Don’t miss the new 2016 V-Ray Showreel!
Ingenuity Studios put MODO 901 through its paces, along with HIERO, MARI, NUKE and NUKE STUDIO to bring pop megastar, Taylor Swift’s latest video to life.
On May 17, at 8:00 p.m., the Billboard Music Awards rocked pop culture with the premier of one of the most anticipated videos of the year, Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Within 24 hours, the video broke the Vevo world record, with 20.1 million views.
While Taylor heavily promoted the video on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the Billboard Awards, the team at Ingenuity Studios methodically (and slightly feverishly) pounded away, creating the visual effects behind this film-noir style video. From trons to explosions to the London sky-line, Ingenuity Studios put MODO 901 through its paces, along with HIERO, MARI, NUKE and NUKE STUDIO, to create what Forbes Magazine called “an action-packed epic, and a major production by anyone’s standards.”
Have a look at the amazing work created by some of Maxwell Renders top users.
V-Ray 3.0 introduces a new Progressive Image Sampler. Fast to set up and easy to control, the Progressive Image Sampler generates fast feedback even with complex features such as Environment Fog, Depth of Field, and Motion Blur. The Progressive Image Sampler uses a path traced rendering engine compatible with multiple GI solutions including Brute Force, Irradiance Map, and Light Cache.
With the new Progressive Renderer it’s possible to set up a scene in seconds and iterate even with the most complex V-Ray features. This example showcases how to easily fine-tune V-Ray Fog.
Faster Ray Tracing
Ray Tracing Performance
V-Ray 3.0 introduces significant optimizations to the ray tracing core. This speeds up calculations for Brute Force GI, Progressive Path Tracing, Reflections, Refractions, and more. Beta testers have reported speed increases of up to 5X.
Integrated Intel Embree Raycaster
V-Ray 3.0 includes the Intel Embree raycaster, specifically designed to increase the performance of photorealistic rendering.*
*requires compatible hardware.
Dynamic Bucket Splitting
Dynamic Splitting automatically reduces the size of render buckets to maximize the use of all CPU thread.
This short video demonstrates the improved rendering speeds of V-Ray 3.0.
Simplified User Interface
Designed with new and experienced users in mind, V-Ray 3.0 introduces a simplified user interface with 3 modes. Each mode, Basic, Advanced, and Expert, can be selected to match an artists’ preference.
Quick Settings provide artists with production-ready presets and simple rendering quality controls all within a single compact interface.
This short video takes a look at the new V-Ray Toolbar and Quick Settings added to V-Ray 3.0.
Advanced V-Ray Frame Buffer
The new V-Ray Frame Buffer introduces advanced color controls for Contrast, HSL, and Color Balance. In addition, the VFB now includes support for LUTs (.cube), ICC (.icc), and OpenColorIO (.ocio) color management profiles.
This short video demonstrates the improved Frame Buffer in V-Ray 3.0.
Render Mask uses an object selection, include/ exclude list, or texture map to control the exact pixels to be rendered.
This short video demonstrates the new Render Mask feature in V-Ray 3.0.
V-Ray 3.0 introduces core ray tracing improvements with optimizations for shading and rendering millions of strands of semi-transparent hair. Beta testers report speed increases up to 15X.
This videos demonstrates a quick example of rendering hair created using Ephere’s Ornatrix plugin and compare the render performance gains in V-Ray 3.0.
New Skin Shader
V-Ray 3.0 introduces the VRaySkinMtl. With artist-friendly controls, the VRaySkinMtl is a dedicated skin shader with built in Subsurface Scattering and layered reflections.
Ray Traced SSS
V-Ray 3.0 introduces improved Subsurface Scattering with support for object-based and ray traced illumination. V-Ray RT CPU also adds SSS support.
This short video takes a look at the new Ray Traced option for the VRayFastSSS2 shader.
V-Ray 3.0 introduces VRmat functionality to 3ds Max. Previously known as Vismats, VRmats are an XML-based material description for sharing V-Ray shaders across multiple applications. VRmats are currently compatible with V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max, V-Ray 2.0 for Rhino, and V-Ray 2.0 for SketchUp. Support for additional applications including Maya and Softimage is currently in development.
This video demonstrates VRmats – a new set of universal shaders for use across multiple applications.
Program custom shaders using Open Shading Language (OSL) developed by Sony Picture Imageworks.
V-Ray 3.0 adds support for the open source Alembic file format (.ABC). Import Alembic geometry caches (including particles and hair) using the V-Ray Proxy loader.
Deep Image Support
V-Ray 3.0 adds support for Deep Image output including the OpenEXR 2.0 format.
Deep images store color and depth information for each pixel, enabling artists to take advantage of Deep Compositing workflows.
Introducing a new VRayMetaball object for ray traced isosurfaces based on particles.
The VRayClipper is a new helper for creating cutaway and section renders. Using a simple plane, it will clip away parts of a scene at render time.
V-Ray RT GPU Render Elements
Render final frame images using V-Ray RT GPU with Render Elements for compositing.
V-Ray RT GPU supports:
- Increased performance using CUDA, NVIDIA’s parallel computing platform
- Motion Blur (Transformation and Deformation)
- Instanced Geometry
- VRay Proxy Objects
- Layered Materials using VRayBlendMtl
- Texture-mapped Area and Mesh Lights
- Skylight Portals using Simple Mode
Probabilistic Light Sampling
Probabilistic Light Sampling reduces the number of lights evaluated at render time. This optimizes rendering scenes with many lights.
Max Ray Intensity
Max Ray Intensity clamps secondary rays to remove noise generated by very bright sources. This removes artifacts while retaining dynamic range.
Distributed Rendering gives artists the ability to use multiple computers working in parallel to render a single image. V-Ray 3.0 adds two new Distributed Rendering options: Transfer Missing Assets and Use Local Machine.
Key Highlights of CINEMA 4D Release 15
The new and enhanced 3D modeling, animation and rendering workflow features and performance enhancements in CINEMA 4D Release 15, available for both Mac OS X and Windows, include:
The new Team Render delivers quick control over an entire network to take advantage of all surplus processing power – either manually or automatically via Bonjour. Utilize an unlimited number of render nodes with CINEMA 4D Studio and 3 nodes with CINEMA 4D Visualize or Broadcast. Users can distribute the rendering of a single frame or complete animation directly within the CINEMA 4D interface and view the results in real-time within CINEMA 4D’s Picture Viewer for a streamlined workflow.
A new irradiance caching algorithm for faster approximation of Global Illumination and improved ambient occlusion, physical rendering and multi-threading features in R15 has been added offering artists unprecedented rendering performance.
Introducing all-new interactive beveling for improved manipulation and control over object edges and curves for adding depth and dimension to designs and ensure that resulting meshes are clean and flow correctly.
Improved Typographic Tools
Significant typographic, text editing and control capabilities via MoText and Text Splines directly in the 3D view. New kerning, and tracking tools can be applied with MoGraph effectors or used in XPresso and edited at any time to create complex typographic elements and animation.
Improved dynamic sculpting tools in CINEMA 4D Studio Release 15 ensure artists can sculpt with finesse and optimize with ease. In cases in which there are adequate subdivision, sculpting tools can be used directly on any polygonal model. Advanced masking, mirroring and duplication options, as well as the new Amplify brush that gives control to interactively inflate and use new draw modes to sculpt lines and areas defined by lasso, polygonal drawing or a rectangle, gives artists complete control and flexibility for adding and preserving desired sculpted details.
Miscellaneous Workflow, Modeling and Animation Improvements
Renowned for outstanding ease of use, CINEMA 4D R15 also includes many new productivity-boosting features including:
Texture Manager– Provides artists with powerful new texture management tools to fix broken texture links and wrangle bitmaps with ease to control even the most complex scenes.
Architectural Grass – Based on the powerful Hair and Fur engine in CINEMA 4D Studio, the new grass material features lets users quickly and easily simulate and add grass to any object within CINEMA 4D Release 15 Visualize and Studio.
Camera Crane — A new Camera Crane rig offers customers a dependable, production-friendly solution to easily simulate real-life Jib crane shots by adjusting the angle and length of the base, arm, head and the camera itself.
It’s easy to step back from updates when you feel you’re happy with the way your software is currently performing. However, even with the most cynical software developers, most updates are usually very beneficial to the user, resulting in improved efficiency and greater ease of use.
Nemetschek’s Vectorworks software is now updated annually, which means if you’re not on the VSS automatic updates, you may wonder whether it’s worth upgrading. In short, the Vectorworks 2013 release should be very useful to relatively heavy users of the programme and a large jump up for those users still running Vectorworks 11, 12 or 2009.
So, Why Upgrade to Vectorworks 2013?
Improved Door & Window Tools
[Vectorworks Architect Vectorworks Designer]
Greater room for custom settings, adjustments and new controls for global/bulk changes. One of the most requested improvements.
Surface Array Object
[ Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
A hugely significant feature – especially for commercial architects, the surface array tool allows users to accurately repeat items across a complex surface. This is pitched particularly at users creating buildings with organic forms using large volumes of glazing units or other architectural/structural features.
[Vectorworks Fundamentals | Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
An interesting new feature, that some may find useful, others a little unnecessary, is the golden proportions tool. A simple device to draw golden rectangles directly into your plan.
Hyperlinks within drawings
Links to other drawings, external files or web links. Not groundbreaking – just great for sending documents to clients and exporting to interactive PDFs.
2D & 3D Visualisation & Navigation
[Vectorworks Fundamentals | Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
Vectorworks 2013 now incorporates some user interface tools that have been commonplace in other 3D apps. Users of Sketchup may see some familiarity here.
Small Efficiency Improvements
[Vectorworks Fundamentals | Vectorworks Architect | Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
Several key improvements have been made throughout the application. Furthermore, many processes have become faster (especially screen redrawing).
Speaker & Speaker Array Tools
[Vectorworks Spotlight | Vectorworks Designer]
A completely new tool for audio/visual event planners. Specify speaker types accurately – both for visualisation and data generation.
Site Model Improvements
[ Vectorworks Landmark | Vectorworks Designer]
An important new tool for Landmark users that should help significantly when planning cut-in and landscaping work within a geographical environment.
Physical Sun & Sky
NEW to R14!
Easy to Use and Easy to Learn, Stable, Fast and State-of-the-Art Technology
There’s a reason why these terms are included for each Release – and this tradition continues with Release 14! These are the qualities upon which customers have always been able to count and they continue to guarantee the satisfaction of MAXON customers and CINEMA 4D users.
Organic modeling is made easy with the fully-integrated Sculpting system in CINEMA 4D Studio Release 14 and BodyPaint 3D. Transform any base mesh into virtual clay, shaping it with tools like pull, pinch, smooth, knife or scrape. Advanced symmetry tools allow you to mirror a single stroke along multiple axes, and even radial fashion. Fine details can be added with stamps and stencils, and you can apply masks to limit the sculpt to specific regions. You can even organize your sculpt project in a hierarchical layer system, and modify mask and strength options for each layer. Finally, directly texture, animate and render your sculpted mesh, or easily bake it into a low-poly mesh with displacement and normal maps.
Model faster and more accurately with new interactive workplane modes, dynamic guides and a completely redesigned snapping system. Easily align your workplane to any world axis, the camera or the current selection, then snap to the grid or adjust global coordinates based on the workplane orientation. Draw linear or planar guides directly in the view, or snap to dynamic guides generated around each component. You can also easily select objects or components by simply painting over them with the right-mouse button pressed.
Accelerate your animation workflow with enhancements to cameras, dynamics and character tools in CINEMA 4D R14. Quickly morph between camera positions and create dynamic camera animations with the Motion Camera system. Gain greater realism and control over dynamics in CINEMA 4D Broadcast and Studio with aerodynamic forces, plastic springs and breaking connectors, as well as enhanced Xpresso control over dynamics. Give life to your characters with updated rigs and enhanced capabilities of the Character Object.
Achieve greater rendering realism and compositing control with CINEMA 4D R14. Simulate wood grain, weathering effects and normal mapping with new shaders. Enjoy faster, more accurate GI calculations with Multiple Importance Sampling and radiosity maps. And, you have even more control over your renderings with color grading in the Picture Viewer and as a post effect, and you can optimize your compositing workflow with the position pass.
R14 offers amazing enhancements to exchanges with key applications like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects and Nuke. Now you can manipulate 3D objects, lights and textures directly in Adobe Photoshop. New options have been added for exchanging your 3D scene with After Effects. And, a new seamless connection to NUKE has been added that automatically creates your multi-pass composite, through multi-layer OpenEXR support.
Work faster and smarter with numerous enhancements to the workflow and interface in CINEMA 4D R14. You’ll enjoy the more attractive and responsive 3D view with new object highlighting and outlining, and improved OpenGL shadows. Easily access commands and add tags using the new spotlight-style Commander. New composition helpers have been added to arrange your scene based on grids or golden spirals, and you can easily choose the focal distance with the new camera focus picker. Arabic speakers will especially enjoy the CINEMA 4D interface in their native language including a specially-designed right-to-left layout mode.
To see more information or if you’re interested in buying one of the C4D R13 Products go to CAD Software Direct.
Pixologic recently interviewed the amazing Bioware team that’s behind the spectacular game, Mass Effect 3. The artists talk about the progression within Zbrush that has helped move the process faster for them and the new and improved tools that have contributed towards these fantastic characters. Here is some of what they had to say…
Of course, the software industry moves at lightning speed, so the tools have evolved dramatically since you began work. How has that impacted you the most?
Herbert: Polygon limitation is now a thing of the past because now most software can handle millions of polygons without any major lag. My primary modeling tool for hard surface modeling is XSI and a lot of my models are millions of polygons in my XSI scenes. There is a lot of software to choose from and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example there are now great tools for generating AO, UV’s, etc. It is because of this that I feel character artists spend less time dealing with technical issues, allowing them to focus more on the art creation process.
Rafael: Tools that have been developed which speed up the process affected the pipeline a lot. ZBrush tools like Decimation Master, SubTool Master and UV Master are very handy on every model. Most recently, DynaMesh is a very amazing tool that helps a lot when sketching a new idea for a character.
Rodrigue: The biggest impact was on time and quality. We can now really go to town with the details on our characters. ZBrush and 3DS Max allow us to work faster, yet also put more and more details and love into our characters with a lot of flexibility. (Layers, etc.) But of course having great high-res models is not enough and you need a good engine with nice rendering and nice shaders to really show all the hard work put into the high-res models. On that side we were very lucky on ME3; we had a very nice budget for the polycounts of our characters and I was able to re-work some of the shaders to add more reflection and sweetness to our armor. If you compare the rendering between ME1, ME2 and ME3 you can see a big jump in terms of character details and quality between each installment.
Tools and tech are very important but on top of it the biggest impact for us came from the Art Director and the concept artists. It’s a great feeling to see a new concept and think, “Wow! This guy looks awesome I want to work on it!” and you know that ZBrush and the ME3 engine give you all the tools you need to deliver it without losing quality.
You’ve also seen significant advancements in ZBrush since you first started using it. How have those changes affected you?
Herbert: Greatly! I remember the first ZBrush version that I used was 2.5. I had to sculpt my characters in pieces because of the polygon limit and there was no SubTool Master or Decimation Master at the time. I sometimes like to generate my normal maps outside ZBrush and my AO with Mental Ray. Without decimation master, getting the best results outside ZBrush was very difficult. The new selection of brushes is awesome as well. With each update, sculpting in ZBrush feels more like sculpting in real clay but with symmetry, undo and “save as” enabled!
Rafael: I kind of adapted my workflow when I first started using ZBrush, so all the changes haven’t really impacted my work. But for sure tools like the new DynaMesh, SubTool Master and Decimation Master, sped up my pipeline like crazy.
I use DynaMesh a lot to concept new characters and ideas. Decimation Master is a must now for the pipeline in all my projects.
Rodrigue: Again, speed. The workflow is getting smoother and all the new brushes and layers give us so much flexibility and creative freedom. One of my favorite parts is the sculpting feel. I don’t feel like I’m moving points around anymore. Now I feel like I’m actually sculpting. That feeling is great and because it’s so fun I try to stay inside ZBrush as much as I can.
How much were you able to carry forward from ME2? Was there anything that you significantly re-worked like what you did for the Salariens with Mordin?
Rafael: We had to re-work almost all the assets we used from ME2. I had the pleasure to re-design the Keeper and Rachni Queen. I did this by using the same base model and with ZBrush I changed all the details and textures. For other models like civilians and romance bodies we added more details on top of the existing models using ZBrush and re-working normal maps and textures.
How did you use ZBrush for Shepard and his squad? How was it beneficial for things like armor?
Herbert: For the humanoids armor, ZBrush was used mainly for the cloth and rubber areas.
Rodrigue: We used ZBrush on all the faces, but also on most of the armors for the cloth and leather parts. In ME1 all the folds were modeled in 3Dsmax and were very basic but with ZBrush we were able to bring greater realism to our more organic parts.
What are the advantages to using ZBrush for concept creation as opposed to traditional methods like going from a drawing to the game’s base mesh and then finally to detailing?
Rafael: With ZBrush it is really easy to play with shapes and try different designs. The best thing about doing concept creation in ZBrush is that you have a base to start modeling on top of or a 3D feeling for how the character will react later with skinning and with the other characters in the game. On the other hand, it’s really slow to do a lot of major variations. So if you don’t have a base idea to start sketching in 3D the work can become useless in the hands of the art director.
Rodrigue: I used ZBrush on some armors to quickly test designs as well as different shape and size variations. It’s really fast, especially when the team is not sure about a specific design. With ZBrush you can quickly make 3D propositions to show to the Art Director and the rest of the team. Seeing the design in 3D helps to make decisions; a 2D concept can be interpreted differently depending on who looks at it but with a 3D model it’s easier to get everyone on the same page.
With the various Reapers you really got to go all out creatively. How did ZBrush help with that?
Rodrigue: These guys were a lot of fun. We had concepts but they weren’t precise. The team really wanted us to have more room with these guys and they are the characters that the 3D artists changed the most. We really had the opportunity to just let loose in ZBrush and let the sculpt talk. After so many armors, it was great to be able to go with an all ZBrush sculpt on these creatures. The Cannibal, the Banshee and the Brute had multiple revisions based on gameplay requests. Using ZBrush, we were able to quickly make them and propose different solutions.
What techniques in ZBrush do you find work best for detailing characters?
Rafael: ZBrush has a lot of brushes that truly help the detailing process. I don’t find myself playing a lot with alphas and other tools. Only brushes and patience are needed to handle the job.
Rodrigue: Like Rafael, I mostly use simple brushes and a lot of work and patience. But I would say that sculpting layers are still my favorite tool in my pipeline. I sculpt almost everything on different layers. With that I can boost or reduce the effect of my sculpting or delete it and do something different. Or I can close the mouth of a character or re-size the arms and quickly show the difference to the Art Director. I do use alphas and Drag-Rect once in a while. Or in the case of faces I texture them and then convert the texture to a mask and use that mask to add some details. When I do use these two techniques I always do it very subtly and add most of my details by hand. It’s just the best way to get exactly what you want.
This is probably your last chance to speak as a team to the ZBrush community. Is there anything else you’d like to say while you have our attention?
Hertbert: Big thanks to Pixologic to keep updating ZBrush with awesome new features, ZBrushCentral is a great forum for people to get inspiration and feedback to keep growing as artists. So keep posting!
Rafael: ZBrushCentral for me is one of the best communities online. All the tools you need to learn are available online. Keep studying and building your portfolio because we always keep an eye on ZBC!
Rodrigue: Keep rocking, Pixologic! Every new release is amazing and the ZBrush community is huge and full of awesome artists. What you do is great, so continue doing it.
And to all the characters artists out there: like Rafael said, we always keep an eye on ZBC.
To read the full interview click here.
Pixologic recently published another great example of just how important ZBrush is to the design workflow within a live action film and an amazing effects studio. Kevin Hudson talks to Pixologic about how he and his team at Double Negative use ZBrush to create the fantastic characters in the recent sci-fi fantasy film, John Carter.
How did you come to be involved with the John Carter project? What was your role in the production?
I was recruited by Double Negative Visual Effects in London from Los Angeles to head up the modeling effort on this major Character piece. To date, it was the largest project they’d tackled. While in California, I first tried out ZBrush while working on Ghost Rider. I expanded its use to build the sixteen Zombie creatures for I Am Legend. I then used it to sculpt Dr. Manhattan for Watchman. But with over forty characters, John Carter was going to be the largest scale ZBrush character project that I’d ever attempted. It was also going to be Andrew Stanton’s first foray into live action film making, which meant we had to do an outstanding job.
We received ZTools of character concept sculpts from Legacy Effects that had been developed with Andrew Stanton in California. We then took these and retopologized them in Maya using some basic Maya shrinkwrapping tools. I don’t use anything tricky for my retopologizing, but use Maya’s World Space Transfer Attributes tool to shrinkwrap my retopologized model onto the concept sculpt.
We then used ZBrush’s Projection tools to extract as much data as possible from the initial concept sculpt. The model was then reposed into a more standard pose and we began resculpting with an eye for preserving as much of the concept sculpt’s intentions as possible. Everyone would have a say at this point and often revisions to the anatomy to better serve rigging would be done.
We also made modifications to proportions based on animation tests using the basic model. All of this would lead us towards our final production models and sculpts.
ZBrush did a great job when reprojecting new topology onto our sculpts over the many generations of revisions throughout the show. I found that by taking the Blur setting down to 1 we preserved a lot of good detail. Andrew, who had spent a lot of time with Scott Patton at Legacy Effects, was very much in love with his characters and was always there to smack us if we varied too much from the original concept.
Was ZBrush used for environments at all?
The Environment team — headed by Guy Williams — also used ZBrush to touch up all the environments to give the stone a weathered and chipped look. They built intact structures, then used the Clipping brush to chip and flatten sections in order to make them appear old and broken. These chunks were then retoplogized before more subtle weathering was done.
What character posed the greatest challenge for you?
Tars was the biggest challenge and a lot of modelers all had an impact on Tars. He is on screen a lot, and there was a lot of talk about the character looking like Willem Dafoe, or at least his essence. We did a lot of exploration on how much it should look like Willem Dafoe — at one point we did a reworking of Tars to incorporate a lot of Willem Dafoe’s facial characteristics. This was often refered to as the “Eleven” version. Ultimately, we backed off from this almost completely and returned to the original concept.
In the film industry, this process of coming back to the original concept isn’t uncommon. Sometimes, the director needs to explore all the variations to confirm that the original inspiration was the best. Or at least, what they really wanted.
The White Apes were a technically challenging character because of their size and ZBrush poly count. I really took ZBrush to the limit and ultimately had to break the model up into separate UDIM pieces in order to export the displacement maps. For the most part, all of the characters were able to be exported using the Multi Map Exporter from ZBrush, but because of the high poly count on the Apes we couldn’t do this. I used the Group UV tool to create separate groups for each of the UDIM tiles. I then then used the Groups Split tool to break the White Ape mesh up into separate SubTools. Even with splitting the model up, it was a challenge exporting the maps, as I maxed out the RAM on my machine.
To read the full interview in detail click here.
NewTek have announced that there is to be a LightWave 11!
Although it won’t actually be available until the end of the year, LightWave 10 and 10.1 users can upgrade to the latest version before the rest of the public.
New to Version 11!
LightWave 11 takes the animation, rendering and powerful 3D modelling, tools of the previous version and adds in some brand new features and improvements.
Another new addition to look out for is Instancing. This creates mass duplication of objects in a scene with virtual polygon counts, without huge amounts of virtual memory overhead and drawn-out render times.
If you’re animating herds of animals, you’ll also be very interested in the new Flock controller, which creates realistic natural motion across flocks by letting you set parameters for crowd avoidance, target alignment and avoidance.
One of the favourite tools in the previous version of LightWave was the Bullet Dynamics so users should look forward to the new improvements in version 11. It will now run directly in Layout so it can be used with the new Fracture tool. This will create animations with more natural, random fracturing and collapsing.
Among the other updates is Virtual Studio Tools, which lets you naturally animate your scenes using third-party controllers. In version 11 you can now configure more controller types, even including the Playstation Move control.
Depending on when users registered version 10 or 10.1 NewTek is charging between about $400 and $700 dollars to upgrade to the Pre-Release version of LightWave 11.
The Full UK pricing will be available when it comes out for the general public.
For more information or to purchase the current version of LightWave click here.