Tough times for 3D old-timers like me it seems. After the demise of Fabric Engine a few weeks ago, today we have to put on yet another grief-stricken face for Mental Ray. NVidia, current owners of the product have declared the cessation of active development.
Surprising? Not really! When was the last time you heard any relevant news on the subject, anyway? Exactly! As far as everyone and their mum was concerned, the product had been dead for a long time already, latest when Autodesk put the final dagger into the chest by removing it from their products in favor of Arnold. as I wrote about one year ago in that article, Mental Ray was once really hip and at the forefront, but it had been clear that they never knew what to do with the product. Even their outsourcing iRay seems like a ditch effort, considering that most of their (former) customers quite likely have moved on to greener pastures and will never be looking back.
While it’s said to see a product go that was part of every 3D artist’s wet-dreams in the early 1990s, at this point few are going to miss it. Personally I never really got so deep into MR during my Maya days and thus won’t shed a tear. After all, wiring up a ton of nodes just to produce a simple shader seemed unnecessary complicated and the actual rendering speed was nothing to write home about. the term “glacially slow” springs to mind. it made you wonder how they ever finished those movies it was used on. in a way one could argue that this ultimately was their biggest issue: They never managed to make it simple enough for a more wide adoption and then their already limited active user base dwindled into obscurity….