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Rule of Thumb on When to Favour Mantra over Arnold

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No time to test or look up details: can we take shader setups from Maya to Arnold / Xsi to Arnold automagically? i.e. sharing assets 

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Hi Frederic,

 

Very nice of you to jump in!

 

So, first, let me specify the version I am using: or actually try (because I have removed the plugin from my test computer now). Last week, I downloaded version htoa 1.0.0 for 13.0.509 (win/vc11). Watermark mode (so everywhere I could, I checked "skip license check"). I don't remember seing a "r" prefix then but I see now that it's r990 (can there be more than 2 builds for the same 1.0.0 version?). I used the installation procedure from SA's wiki. My first comment is here: relatively not so simple an installation. Maybe that's where I screwed up. But I should not be allowed to screw an installation up so easily if that is the case… My main problem is with interactive/viewport rendering: I had to kick an (houdini-exported) ass from the CLI every time I wanted to test a render, because nothing else would work. But that must have been me because I see plenty of screenshots of it working perfectly on the wiki.

 

After that, there is the problem of not offering a quicker (if not plain dirty) way of using Houdini lights and (at least) harmonize shader inputs from a Mantra perspective.

 

That's where I'm at, right now. I can say that Arnold speed is impressive out of the box. So I understand where commercial projects with their crazy-thight deadlines and dedicated sysadmins might benefit from it (really). But for a single Houdini lookdev/shading/lighting workstation, I kind of lean towards Mantra for the moment.

 

Vincent

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Guest tar

My experience with OsX was super easy- download, move to a folder, edit Env file to include HtoA path - done! Super small download size too. 56Mb. 

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No time to test or look up details: can we take shader setups from Maya to Arnold / Xsi to Arnold automagically? i.e. sharing assets 

 

You can share .ass files, that can contain geometry and shaders, see https://support.solidangle.com/x/9Ai (wip)

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Hi Frederic,

 

Very nice of you to jump in!

 

So, first, let me specify the version I am using: or actually try (because I have removed the plugin from my test computer now). Last week, I downloaded version htoa 1.0.0 for 13.0.509 (win/vc11). Watermark mode (so everywhere I could, I checked "skip license check"). I don't remember seing a "r" prefix then but I see now that it's r990 (can there be more than 2 builds for the same 1.0.0 version?). I used the installation procedure from SA's wiki. My first comment is here: relatively not so simple an installation. Maybe that's where I screwed up. But I should not be allowed to screw an installation up so easily if that is the case… My main problem is with interactive/viewport rendering: I had to kick an (houdini-exported) ass from the CLI every time I wanted to test a render, because nothing else would work. But that must have been me because I see plenty of screenshots of it working perfectly on the wiki.

 

After that, there is the problem of not offering a quicker (if not plain dirty) way of using Houdini lights and (at least) harmonize shader inputs from a Mantra perspective.

 

That's where I'm at, right now. I can say that Arnold speed is impressive out of the box. So I understand where commercial projects with their crazy-thight deadlines and dedicated sysadmins might benefit from it (really). But for a single Houdini lookdev/shading/lighting workstation, I kind of lean towards Mantra for the moment.

 

Vincent

 

Lots of issues / questions here :)

 

- it's not strictly necessary to toggle "skip_license_check" unless you want to avoid a long timeout or checking out a license

- HtoA 1.0.0 is r990, but there can be different revision numbers, but generally it's for test builds, not for releases

- I'm working on an installer to make it simpler, but installing a complex plugin for Houdini can be tricky, as many things can fail. Do not hesitate to request installation support from Solid Angle.

- You should not have the export ASS / kick ASS externally to view your renders! The render region, render view or MPlay should just work. Something is definitely wrong with your install here.

- Houdini lights compatibility helpers are planned and have been requested in the past, but a lot of their parameters do not make sense in Arnold so I decided to have Arnold specific lights (like in SItoA) to avoid questions about unsupported parameters (like in MtoA)

- I'm not sure what you mean by "hamonize shader inputs from a Mantra perspective" but the Arnold VOP context is very different from the other VOP networks, it supports only Arnold shaders (plus a few helper VOPs). It's really showing what will be exported in the Arnold scene.

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I will look at all of this in the next couple of days (and I will formulate my "compatibility" wish list better). Having an installer will make me move faster for sure! ;-)

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So, I redid the installation from scratch and it works now. Not sure exactly what it was, but I don't remember putting forward slashes in the paths. Maybe that's what it was.

 

I'm trying to have Arnold generate deep EXRs and also use interactive display. Is that possible? If I put a file name in "Output Picture", I don't get anything in "Render View" and nothing in the console either, so it's difficult to monitor the render process.

 

But if I hit render from "Render View", I can't find how to save deep EXR files…

 

After that, I guess I'll be all set to do some tests!

 

V

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The log displays warning only by default to speed up IPR, as because output to the console is very costly on Windows. You can enable change the log level in the Diagnostics tab.

 

Apart from that, I can render in the render view with a filename specified in "Output Picture", you need to hit "Render" in the render view, not the ROP of course.

 

Can you send a small repro scene?

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I will try that in a couple of minutes, but it didn't seem to work (rendering from render view with "output picture" set to sequence of deep EXR files). But I will retry soon.

 

For now, I am using the sample Pyro scene from the wiki but I will do basic lookdev on stock models ans some sims in the next couple of weeks to compare between Arnold and Mantra and will report back here.

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I just retried starting a render from the render view with a path specified in "output picture" and and "openexr - deep" in "image format" and no file is created. If i click on render from the ROP, I get the file, but no interactive rendering display.

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Yes, that's the expected behavior. If you do this with a Mantra ROP instead it behaves the same doesn't it?

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Guest tar

Yep - sounds like Arnold is working as expected.

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is there a way to output a deep exr once render is finished when started from the render view? thanks.

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With Mantra, when my ROP's "Ouput Picture" is set to "ip", "Output Device" to "Open EXR", "Deep Resolver" to "Deep Camera Map" and "DCM File Name" to "$HIP/$HIPNAME:r.$OS.$F4.exr", I get both a interactive display with MPlay and a deep EXR file as per the path specified.

 

Unless mistaken, I cannot get visual feedback on the rendering process if I want a deep EXR file saved to disk. And I have to check that "hick.exe" does't appear in the Task Manager to know for sure that the render process is finished.

 

Is it possible to get a visual feedback from Arnold AND get a deep EXR output both at the same time, somehow?

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Here is my use case: for simple lookdev, I want to output deep data along with 2D images destined to the lookbook because I want to see how the geometry and textures translate into deep to make sure they are suited for compositing. In order to do that with Arnold, one has to render the deep data separately once satisfied with the 2D look of the scene through the Render View. I need to investigate how much time Mantra's workflow actually saves, but I'm guessing it's non-negligible.

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