when using artwork and fonts — the bread and butter of motion graphics. The latest release provides tools to nondestructively create models from text and vector art, refine them through bevels and such, and then manipulate them with deformers. Text can be generated directly in the Maya scene, but with Illustrator files you get the choice of importing or literally copying the curves from Illustrator into your buffer, and then pasting them directly into Maya.
These may not seem terribly sexy in comparison to advances in Bifrost (Foam, Aero Solver, Guided Simulations), XGen (shared presets, better spline controls, multithreading) and a new Sculpt Toolset for Blendshapes. But, in my opinion, the productivity from the look-dev tools alone reaches far more artists than Bifrost and XGen. This is going to save centuries of artist time.
sions, there was a balancing act that had to happen between the render sample setting, the light samples and the material samples in order to clean out noise in the render. The VBAS reduces the dependency on the materials and lights. Not only do you gain speed in the actual render, but in general setup time. Not so many dials to turn.
For rendering volumes clouds and smoke and such provided by grid data from Chaos’ own Phoenix, or from OpenVDB or Field3D data from third-parties, Vray 3.3 can use a Volume Grid Probabilistic Shading (so many fancy words in this release), which, in a way, takes specific points on a ray as it goes through the volume and decides whether it should “probably” calculate a light. When the Probabilistic Shading is off, VRay will calculate lights at every sampled step of the march as the ray makes its way through the volume. If that sounds like a lot of calculating, it is, which is why rendering volumes takes a long time — and why Probabilistic Shading speeds things up.
Other speed improvements are the ability to distribute Light Cache calculations across multiple machines, a more efficient processing of Max’s plugin Forest Pack for natural environments, and faster and smarter rendering of VRay proxies and Instances.
For new, fancy toys to play with, Chaos updated the previous sky model to a newer Hosek model based on a 2012 SIGGRAPH paper from Lukas Hosek and Alexander Wilkie, which provides a more accurate representation of the sky, especially near sunset — or magic hour ... and just ask Terrence Malick how much he loves the light of magic hour.
And for an additional outdoor render bonus, we get aerial perspective with controls for not only the distance, but the height of mist. You can even have the sunlight affected by the mist.
On the shader side of things, we have a Stochastic Flakes material for flakes in car paint or other surface made of near microscopic shiny pieces such as snow, or sand, or Liberace’s wardrobe — or maybe Lady Gaga’s wardrobe for you millennials out there. Anyway, shiny things that glitter as the camera angle changes. Usually fraught with aliasing problems, Stochastic Flakes provides a cleaner result, with faster render times, and prevents repeated tiling (the “stochastic” part of the title).
Lastly, a little grocery list of other treats: A shader for raytraced rounded corners (a favorite of the Mental Ray fans), improved color management in the VRay Frame Buffer, and the VRay Clipper allows you to use custom objects to slice open geo at rendertime, revealing an inner material. Fun!
VRay 3.0 users should already be upgraded, and if you haven’t moved over, it’s worth a look. Maya users keep your eyes open for your turn. [ Todd Sheridan Perry is a visual-effects supervisor and digital artist who has worked on features including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Speed Racer, 2012, Final Destination 5 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. You can reach him at todd@ teaspoonvfx.com.