Organization of This Manual

This is the definitive reference manual for mental ray® version 3.9. It begins with an overview of the features of mental ray and continues with the specifications of the mental ray scene description language and the mental ray shader interface. All material is presented in reference form, organized by grammar elements and C function call, rather than by feature set. It is intended for translator writers and shader writers who are familiar with the C and C++ programming languages.

For a tutorial-style description of mental ray, refer to the book "Rendering with mental ray" [Driemeyer 05], which is intended for non-programmers who want to effectively use mental ray without concern for its internal structure and programming interfaces. The functionality of mental ray is presented in much greater detail there.

This manual is organized in five chapters and an appendix:

Chapter 1
gives a brief overview over the functionality of mental ray.
Chapter 2
describes the scene language in detail. This chapter is organized by language unit.
Chapter 3
explains how custom shaders and Phenomena are written, and documents the shader call interface.
Chapter 4
describes the extended geometry shader interface.
Chapter 5
contains porting guidelines for users and shader writers upgrading from pervious versions of mental ray.
Appendix A
describes the command-line interface of mental ray and helper tools.
Appendix B
contains the grammar of mental ray's scene language parser.

Throughout this manual, new features introduced in this version of mental ray are marked with 3.9. Other features which have been introduced in a recent earlier version are marked with the corresponding version, like 3.8.

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