Overview of Mental Ray


Mental Ray is a “high performance, photorealistic rendering software that produces images of unsurpassed realism from computer-aided design and digital content creation data, by relying on patented and proprietary ray tracing algorithms”[1]. “Rendering is the process of generating an image from a model by means of computer programs”[2] It is used as a rendering program to create production-quality rendering applications and has been used for many feature length films.


Mental Ray uses ray tracing. Ray tracing is a “technique used for generating an image by tracing the path of light through pixels in an image plane and simulating the effects of its encounters with virtual objects”[3].


Mental Images in Berlin, Germany founded in 1886 first developed Mental Ray. It was eventually bought by NVIDIA in December 2007. “It supports ray tracing to generate images”[4].  Mental Ray has many features, however its main feature is “the achievement of high performance through parallelism on both multiprocessor machines and render farms”[5].


Mental Ray also uses acceleration techniques as well as supports caustics and physically correct simulation. All sorts of surfaces can be simulated within this renderer. It is designed to be integrated into a third party application. Such programs that are integrated with Mental Ray include:

–       Maya

–       3D Studio Max

–       AutoCAD

–       Cinema 4D & Rivet

–       SoftimageIXSI

–       Houdini

–       SolidWorks

–       CATIA


It is a rendering program that “is fully programmable and infinitely variable”[6]. This allows geometric elements to be created, elements such as procedural textures, bump and displacement maps, atmosphere and volume effects, environments, camera lenses, and light sources. It also supports geometric primitives such as polygons and NURBS.


This, in short, is the history and features of the rendering program Mental Ray.

[1] NVIDIA ARC GmbH, accessed 28/2/13 <http://www.nvidia-arc.com/products/mental-ray.html&gt;

[2] Wikipedia, accessed 28/2/13, last modified 21/2/13 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendering_(computer_graphics)&gt;

[3] Wikipedia, accessed 28/2/13, last modified 24/2/13 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_tracing_(graphics)&gt;

[4] Wikipedia, accessed 28/2/13, last modified 26/2/13 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_ray&gt;

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.


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