Since the beginning, one of the main goals is to achieve photo realistic images. When I started my professional work, the main field of my activity was architecture visualization. Not surprisingly a common request from clients was realistic renders and light conditions simulations. I began in 1995 by using 3D Studio DOS 4. In 1996, the first 3D Studio MAX. I loved working in Max but rendering for Arch-viz was deplorable, so naturally my work flow evolved into modeling and texturing using 3ds Max and then exporting the model to Lightscape. This was a full radiosity application that could use IES data files.
Once there I just needed to insert lights and start the radiosity solution. The radiosity solution took usually took several days to complete, often with results I didn’t expect, and often I needed to recalculate the solution and then finally be ready to render.
In 3ds Max version 5, new render engines were added, such as Light Tracer which was a brute force method for global illumination. Excellent for exterior renders but way to slow and grainy. And radiosity was based on the Lightscape engine. I continued to use Lightscape since the radiosity in 3ds Max wasn’t as good. Only after the next release did I stop working with Lightscape. Autodesk announced in December 2002 that Lightscape would be discontinued.
In 2003, 3ds Max 6 was released and the Mental Ray render engine was included in the base package. Mental Ray was a render engine developed by Mental Images, Inc. and was available as a third party module for 3ds Max since 1999 (version 2.1). As I entered the Mental Ray world I realized what a powerful engine it truly was.