Mantra is the builtin renderer of houdini from link:sidefx . It is an advanced rendering system that has some really great features. Mantra is a standalone renderer that get its data directly from Houdini. If you like, you can create your own ifd - files which describe the scene much like rib files or mi files and render with the standalone. Mantra received the Science and Technical Achievement award in 2012 for microvoxel volume rendering. Its a cool technology which enables you to mix arbitrary volumes in rendering.

Houdini itself offer the access to several renderers like renderman, air and mentalray standalones. A cool feature is the object oriented structure. You can create a base shader for several objects and modify only some attributes for a special object. But you still have the control about all other shading attributes from a single node.

It offers gobal illumination, subsurface scattering, efficient volumetric rendering as well as wire primitives to render hair and fur. It offers a deffered loading of objects to improve speed and memory demands.

Since version 9.0 manta is able to render micropolygons , supports prcedural geometry creation at rendertime for fur and other geometry.

Since a few yars, SideFx offers HoudiniEngines for several applications e.g. Maya, Cinema4d, Unity. These engines are more ore less houdini in a box. In Houdini you can create digital assests and use them in other applications. e.g. it is possible to create a lightning asset in Houdini then load it into maya with the HoudiniEngine and use the tool with maya geometry. A really cool thing.

Sidefx not only offers the Apprentice version with a few limitations, but as well the Indie version which enables you to use the whole application and even create digital assets for HoudiniEngine.


Sidefx offers the complete houdini package as an water marked free apprentice version. And they are building a large tutorial system for this version. With this version you can try almost everything. Unfortunatly third party rendering is disabled like the access to renderman or mentalray. But this is really a great opportunity to learn this famous package. An very interesting point is that you get as much mantra licenses as you want with one single license of houdini.


Release 17 and 17.5:

Some fixes. Mantra supports NVIDIAS AI Denoiser and Crypromatte. It now can use Light Path Expressions and a lot of minor improvements.

Release 15 and 15.5:

As all others, Houdini now offers VR camera lenses to create VR renderings. Mantra now supports checkpointing and the material library now Disney material.

Release 12.5:

Volumetric geomtry can now be used as a source of light. They support VDB and alembic natively what means mantra can read alembic files directly without loading and translating them via Houdini.

Release 12.0:

Volumetric rendering has been improved a lot. It now calculates velocity blur, better indirect illumination support for stochastic transparency to speedup raytraced volume rendering. Together with updated Pyro2 shaders, the volumes are really outstanding. Instancing has been improved, its now very much faster. Now instances are built at rendertime only, like in other renderers. There are some other improvements for PBR and displacement bounds.


Last update: 01.2021

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