Autodesk has announced that it will no longer provide free Mental Ray and Iray Renderers with its 3ds Max 2018 release on April 12. Instead, users will get a free license of Solid Angle’s Arnold renderer as a replacement.
The news comes as little surprise since Maya’s 2017 release also bundled Arnold instead of Mental Ray. However, the Arnold free bundle on both Maya 2017 and 3ds Max 2018 will only be applicable if rendering from a single machine via the GUI. If used for background rendering via the command line, or to use a render farm, you’ll need commercial licenses of Arnold.
Prices currently start at $1,220 for a single license, with bulk discounts available. Otherwise, the bundled version of Arnold will watermark offline renders where no valid license is available.
The good news, however, is that Nvidia will offer Mental Ray licenses for free, with the same limitations. 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.
However, to enable sequence rendering, batch rendering and rendering on a network, you’ll need full production licenses 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 license or $295/year for a network license.
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 license.
Autodesk also announced that new licenses of Mental Ray and Iray is 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.” 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.
So what is changing with 3ds Max 2018
- Autodesk will no longer provide Mental Ray with 3ds Max 2018. (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.
What is NOT changing with 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.