Mental Ray
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The projective rendering(TM) is based on a new advanced camera type, rendering from a custom polygonal surface into an UV-mapped texture. MicroWave can be considered a virtual 3d scanner that receives literally everything - any kind of information from one or more scene elements.

The possibilities of projective rendering(TM) are virtually endless for both real-time 3d graphics and motion-picture output. With MicroWave you can project millions of polygons onto simple bounding geometry, bake multi-bounce indirect lighting, project volumetric environments, generate illumination maps, geometry-based normal maps, or render perfect brick-wall textures full of cracks and detailed bumps.

The Projective Rendering Concept

Once you understand the main idea behind MicroWave, the work-flow becomes very simple, with no extra skills required. Usually, you start creating a scene, modeling objects, designing shaders and setting up lights - everything you have done many times before. When your scene is finished, instead of rendering through common camera, you model and UV map your custom polygonal projector and render through it.

The projector defines the way your scene will be rendered. A variety of custom lenses - orthographic, perspective, panoramic, fisheye can be simulated this way. However, a projector can be anything: a sphere, a car, a teapot, just anything you'll need. Probably the most obvious benefit you'll experience, is rendering a complex scene onto a similar looking - heavily simplified projector object. The complex scene gets literally projected onto the simple object which, as a results, looks similarly complex. The look of the scene is transferred to the projector in form of bitmap textures - an input that every CG application supports.

The following example demonstrates how a full-blown, 11 million polygon scene, can be projected onto a simplified object. Obviously, such an output - mere 3200 textured polygons can be visualized realtime.

1. The original high-detail scene ~ 11 million polys.
2. The simplified version with an UV-map ~ 3200 polys.
3. Rendered through MicroWave, with GI and shadows.
4. The MW output, illumination with projected grass.
5. Projected textures colorized in Photoshop.
6. The final output in Maya, 3200 textured polygons.

Speed & Accuracy: whether you render an image in mental ray or a texture of the same resolution in MicroWave, both the output and the rendertime will match.

Implementation: MicroWave is a mental ray standard lens shader designed for Maya and MR standalone environment, supporting all native features, including interactive rendering.

The New Competitive Edge

  • 3D Artists: CG production is mainly about efficiency and getting things done. MicroWave with its zero-rendertime approach will often be the only way to go. The temple scene bellow has been divided into several segments, each consisting of approximately 500 000 polygons, and projected individually onto simple shapes. Without MicroWave, just the handling of such vast amounts of data, would never have been possible. The original scene would have included ~ 6 million polys in total, the images bellow present the 2800-polygon result.

  • Games Artists: using MicroWave, game artists are able to design the next-generation heroes, breaking all barriers regarding the level of detail and photorealism. Now, the characters, props and the entire in-game design can match the image quality of feature films while being interactive at the same time.

  • Developers: MicroWave supports 7 predefined output layers, with several options for each. However, the capabilities can be even extended using custom shaders modifying the output layers, i.e. the RGB channel. Any shader's output can be projected into textures, and visualized real-time.

    The Texturing Process Redefined

    With MicroWave one can apply all his 3D know-how, into the texture-creation process. The difference between traditional texture painting and MicroWave, means exactly the same as between 2D and 3D graphics. Here is a list of MicroWave's unique texture-creation capabilities:

  • photoreal textures of an unprecedented quality
  • normal maps (tangent space / object space)
  • depth, displacement, illumination maps
  • floating-point output (up to 128bits / pixel)
  • MR-framebuffer support, work-flow utilities, diagnostic tools
  • perfectly seamless textures of unlimited resolutions
  • versatility, the same scene projected into different UV maps
  • efficient storage of textures in form of 3D scenes
  • standard bitmap output, interoperability with other applications


    Maya 6.0, 6.5
    WinNT, Win2000, WinXP

    Mental Ray Standalone 3.3, 3.4
    WinNT, Win2000, WinXP

  • "Impressive!! We are buying more LW licenses so more people can use the MicroWave here, and you can quote me on that! "
    Pancho Eekels / Digital Extremes
    "MicroWave is an insanely powerful tool for games designers, who are going to relish the power to combine high and low res assets within the game environment."
    Benjamin Smith / 3DWorld
    Product Details
    Release Date:
    Latest Version:

    rendering toolset
    Apr 03, 2005
    1.0, Apr 03, 2004
    Maya 6.0, 6.5
    mental ray 3.3, 3.4