References of mental ray
The following mental ray references are the important ones.
- Thomas Driemeyer, Rendering with mental ray, 3nd Ed. (Mental Ray Handbooks 1), ISBN-13: 978-3211228753
- Thomas Driemeyer and Rolf Herken, Programming mental ray, (Mental Ray Handbooks 2), ISBN-13: 978-3211838518
- Andy Kopra, Writing Mental Ray Shaders: A Perceptual Introduction (Mental Ray Handbooks 3), ISBN-13: 978-3211489642
These are advanced documentation and there are some more introductory documents around. Among these three books, I think Andy Korpa's book is easier to read. There is also a support page of the book http://www.writingshaders.com/.
Getting mental ray
In my case, I use mental ray at my company. Therefore, I have no problem to get mental ray. However, if you want to have mental ray in private, buying Maya, 3dsMax, XSI, and so on is the simplest way. I heard one license of stand alone mental ray costs 1000 dollar. But I am not sure about this.
If you just want to get a license of stand alone ray, getting the Andy Kopra's book seems most simple. The CD-ROM of this book contains almost full version of mental ray 3.6+. When I check the book on Amazon.com (2009-5-14(Thu)), the price is 157 dollar. This mental ray is a full version except parallel rendering functions. It means this one can generate the same image as the regular version except network rendering and multi-thread rendering. This one only use one core of your computer. However, 160\$ is a reasonable price.