Holomatix has released SprayTrace, a new real-time mental ray preview plugin for Maya.
SprayTrace provides an instant real-time preview of a mental ray scene, automatically applying a user’s settings. The display changes in real time as changes are made to the scene, updating only those pixels affected by shader changes.
You won’t see every feature of your scene – GI and subdivision surfaces are not yet supported, for example – although given that all of the examples shown on the website are of product visualisations, the latter may not be key to Holomatix’s target audience.
Unlike iray, SprayTrace is purely CPU-based – which Holmatix argues is a good thing, in the sense that you don’t need any ‘special’ (that is, Nvidia) hardware to take advantage of it.
If the video above is anything to go by, the preview is pretty faithful to the final mental ray render and updates rapidly. And at £199 (around $310), the price is probably right, too.
PRESS RELEASE (Excerpts)
Holomatix today announced immediate availability of SprayTrace for Maya on Windows OS – a configuration free, add-on tool providing real-time preview for Maya MentalRay.
With just a single button press, SprayTrace provides users with the much-needed real-time functionality to make MentalRay an interactive experience: it provides users with the ability to make informed decisions throughout the materials, texturing and lighting process.
SprayTrace has no learning curve; users already know how to use it! After installing the SprayTrace plug-in, they simply open a MentalRay scene and click the SprayTrace icon – that’s all there is to do! SprayTrace is now connected to the Maya session with any changes updating in the SprayTrace preview window immediately. The SprayTrace window is entirely faithful to the final MentalRay render but at preview quality.
SprayTrace has no special graphics card requirements, instead utilising CPU power to deliver its preview. Even modest 3D workstations will enjoy great performance. The only other requirements are Windows 64-bit and Autodesk Maya (versions 8.5, 2008 to 2012 supported).
[Updated 14 July 2012: Mac OS X support has now been added in version 1.3]
SprayTrace is smarter than other progressive renderers – when shaders are adjusted in Maya, only the pixels affected by that shader change are updated in SprayTrace. This makes it even faster. When a whole scene has been extensively developed in the SprayTrace preview window, a small change in the working space doesn’t necessitate the whole render starting again. This is a unique and innovative feature of SprayTrace, previously unseen in progressive renderers.
Pricing and Availability
SprayTrace is available immediately for £199.