Friday, 29 July 2016

Maya 2017....Now With Added Arnold

Autodesk has just released a new version of Maya, titled Maya 2017 (I know, we're only half way through 2016) - which now features an entirely new system for rendering your images. 

The old ray trace renderer, Mental Ray, has been dropped, and Autodesk have chosen Arnold instead. For those of you have have never used Arnold before, and might have some catching up to do, Animation Apprentice student Lee Caller has helpfully put together a YouTube playlist of videos that will walk you through the basics of the Arnold renderer. 

Arnold is a great renderer, and no doubt a significant improvement on Mental Ray. However, there is a catch, and it's a pretty big one.

The version of Arnold embedded in Maya is limited. You can render single frames with no difficulty, but as soon as you try to make a batch render of your work - Maya will give you a watermark.

So, if you are a student making a short film, or indeed simply trying to render out a lit version of your animation, you will no longer be able to use Maya for your entire production pipeline. From Maya 2017 on, you will need to purchase an Arnold license from Solid Angle.

And who owns Solid Angle? Autodesk, the same folks who own Maya.


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  2. An alternative option is that Students might think about learning Renderman instead of Arnold, as the RM plugin for non-commercial evaluation/students is free and un-watermarked, and supports batch. If Solid Angle don't make their plugin available in a similar fashion, I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. Autodesk is leveling the playing field with this move; supposedly will support all render plugins, which gives you a choice.
    I believe you can do a non-batch sequence render with the Arnold plugin, but that means your home computer will be tied up with a 'foreground' render i.e. it cannot take place as a background process, nor to a separate render node.