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Chaos Group has announced a highly anticipated update to their professional render engine with the upcoming release of V-Ray 3.0. Some of the new features include speed improvements, progressive rendering, render elements in RT, unified materials and a freshly redesigned UI to suit both the novice and advanced user. Currently in beta, we take a look at some of the new features of V-Ray 3.0 and give you an insight in to what to expect when it is released early next year.

Render optimisations give quicker results

One of V-Ray’s most treasured features is that it renders a high standard of realism very quickly. But just as all 3D artists want to render faster, Chaos Group have made a massive improvement in rendering Brute Force global illumination. Brute Force produces the cleanest and most detailed results for those hyper realistic details due to its unbiased sampling method. However as a result it is slower than biased alternatives such as Irradiance Map and Light Cache. In V-Ray 3.0, Brute Force has been given a significant speed improvement and with the added support for the Embree ray caster to further improve render times for Intel CPU’s.

A few other optimisations to mention include dynamic bucket resizing and probabilistic lights. Up until now each CPU core is assigned a bucket and the last few buckets always take longer to render with the other CPU cores sitting idle. Now the last remaining buckets get split up into smaller ones so that all CPU cores are being used right up until the end. Scenes with multiple lights typically used in ceiling lighting can be slow to render as each individual light is evaluated separately and this causes a lot of GI bounces. Probabilistic lights allow V-Ray to make an assumption by only evaluating some of the lights as defined by the multiplier, resulting in a much quicker render. Of course in some rare cases it can introduce noise if the value is set too low.

See the final render quickly using the Progressive image sampler

Since the release of V-Ray RT, the ability to view your entire render from the beginning instead of bucket by bucket has become a valuable asset in setting up scenes. Taking this same technique, V-Ray 3.0 introduces a new image sampler called Progressive. Once the primary and secondary GI has been calculated, the final image is rendered all at once with the noise reducing quickly over time revealing the high quality result you would expect from a production renderer. You control the range of quality via the min and max subdivisions or set it to run for a particular length of time.

Pantone Doll V-Ray Progressive

Simplified distribution of rays through min shading rate

Worried about noise levels and not quite sure where to tackle them? Is it the anti-aliasing or the secondary rays which deal with glossy reflections, GI and shadows? The min shading rate parameter gives you the control to decide which is more important and where V-Ray should concentrate the sampling. For scenes with lots of DOF or motion blur, the anti-aliasing is more important to clean up those edges, so low values should be kept in such cases. For simple scenes such as studio renders of products where the glossy materials and reflections require the most attention, increase the min shading rate. You will notice significant speed improvements if this parameter is correctly used especially when using it with the Progressive image sampler.

V-Ray RT now a worthy contender as a production renderer

Although V-Ray RT moved to the production render list in the last update, it was still missing one of the most important functions, the ability to produce render elements. The wait is over and now V-Ray RT supports a broad range of render elements including Lighting, GI, Reflection, Refraction, Self Illumination, Diffuse Filter, Reflection Filter, Refraction Filter, Specular, ZDepth, Normals, Multi Matte and Light Select (GI, reflection and refraction included) and ExtraTex. Although missing some of the other useful elements such as Wire Colour, we have no doubt the current supported list is not finished. In addition there have been some speed improvements as well with it being around 30% faster according to our benchmark tests.

Unified materials that can be used across multiple CAD software

Transferring a scene from one software package to another whilst maintaining the quality of a V-Ray material is no easy task. Now thanks to VRmat support you can create materials inside 3ds Max and easily open them in Maya, SketchUp, Rhino and vise versa. To get you started visit the Chaos Group downloads section for a handy library of existing VRmat materials. If you wish to create your own you can use the VRayVRmatMtl node. If you already have a library of standard V-Ray materials that you wish to convert you can use the V-Ray .vrmat converter which can be found in the tools menu inside 3ds Max.

V-Ray_vismat

A tailored UI to suite your needs

V-Ray is a universal tool that can be configured to render almost anything and as a result it has many parameters. As a novice user there may be an overwhelming feeling of clutter within the user interface. For some artists, the default settings are adequate for producing a render and for the more advanced users the need for full control of every parameter is a must. Now V-Ray 3.0 has toggles built into the user interface to show basic, advanced and expect levels of features along with useful help buttons to give a detailed explanation of some of the main parameters.

V-Ray UI Switchers

Another addition to the new user interface is the quick settings control. Here you can select a preset mode for interior, exterior or VFX which will assign render settings based on your selection along with quality sliders.

V-Ray Quick Settings

Re-render individual objects using render mask

The final render is complete and you notice an error or you have been requested to change the colour of something. This usually results in rendering square patches and overlaying them in Photoshop. But this can be a real problem if multiple objects that span across your whole image need to change. Now there are no limits to re-rendering individual objects of any shape and size via the new render mask tool. Choose either by texture, selected, list or layer.

Exclude unwanted objects from reflection and refraction

If you wanted to exclude certain objects from a reflection or refraction the only option was to use the recently added dim distance parameter which is part of a V-Ray material. This allowed you to exclude objects outside a certain radius, not the most practical of solutions if you have objects all over the place. Now you can exclude by right clicking on an object and entering the V-Ray properties. Here you have the exclude reflection and refraction list options.

VRayClipper is a slice tool that also caps

When a cross section is needed, the slice tool in 3ds Max is the way to go but it leaves anything you slice uncapped so you have to go in and cap it manually. Not such an easy task if there are lots of details. Now V-Ray has released their own version that thankfully adds a cap to anything you wish to slice/clip. In addition you can specify a different material for the new surface via material ID.

V-Ray Clipper

Remove fireflies with max ray intensity

As a result of very bright rays being cast by lights, little white dots can appear on renders commonly known as fireflies. One way to get rid of them is to increase the quality settings which also increases render times, or to use clamp output which reduces the high dynamic range in the image. Max ray intensity is a new parameter that suppresses these bright rays but only the secondary ones, leaving the primary rays intact which in turn preserves more high dynamic range output compared to clamp output.

Metaballs now officially a part of V-Ray

Since V-Ray recompiled the popular open source plugin Bercon Metaballs, it has been available in the nightly builds but remained under development. Now it is officially a part of version 3.0 and can be found in the V-Ray geometry drop down list. Attach it to an existing particle system and as an iso-surface you get yourself a blobby mesh that can be configured for water splashes, bubbles and cellular biology to name a few. The geometry is generated at render time but you can also see a preview in the viewport.

VRayMetaball

Pricing

Chaos Group have changed their pricing structure and you can no longer purchase a copy of V-Ray and have unlimited render nodes. Render nodes are now treated as a separate product of which you must purchase however many you require. With V-Ray 3.0, the render nodes will be universal across multiple platforms, starting with 3ds Max. In the future, Chaos Group will support Maya, Softimage, Rhino3D and SketchUp. Do not let this put you off though as Chaos Group have some great packages to suit everyone as well as flexible licensing options. Find out about it all here along with an upgrade calculator so you can easily estimate the upgrading costs.

Migrating from 2.0 to 3.0

The new features in 3.0 are conveniently disabled when opening a scene from 2.0 so you can rest assured you scene will render the same as before. For a detailed list and explanation of what is turned off by default, click here. Now if you wish to open a 3.0 scene in 2.0, you may do so however it is best not to have any of the new features enabled. For a full list of features and some further examples, you can visit the following links: V-Ray Overview and V-Ray 3.0 help.