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Mantra as the sole renderer for production?

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Posted (edited)

Does anyone use mantra as the sole renderer for production?

Let me rephrase: If I choose to use Mantra for production, am I missing something? am I limited?

In which situation do you think I shouldn't be using Mantra?

Obviously I didn't mention another renderer to avoid the A vs B. There is just A, Mantra.

Edited by anicg

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If there is only one option there is no choice then. And if there is no choice, there should not be any hesitation :)
The only thing you can potentially miss with Mantra is a speed. There is no other render which integrated with Houdini so nice, hence it's super flexible and powerful, but in some cases, other renders can do the same job much faster. This means a lot depends on particular project details and you can`t estimate abstract situation.

In my experience of Mantra vs other engines, the expectation was to get faster renders with Redshift. I spent several days to adapt my scene from Mantra to RS (there were super simple material and lighting setup: sun and sky, one shader but heavy geometry, MB, DOF and volumes). The crowds were a bottleneck, it was almost impossible to work with crowds and RS in my case, so I return to Mantra and close this question for that project.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks, I definitely have choice and options, but I'd like to make it early on, and not keep moving (following trends), hence the question why not Mantra. So it's just speed? any numbers to get an idea?

Edited by anicg

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5 minutes ago, anicg said:

numbers to get an idea?

It depends on the hardware dramatically. I have no relevant numbers but what I heard from other guys it's minutes vs hours (after investing $$$$ in GPU rig).

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Many small and middle size studios use Mantra as its core rendering engine (bigger houses uses it as an effects renderer afaik). Yes, it tends to be slower these days - probably anywhere between 20 and 50% compared to its main competitors (Arnold, VRay, PRMan)*. Other than that it's complete, reliable and probably the most flexible solution you can get without digging into SDKs - specially considering the money  (1/10 the competitors' price). Slower render time doesn't have to hurt much - depending on your show - if you consider how easy is to render multi level of instances, procedural objects like crowds, procedurally dressing complicated sets and other similar scenarios. You can save a lot of user time using Mantra. On the other hand, if your show has three cartoon characters without hair, Redshift will give you comfort without pain - other than computers magically hanging or refusing to start due to momentarily 'unsupported GPU' just to render again fine right after that... 

*  - Redshift is not good comparison though. It outperforms anything else today available -  being the only 'somewhat' production ready GPU based renderer - in case 'somewhat' is your case.

ps I would be cautious in front of multiply interiors shots or lots of SSS materials in case of Mantra. Also as any path tracer it becomes multihours adventure with displacement + motion blur + multibouce GI. You better have decent farm in such case (Altus denoiser might also help). 

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If I could have only one renderer in production it would be Mantra. It's an extremely powerful, flexible, and reliable renderer. It has been my primary renderer for many years. To give my answer some context I've also used mental ray, Octane, Modo, Cinema 4D, RenderMan, 3Delight, Maxwell, and Arnold. I can see the value in GPU renderers but the cards don't have enough memory for it to be reliable and worthwhile for visual effects work. Even the most expensive cards have only 48GB of memory which is a joke when you're working with large simulations and complex scenes. I could see a GPU renderer being better than Mantra for certain industries with lower memory requirements (architecture visualization, product renderings, stylized animation) but definitely not for visual effects.

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