mental ray Techniques DVD

June 2004 – April 2006

This DVD was a side project while working for the Autodesk Training team. I wanted to prove that an understanding of the inner working of a rendering engine would help artists use it more efficiently.

Most training is top-down, I wanted a bottom-up approach. And to engage artists, I also wanted it to be made in an “artistic” way.

The project was developed together with Zafer Mustafa (who I met during the Internet Animation ’99 project). Zafer did the 2D animations and the compositing, while I took care of all the 3D assets and animations.


The format

The Introduction to mental ray PDF

The Introduction to mental ray PDF

The format of choice was a fully animated training visualizing the concepts and the way images are created.

We were showing photons bouncing around, material shaders interacting with each other, and samples of every possible feature of mental ray.

Each topic was divided into short animations. All the animations together run for 82 minutes.

Eight highly illustrated PDFs were also included to explain concepts that needed more reading.

Sample Stills

Here are some stills to illustrate the kind of look and animations used. We tried to make compelling 3D content even when a simple 2D illustration would have been enough.

Models are mine except where noted in the caption.


Sample Animations

Here are a few short topics as a sample of the animations created. Watch them on YouTube for a better quality.


  2006 /  Last Updated April 10, 2013 by Roberto Ziche