to the probable pricing, Mental Ray for Maya is available on a rental-only basis, with prices starting at $95/year for a local licence or $295/year for a network licence.
There is also already a plugin version of Iray for 3ds Max, which is also rental-only, and which costs $295/year for either a local or network licence. You can read our review of Iray for 3ds Max here.
New licences of Mental Ray and Iray needed in order to use legacy scenes
Legacy scenes created using the versions of Mental Ray and Iray bundled with 3ds Max 2017 and earlier will still work in 3ds Max 2018 – but only if you have a compatible version of the renderer in question.
According to Autodesk: “Out of the box, 3ds Max 2018 will not support Mental Ray or Iray features.”
No change for users of other render engines
If you use a third-party renderer like V-Ray, Corona or OctaneRender, the changes shouldn’t affect you: Autodesk says in its FAQs that it remains “committed to supporting third-party renderers”.
The same goes for 3ds Max’s native renderers – Scanline, Quicksilver or the new ART renderer introduced in 3ds Max 2017 – all of which will continue to be included in 3ds Max 2018.
Pros and cons for existing Mental Ray users
Early reactions in the Max user community – like this thread on Autodesk’s AREA forum – have been mixed.
Most users have welcomed Arnold’s feature set, but not the fact that – unlike the previous bundled versions of Mental Ray – it can’t be used for free across a render farm.
Although this is also true with Maya, it may be more of an issue in the Max community: we suspect that most people using Maya with a render farm were using a commercial third-party renderer long before Maya 2017.
Pricing and availability
3ds Max 2018 is due to ship on 12 April 2017. Autodesk hasn’t announced any pricing changes for 3ds Max itself. Current prices for the Arnold and Mental Ray renderers are listed further up in this story.
So what exactly is/is not changing with rendering in Autodesk 3ds Max 2018?
Autodesk will make the following changes when it ships 3ds Max 2018:
- Autodesk will no longer provide Mental Ray with 3ds Max 2018. Please note that “Mental Ray’ includes the Iray mode of Mental Ray previously supplied with 3ds Max.
- Customers will have access to the Arnold renderer for foreground processing within 3ds Max 2018.
- The Arnold plug-in (MAXtoA) will be included with the 3ds Max 2018 software download, and available on the Solid Angle site.
- Customers who wish to use Mental Ray with 3ds Max 2018 will be able to acquire it directly from NVIDIA. NVIDIA is also allowing free use of Mental Ray for foreground processing while working within 3ds Max. This matches NVIDIA’s policy for Mental Ray for Maya.
The following is not changing when Autodesk ships 3ds Max 2018:
- Customers currently using Mental Ray with older versions of 3ds Max are unaffected by these changes as they have perpetual licenses.
- 3ds Max will continue to allow you to use third party renderers such as Mental Ray, Iray+, V-Ray, Corona, Redshift, Octane and other renderers will be unaffected.
Why is Autodesk making these changes?
In 2016, Autodesk purchased Solid Angle, the company that developed Arnold, with the goal of adding high-quality rendering to our product portfolio. As a result of this acquisition, we have decided to create an open rendering ecosystem for our products where different renderers, including Mental Ray, Iray, and Arnold, can compete equally. For this reason, we will no longer be bundling Mental Ray and Iray with 3ds Max. There is a lot of innovation happening in rendering at the moment and with more and more choices in terms of speed, price, quality and capability, so we are allowing customers to choose the renderer that works that best for them.So that 3ds Max can still have the ability to produce high-quality renders out-of-the-box, we will include the ability to use Arnold for foreground processing with 3ds Max 2018.
Who is affected by these changes?
These changes will affect any customers who download and install 3ds Max 2018. This includes new and existing subscribers as well as customers who download the software as part of their maintenance plan. It does not impact customers using previous versions of 3ds Max.
If you want to continue to use NVIDIA rendering products with 3ds Max 2018 (or subsequent releases) you will need to acquire the compatible version from NVIDIA directly. Before installing 3ds Max 2018 you should check availability and usage policies with NVIDIA. More information about Mental Ray and Iray may be found on The NVIDIA website.
No, we are committed to supporting third party renderers, including NVIDIA’s Mental Ray and Iray, among others. We will continue to work closely with our render partners to make sure their solutions work well with 3ds Max. With new and diverse renderers constantly appearing on the market, each with their own distinctive benefits, we want to make sure customers can continue to use whichever renderer best works for their needs – and that our software works well with the renderers they prefer to use.
3ds Max customers will be able to use Arnold out-of-the-box. However, it can only be used for foreground (in-product) processing. Customers will need to purchase additional Arnold licenses if they wish to scale their rendering capability using either background processing, a render farm, or the cloud. This puts Arnold on a similar footing to other third party renderers and allows customers to freely choose which renderer they wish to license when planning their workflows.
NVIDIA has been Beta testing Mental Ray for 3ds Max 2018 since December and intends to release Mental Ray and Iray for 3ds Max 2018 soon after it completes final testing on the publicly released version of 3ds Max 2018. Please visit NVIDIA’s website for more information on availability.
As long as you continue using your current version of 3ds Max nothing will change. However, when the time comes to upgrade to 3ds Max 2018 you may need to purchase new rendering licenses.Here is what we recommend:
- Carefully evaluate whether you will need additional rendering capability beyond that already provided with 3ds Max 2018 which includes the Scanline, Quicksilver and Autodesk Raytracer (ART) renderers. The Arnold functionality included with 3ds Max 2018 can only be used within the 3ds Max application, and cannot be not used to render projects in the background (via command-line) or on a render farm. For offline rendering, Arnold creates a watermark on the image when no Arnold license is available.
- Choose which renderer they wish to invest in. We recommend that you research and test which renderer works best for your budget and image requirements.
- If you need to purchase render licenses you can do one of the following:
- Visit the SolidAngle.com website for Arnold licenses
- Contact NVIDIA for Mental Ray licenses
- Contact Chaos Group for licenses of V-Ray. Contact the developer, or an authorized reseller, of renderers such as Corona, Octane, or Redshift.
You should now be able to upgrade to 3ds Max 2018 with the full confidence that your rendering requirements will be met.
You will be eligible to download 3ds Max 2018 as of April 12, 2017. However, if you wish to continue using Mental Ray or Iray, you will need to contact NVIDIA for plug-in availability and usage policies.
No, customers who need Mental Ray licenses for 3ds Max 2018 will need to purchase them directly from the NVIDIA sales channel.
Autodesk channel partners will not be authorized to sell Mental Ray licenses for 3ds Max 2018 on behalf of Autodesk. However, they may have a separate distribution contract with NVIDIA that enables them to do so. You should contact your reseller or NVIDIA directly to find out more on how they can purchase Mental Ray and Iray licenses for 3ds Max 2018.
No, you will need a new plug-in for Mental Ray and Iray to be able to use them with 3ds Max 2018. You should contact NVIDIA to check availability of the plug-in as well as any associated licensing costs of using NVIDIA’s rendering technology with 3ds Max 2018.
Yes, 3ds Max scenes containing Mental Ray/Iray shaders and other features will still be compatible with 3ds Max 2018, however it will require a compatible version of Mental Ray or Iray+ to be installed. This will need to be acquired from NVIDIA. Out-of-the-box, 3ds Max 2018 will not support Mental Ray or Iray features.
Yes, a notice in 3ds Max 2018 will warn users who try to load a scene that includes Mental Ray shaders but who do not have a compatible version of Mental Ray installed. You can choose to cancel the load or continue and replace the shaders with new ones that are compatible with Arnold or the renderer you have chosen.3ds Max provides the Scene Converter (in the Rendering menu) that allows you to upgrade scene lights, materials, and certain other items, and optionally remove legacy features.
You should contact NVIDIA for information on support for NVIDIA rendering plug-ins for 3ds Max 2018.
No, there is no obligation to switch, you can continue to use Mental Ray and Iray. NVIDIA will continue to offer Mental Ray and Iray for 3ds Max as a plugin, and these will continue to be an option for 3ds Max users. Please contact NVIDIA for more details on pricing and availability.
Yes. There is no requirement to install Arnold. You can simply choose to opt out of the Arnold installation by disabling the ‘Arnold for 3ds Max’ option during the installation process. If required, Arnold can be re-installed at a later date.
Your subscription rights for mental ray Standalone provide you with support and services relating to the use of Standalone with versions prior to 3ds Max 2018.NVIDIA is providing complimentary Mental Ray licenses to Standalone customers for use with 3ds Max 2018 and later. The capabilities of Standalone are now part of the basic Mental Ray product when used on the network, and are included with all NVIDIA Mental Ray licenses. Please contact an NVIDIA Reseller for complimentary NVIDIA licenses.
Yes, qualified institutions with curriculum employing Mental Ray may qualify for NVIDIA’s Education Program, which provides complimentary educational licenses. Please see the NVDIA website for details and to apply for the program.
Article by Autodesk
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