Maya 2016 saw some additions for basic support of MDL materials with mental ray. nVidia’s new Material Definition Language is one of the two new shader instances that can take advantage of mental ray’s newer rendering systems.
a closer look at how these materials can be used in Maya.
MDL also sets out to standardize physically based materials to a single a common format. The latest iteration of Mental ray, 3.13 offers support for rendering pre-packaged MDL materials in both 3ds Max and Maya 2016.
The newer rendering techniques rely on the core of mental ray to optimize the scene (Light IS, MDL, GI Next, MIS, etc.) and use GPU when it is possible, to get better rendering speeds.
The Mental Ray blog, posts a look into using MDL with Maya 2016. The post covers notes on the MDL node, adding MDL materials and rendering MDL materials with mental ray for Maya.
It’s interesting to know that the material definition language shaders are basically closed entities. That is to say they can’t be used in a shading network, even though Maya allows connections to traditional shader and utility nodes. This means that mental ray will ignore these connections when they exist.
That being said MDL materials can be used alongside with other materials and shaders. nVidia notes that MDL is a bit of a work in progress and will be evolving over time.
Check out the post for Using MDL with mental ray for Maya 2016.