Is mantra only for rendering balls and cubes?

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I posted up a link to the scene files for some PBR render action from the 3d World magazine a while ago …. quite handy for getting started

R

The files can be found here

http://www.3dworldmag.com/page/3dworld?entry=3d_world_99_s_quick [3dworldmag.com]
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I know what I'm doing, and having ‘played’ with it I knew where to start.

Sounds like a bad joke
f = conserve . diffuse . advect . add

fx td @ the mill
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well, if you see the big picture, he is right, Houdini is targeting the freelancers or hobbiest guys lately with HD, that´s why i downloaded the Apprentice version and see how it works; it is an amazing package to play with, great Particles, awesome Dynamics and a totally new way of Modeling, but when it comes to render the problems start. I have read that Mantra is use in production a lot by big VFX houses, but those houses had lighters TD´s, programmers, etc, etc, that made the workflow better or easy, a Freelancer or Hobbiest simply can´t do that or even worst, the knowledge isn´t enough to undesrtand the way Mantra can work better or for that matter just work. I see his frustration comparing Mantra to Vray because Vray is easy to understand, and you can do scenes that you are satisfied with in a short period of time and that´s what a Freelancer or Hobbiest is looking for (most of the time i think), imagine the felling of working with those great particles and dynamics and then try to render them and not get any satisfied look, well, i think the resul is this kind of post. Just my 2 cents.

(excuse my english)
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I think some tutorials would be VERY helpful …
Not just a spheres and cones, but “real” project …
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Thanks, TAVO, for understanding and for reading the post without nerves. That's what I wanted to say.

I started learning Houdini decided to make some project, not commercial, because I just don't know it well enough. But having a real thing to do I would meet some certain tasks to work on.

So I read and watched some tuts I could find just to start from and made a truck, that was just moving along the field. Yeah, I was impressed by what I've done: of course, it wasn't The Matrix, Transformers and so on, but my truck was following the relief of the ground, his wheels were spinning depending on his own speed, he was influenced by the centrifugal force (kinda :roll: )when he was turning… But then came my two big problems: shaders, the way they are to be made in Houdini; and rendering with Mantra…

I'm used to see how the material's gonna look like how it is in modo, Maxwell Render, Cinema 4D and the like, and it's sure hard for now for me to program it (well, that's another song).

So that I decided to render a test with GI (using that God damned VRay terminology ) without shaders - and I got stuck. A tried PBR example, v_gilight way - no use. I tried just to test to render Sponza - aweful. I don't understand where can I control primaries and where secondaries.

Balls and eggs are ok, but if you'll take a look at the galleries of luxology and chaosgroup - they are not that bad as of here. But when it comes to a something different from balls like exterriors and interriors - a noob (yes, a noob) can't figure it out how it works and where to start from…

(Pretty bad for me when it all died tragically while I was copying my stuff from one HDD to another :cry: )
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Alright, we get it, you are having trouble understanding how Mantra works. I concur with your assessment that it isn't particularly transparent to a new user.

Now, as Mr. Magee has asked, could you please post an example file that we can work from? As well, could you actually ask a question that has information in it that we can respond to?

We'd gladly help if you provided us with a context.
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i can see both sides of the fence here.

yes… modo, maxwell, cinema, even mental-ray have really nice `one-button` solutions…
turn GI on, it works etc

but on the flip side there is a lack of depth to those render engines, so that if something doesn't work out of the box… well, you're screwed.

mantra is a production renderer, aimed at the stuiod / renderman type market.

if you want to do interiors or something use another app?
to a man with only a hammer every problem looks like a nail.
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Mantra has very cool and unique features, that you can combine with takes and with the geometry itself that can make rendering a scene very fast.

i haven't been able to use it for a real production since i am still playing with the apprentice version, but is easy to set things up and shot the render, the value of the lights and setting up a stage my take a little since each program have different values and scale is represented different from app to app and from scene to scene.
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I'm a freelancer and I started using Houdini and Mantra only 2-3 months ago. I agree that at first Mantra is puzzling like hell. I'm almost inclined to use a very horrible pun that its vexing . However, I didn't get Houdini (and Mantra) because I wanted a simple solution, I already have C4D for that and yes, that's much easier to learn. It's however also a lot more limited. And try to render out a animation with lots of motion blur and see the C4D renderer having to render 32 to 64 full sub-frames to get a passable motion blur. With Mantra you hardly pay any penalty for rendering motion blur or depth of field.
I did however, take an excellent Renderman course at (fxPHD: http://fxphd.com). [fxphd.com] Which explained a lot of the basics of how a Reyes render engine works. The similarities between renderman and mantra are huge. So it was fairly easy to translate the concepts and shader examples to Mantra. Since then I've been able to build my own shaders more and more easily.
So with all very powerful/professional tools Houdini and Mantra take longer to learn but get you up to a level which the ‘easier’ apps will not be able to take you to. Building your own shaders instead of grabbing a prepackaged shader from a toolbar/menu is more work, but once you get the hang of it you'll do things you wouldn't have dreamt you ever could.
I don't think I'm able to go back to the ‘easier to learn’ solutions anymore. I just too much love the flexibility of something like renderman or mantra now.
Cheers,
Erik
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i fully agree, You can not go back. if You have You will start missing many things. I have to. It may be not the fastest for simple scenes, but mantra is very robust and scales very well. Try to render things with motionblur depth of field and displacement. You will love houdini's mantra ( haven't tried renderman). On the otherside most other renderers are like a blackbox compared to mantra, unless You put Your c++ slippers on, that's another nice feature of mantra. easy to enhance.

dont't let the beginning troubles stop You. It get's easier day by day.

Martin
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little experience from my point of view.
I am far from experienced houdini user. I am learning it slowly since I have to work other things, but… regarding this mantra discussion.
I had to render an ice cube. With nice displacement… and in maya it was pain in the ass, in houdini it was a matter of few clicks with an ice shader… and it looked good.
So, mantra can be simple… and good in that simplicity.
In my case, I find mantra easier to understand than modo's render for eg.

But that's just me…
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Hi,

I appologize for bringing back this quite old and “hot” topic, but I really think there is a point here.

I am currently learning Houdini, which I find amazing, and, as every new software, it takes time, we have a lot of prejudices coming from the other applications we know (I work with 3dsmax for more than 10 years now and have some practical expereince with Softimage XSI and Maya), and it is easy to get frustrated when something doesn't work as we would like and we don't know why.

Although Houdini has quite a good documentation in a day to day reference use, we really miss some information about the general concepts, the philosophy and about some technical stuff here and there… And I must say Mantra is among them.


The feeling we have when coming from other application is indeed that Matra is quite slow. To me this is due to:

  • - the fact that when we start we usually prefer using the MPlay to receive the rendered images rather than the Render View (it is quite useful to be able to compare a result with previous one, in a floating window, and this approach is similar to Maya), and MPlay takes a few seconds to open when we launch a rendering (by the way it would be very nice if it could open right away, it would avoid us to wonder everytime if the rendering has really been launched or not)

    - and the fact that the default settings of the Mantra node are probably more suitable for an average complex scene than just the few spheres we usually create to do tests.


    I have also been told several times that Mantra is a good renderer and I am sure it is true. The thing is I am not a rendering TD and don't want to spend hours in learning it perfectly just to be able to render spheres.

    It goes better for me though since I found this tutorial from Peter Quint named Basics: Mantra :
    http://vimeo.com/7612064 [vimeo.com]


    For me it is just a matter of putting to the front the right parameters.
    Mental Ray has also been quite difficult to use in 3dsMax because nobody knew how to correctly adjust the settings neither wanted to know the documentation by heart.

    Since version 2009 they did a great job in providing a user friendly GUI that you always have uder the hand when doing renderings.
    And belive me, that helps a lot!! It is know really easy and natural to use, very fast to tweak and at the end makes you save a huge amont of time.

    Below is a screenshot of what the renderer window looks like in 3dsMax 2011.


    So my request to the Houdini team would be: Please, take inspiration from this approach, take this point as a serious one regarding the general rendering steps and do something to make our life easier. It will provide efficiency for everybody

    Thank you a lot for your understanding and your support,


    Best,

    Werwack

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3dsMaxRendererScreenshot.jpg (103.6 KB)

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Sorry guys, I don't want to Compare Mantra vs Cinema 4D Advanced Render,
but Mantra is very, very, very, very, very and very slow!
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Mantra is not slow, is incredibly fast and have a great performance, the problem for you, is that the renderer is not “push the buttom and have a nice render”; It required some rendering and shading knowledge for a great and performance boost render.

Keep studing, the world is not quite easy!!!!!
Feel The Knowledge, Kiss The Goat!!!
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td3d
Sorry guys, I don't want to Compare Mantra vs Cinema 4D Advanced Render,
but Mantra is very, very, very, very, very and very slow!

Hmm … do you mean setting it up or actual rendering time? Are you talking about ray tracing? AO? Shadows? etc

It would be helpful if you could give/provide an example instead of a blanket statement.
Cheers,
Rob
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alejandro
the problem for you, is that the renderer is not “push the buttom and have a nice render”

your problem is, just because you have always used Houdini and Mantara, and you don't know, that other software can much faster to render
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I've been using Max since it was 3D Studio, arriving on my desk as a pile of floppies, and Imagine before that. I'm stuck with using it in my day job, along with Maya, and I absolutely loath it to the core. Every new release feels like I'm sinking deeper into a hole.

Adding a Max style render dialog to Houdini would be like adding stabilisers (training wheels!) to a TT bike.

I'm still in awe that Houdini launches in ~1 second, compared to Max at ~20 seconds (3 minutes on my more abused Vista PC). I'll take lite on newbie-friendly features & gloss for stability and DIY anything you can imagine any day…

td3d
alejandro
the problem for you, is that the renderer is not “push the buttom and have a nice render”

your problem is, just because you have always used Houdini and Mantara, and you don't know, that other software can much faster to render

Doh. You know what they say about assumptions…
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I'm still in awe that Houdini launches in ~1 second, compared to Max at ~20 seconds (3 minutes on my more abused Vista PC).
True, 3dsMax takes ages to launch and it's getting worse every new release :?

… But this has nothing to do with the rendering, which launches fast and is really easy to tweak for tests and doesn't prevent advanced settings.

Adding a Max style render dialog to Houdini would be like adding stabilisers (training wheels!) to a TT bike.
I don't agree. This will be called efficiency.


By the way, I would like to add a few things to my notes above:

  • - We are many to prefer MPlay to the Render View because MPlay has these nice buttons allowing you to see every channels of the image independently.

    - It would be very nice if MPlay also had the same combo box as the Render View has for choosing the render node and launching a new rendering.

    - There is a big missing parameter in Houdini which is the ability to set the background color of the rendered scene. Jeff exposed me a trick to do so but it requires to create an new image for the background everytime you want to change it (which is quite often will setting up a scene, as you probably know).
    This is a small feature that could be introduced very easily in the Mantra node parameters, everybody who comes from another 3d package miss it, every other 3d package of the market has it (of course it is at the very root of any rendering), it has been asked several times (see this thread for example: http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_forum&Itemid=172&page=viewtopic&t=14466&highlight=background+color+colour) [sidefx.com] and still it is put aside… I don't understand. Hope to see it one day…


    …And please, you guys how know Houdini well and for a long time, keep being openminded. There are so many things to learn and to take inspiration from outside :wink:
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werwack
  • - We are many to prefer MPlay to the Render View because MPlay has these nice buttons allowing you to see every channels of the image independently.

  • RMB in viewport of Render View … select Color Correction … you'll see choices at bottom
Cheers,
Rob
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RMB in viewport of Render View … select Color Correction … you'll see choices at bottom
Nice
Thx
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