Price: 1449 . 659 . 4899 . 909
Pros: Satellite rendering, better Final Gather performance and much improved IPR, all-round performance gains. Better file referencing implementation.
Cons: Interface can be slow at times – on OS X you have to restart the program periodically to regain performance.
Maya’s improvement continues with this latest release from Alias, though this .5 update is short of radical new features. Most of the boosts are to speed and performance. The most significant feature is the inclusion of Mental Images’ MentalRay 3.4 rendering engine. Alias have continued to refine the integration of MentalRay with Maya, and while it doesn’t quite match the synergy Softimage|XSI has with MentalRay, Alias has done a good job of getting the two programs to work together tightly.
The most exciting new feature in the new MentalRay implementation is Satellite rendering. Not only does this allow you to farm out a batch render to multiple CPUs over a network, it offers parallel processing of any MentalRay rendering you do inside Maya itself. As long as you have network render nodes available, as soon as you do a test render in Maya (including IPR) the load is spread across the network and delivered back to the Render View as if it was a normal local render.
The implementation is seamless. This is not farming out frames to different CPUs, but ‘buckets’ within a frame. Print designers using Maya for huge resolution stills can at last benefit from additional networked CPUs.