This video goes into the strengths and limitations of Arnold.
- [Instructor] Let's get acquainted with our new friend, Arnold, in 3ds Max 2018. Arnold is the new production renderer. The old 3ds Max default scan line renderer is still available, but it is no longer being developed and it certainly doesn't have any of the advanced capabilities that Arnold does. Arnold can be considered a replacement for mental ray, but it goes beyond that; Arnold is really an upgrade. The versions of mental ray that were previously available in 3ds Max simply did not have the capabilities that Arnold currently does.
Mental ray is still available from Nvidia and is still under active development. Arnold was developed by a Spanish company called Solid Angle and Solid Angle was acquired by Autodesk in 2016. The Arnold renderer has many strengths. Its render engine is very fast. It can provide photoreal results in a relatively modest amount of time. Arnold is flexible. You can get photoreal results or more impressionistic looks or anything in between.
Arnold is very reliable, and for that reason, it is a leader in the motion picture industry. Arnold plug-ins have been developed for most of the major 3D graphics packages. That means once you learn how Arnold works, you can translate that knowledge over into another 3D program fairly easily. Arnold has a high degree of cross-application compatibility, and under certain circumstances, can actually be used as a bridge between 3D programs. Because Arnold is new in 3ds Max 2018 and the MAXtoA plug-in is at version one, there are some limitations.
Most notably, there's currently no ability to render to texture or bake textures. If you need to put a procedural texture into a game engine or export it to some other program, then you're going to have problems with that process because if you built your shadered network using Arnold nodes, then you won't be able to use a competing renderer's render to texture engine, so this is a bit of a problem. If you are a game artist or working in an industry or field where you really need the ability to bake textures, then you might want to fold off on adopting Arnold completely.
With the evolution of the economics of the industry for 3D rendering, we now see that there are some limitations in what you can do with the version of Arnold that ships with 3ds Max 2018. Specifically, if you need to render on a render farm, using a network manager such as Backburner, or if you simply need to be able to render from the command line, then you'll need to purchase an additional license from Solid Angle.
You can render interactively in 3ds Max without a watermark, and that means simply running a render job from the 3ds Max graphic user interface. If you do that, however, you run the risk of tying up your machine, and if you need the ability to network or command line render, then you need to purchase that license from Solid Angle. And the last issue is really a limitation of Arnold itself, and that is that hard caustics, or the effect of light bending through a transmissive volume like water or glass, those caustic effects are not possible in Arnold.
Arnold does compute specular caustics, or light bouncing off of a shiny surface like metal, but if you need transmissive caustics of light going through a translucent or transparent material, then you won't be able to use Arnold for that effect, and that's a brief introduction to Arnold in 3ds Max 2018.
- Arnold rendering concepts
- Arnold lights such as quad, spot, and distant
- Modifying Arnold object properties
- Filtering light with the gobo filter modifier
- Image-based lighting with Skydome
- Daylight simulation with Physical Sky
- Arnold Standard Surface material parameters
- Diffuse, opacity, and bump mapping
- Rendering refractions with Transmission
- Building an Arnold shading network
- Test rendering with utility map
- Mesh subdivision and displacement at render time
- Atmospheric perspective with scene environment fog
- Rendering a spherical environment with VR Camera