Maya Learning Memo: About Renderer

A renderer is a rendering program used for rendering. Rendering is a process of image creation. It creates the 2D image from vertexes, edges, faces, attributes, textures, cameras (a point of view), etc.

Maya can use various renderers. The built-in renderers include the following:

  • Arnold
  • Maya Software Renderer
  • Maya Hardware Renderer

Since Maya 2017, Arnold has replaced Mental Ray as the built-in renderer. Arnold is a default renderer from Maya 2017.


The difference between the Maya builtin and the standalone Arnold

The Maya built-in Arnold is a plugin program which is called MtoA.

The standalone version of the Arnold is also available. There are following differences between them.

  • The background rendering ability
  • The command line program

The MtoA plugin only can render images directly within Maya.

The standalone version can perform distributed rendering, rendering images across multiple machines. And the standalone version can render images without Maya.

The need for a standalone version

It can take a long time to render complex and high-resolution images. You may want the PCs dedicated to the rendering when you render complex and high-resolution images.

Especially, rendering animations can take a considerable amount of time. However, if you use the MtoA plugin to render images, you can’t do modeling while it. It is a weak point of the MtoA plugin.

GPU rendering can improve the rendering time. However, its rendering result may be a noise fully image. We need to learn the light source adjustment.

Added May 17, 2023: The above description is a thought of mine at that time. Maya and Arnold have improved since that time.

The standalone version may be more cost-effective than an additional Maya License. Alternatively, the render farm may be an effective solution.


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Akira Hayashi (林 晃)のアバター Akira Hayashi (林 晃) Representative(代表), Software Engineer(ソフトウェアエンジニア)

アールケー開発代表。Appleプラットフォーム向けの開発を専門としているソフトウェアエンジニア。ソフトウェアの受託開発、技術書執筆、技術指導・セミナー講師。note, Medium, LinkedIn
Representative of RK Kaihatsu. Software Engineer Specializing in Development for the Apple Platform. Specializing in contract software development, technical writing, and serving as a tech workshop lecturer. note, Medium, LinkedIn