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Thoughts on mantra Oct. 13, 2017, 5:50 a.m.

@amm, Olaf Finkbeiner: I tried the SSS in the classic shader, it's not faster however. I made a test with slightly lowered noise threshold to be closer to Vrays result, see below. I did not try the deprecated mode yet.

Well I meant exactly the ‘deprecated’ mode - that is, Physical SSS. Otherwise, yeah you'll get exactly the same H 16 ‘PBR’ subsurface thing.

Thoughts on mantra Oct. 12, 2017, 7:05 p.m.

Perhaps to give a chance to Physical sss, it's part of Mantra Classic shader. Something like single scatter with enabled spectral gradient, should give a well known BSSRDF look. Still, it will need higher quality settings, but it is usable, without fireflies and such.
Subsurface shader in H 16 relies on indirect rays which seems to be over optimistic for Mantra capabilities. Also it seems to be almost impossible to get a rich spectral effect, nicely noticeable with V-Ray subsurface, unless using two or three shaders on top of each other, which is then close to impossible to get clean.
Unfortunately, IMO H 16 introduced several step-backs, compared to earlier versions, like that unhappy sss, Mat network horrible to manage, insisting on crippled (un)principled shader. Future looked brighter in times of H 14.

Animation in Houdini viable? Sept. 30, 2017, 2:23 p.m.

Jim Rutherford
or can't play back at real time a fully lit final model with deformations and cloth and what have you (personally I haven't seen anything that can do that outside of a canned softimage demo) seems a little silly.

Just for info, interactive simulation playback [] is existing feature in Maya or Softimage, i think also in Blender to some extent. Of course this depends of complexity of simulation, engine and so on. Some forms of automatized under-the-hood simulation and caching, are traditional part of 3d apps (if ‘simulation’ means calculation based on result of previous frame) like IK solvers on more than two bones (while usual 2 bone ik chain is not, as it could be based on plain triangle formulas).

Anyway, I think, no one said ‘unusable’. Let's say that slow animation playback does not help, in any way. For small reverse example, Creation Graph in 3d Studio Max can do beautiful results, but it can not compile automatically in Houdini way, so not that much of good reputation in start, when it comes to Max's MCG.

Simulation playback is off-topic here, IMO.

If ‘softimage demo’ was a Syflex example with female dancer, exactly this one can't do interactive playback, Syflex is very external plugin. While ICE can go interactively, as well as some plugins, MtSpring and such.