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FAIL: Maya Mental Ray Satellite

I took a break from learning maya rigging to try and setup a Mental Ray Satellite on my Playstation 3. Let me tell you this was nothing but a very big headache. I did learn a lot though along the way and so I really don’t mind that in the end it was a failure.

Setting out the goal was to take advantage of the PS3’s graphics engine to do render tests of my maya experiments. I had heard of people doing this by installing Linux on the other OS option of the PS3 and running mental ray through it. I know nothing about Linux so after spending a day or two searching around on the web I learned that there are hundreds of open source linux operating systems out there and that they are all rather pourly documented. The rule of the linux land seams to be, “you can find anything you want as long as you know what your looking for and where to look for it.” Like I said before I had no clue what I was doing but was lucky enough to stumbled across a very helpful site called PSUBUNTU. With the help of some of their tutorials I was able to installed a Ubuntu 9.04 pS3 operating system on my Playstation and move on to the next challenge, installing Mental ray satellite.

Installing Mental Ray Satellite should be relatively painless. Essentially its just a little application that waits for commands from a master computer, renders the said jobs and sends them back to the master computer. No big deal, just like a networked printer. It should be a relatively painless install but no, this is Autodesk maya we are talking about. It has to be hard. Really, Really hard. Fist off, the install specifies that you need to be logged in as a root user to instal mental ray satellite on linux, that would be fine and dandy if logging in as a root user was possible. After a lot of searching it turns out you can’t login as a root user you can only use something called sudu commands from a terminal window. Ok so I figured that out and moved on to the next step uncompressing the file on the instal cd. Of course the linux instal file has to come in a format which is non native to linux. It can’t be opened unless you install a special uncompression program to convert it into something that linux can uncompress. All of this has to be done using sudo command lines in the terminal window which is particularly difficult for a visual person like myself. ;But I did it. I did it all the way up to the point where I got an error that said I was running a PPC kernel machine and that Maya Mental Ray Satellite was only compatible with Intel chip machines. After struggling for a few day to get to this point I was pretty mad. In none of the installation documentation does it say that mental ray requires an intel chip. It specifies a 64bit operating system yes but not the intel chip part. I FAILED!! I have to hand it to Autodesk, they really know how to write terrible instal guides. In the end my favorite instruction through out this whole ordeal was something like, “ask your system administator to do this for you”.

When my headache finally goes away I’m going to look into rendering on the Amazon cloud. I hear you can use programs like EnFusion, for a small price, to do this relatively painlessly. Until then I will just have to be patient and wait for my little imac here to slowly render my files. ;sigh…

I have a long way to go before this model is rigged properly

monster walking

A quick maya render of the rig

I have been trying to learn how to rig the little monster character I started building and its clear from the start that I was never meant to be a rigger.

There are a million mistakes with his rig.  Controls fly all over the place and the whole thing is generally a mess.  Still I want to keep at it since its it would be fun to be able to make things that can move.  Its going to take a lot of time.  Until I really understand how constraints work nothing is going to moving anywhere fast.  For now, I am going to need a lot of aspirin and a few stiff drinks.

I have a very very very long way to go…



Another maya rendering experiment, this time with caustics. I should have render the scene with more rays, as you can see the refracted points dancing on the walls behind. Still I kind of like the disco ball effect it gives off. I had fun with this one. enjoy.

sub surface scattering

Jello Cubes

This was one of my first attempts at building a sub surface scattering render node in maya. The cubes are a simple ncloth setup just running as a simulation.


Sketchy mountain

Nothing special here, just a very quick, rough camera projection test I did while waiting for something in the oven.


Camera projection tests

A maya projection mapping test. Trying to hybrid 2d and 3d.

Recently I have been working on and off on camera projection tests.  Trying to find a way of making blendable 2d/3d environments.  One of the struggles is finding ways to eliminate hard edged. This is a work in progress.

The same maya projection mapping test.

This time with fern elements to test overlapping.

This time in anaglyphic stereo and with some random spears to test how the steroscopic effect works on a 2d/3d camera projection.

Mountain Valley

Valley Pan

A camera projection test I made in Maya. The goal was to create a 2d/3d hybrid look.

The Northern Pass

Mountain Valley

The valley from my “Dragon” project

One of the reasons I have been trying to learn Maya is so I can make 2.5d backgrounds for my projects. I have been playing around with this a lot in the last few weeks with little success. I usually run into trouble with transperancy and alpha channel issues on my projection maps. Nothing ever seems to work but I’ll get it here at some point.

Above I have posted a rough background plate of the great norther pass overlooking the city of Wu which I hope to use for this, my second attempt at 2.5d.  I painted everything in layers. There are about 20 in all. So I should have a lot to play with. I’ll post my progress as I go.