RE­VIEW: Redshift 2.6 for Hou­dini

A look at the lat­est update of the ren­derer

3D Artist - - CONTENTS -

Nowa­days al­most every com­pany who orig­i­nally worked on de­vel­op­ing a CPU ren­derer has a GPU ver­sion in the works, but most of them are not re­leased yet or are not ma­tured to use for VFX pro­duc­tion. The ad­van­tage of Redshift is that it is purely GPU based with many years of de­vel­op­ment be­hind it. Ad­di­tion­ally from a Hou­dini user’s per­spec­tive it is the only tightly in­te­grated and pro­duc­tion proven GPU ren­derer on the mar­ket. As is nor­mally the case in the realm of suc­cess­ful ren­der­ers, Redshift has been through every step of the lad­der, start­ing in the prod­uct vi­su­al­i­sa­tion in­dus­try, fol­lowed by ar­chi­tec­ture, indies, then ad­verts and VFX for TV. But re­cently we can see more and more Redshift-ren­dered se­quences on the big screen. For ex­am­ple Hy­draulx adopted Redshift in their pipe­line, start­ing with the Ram­page movie. For those who are in­ter­ested in the de­tails, there is an ar­ti­cle on the

Redshift blog.

The first im­pres­sion of Redshift for a Hou­dini user, who would have used Mantra be­fore, can be de­scribed as a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence to driv­ing a Tesla elec­tric car for the first time with the so-called ‘Lu­di­crous’ ac­cel­er­a­tion mode. The ex­treme per­for­mance gain makes dead­lines more achiev­able with fre­quent it­er­a­tions, es­pe­cially with the two de­noiser op­tions re­leased in ver­sion 2.6: Op­tix and Al­tus. The first is free, but Al­tus needs an ad­di­tional li­cence, which is dis­counted for Redshift cus­tomers. Both of the de­nois­ers seem to be a work­ing so­lu­tion for the never fully damp­en­ing GPU noise. This is the most ob­vi­ous dis­ad­van­tage of any Gpu-based ren­derer be­cause the com­pu­ta­tion isn’t al­ways as pre­cise as with CPU ren­der­ers. Usu­ally we get a pretty de­cent im­age for look-dev in few se­conds, but for a fi­nal ren­der it’s hard to get rid of the noise.

Re­cent re­leases of Redshift re­ceived many other use­ful fea­tures like multi-step mo­tion blur, Cryp­tomatte sup­port and post FX. The lat­ter has quite a rich fea­ture set, which doesn’t just help to quickly achieve good re­sults with­out comp, but can also de­liver more con­ve­nient feed­back for look-dev.

Redshift works in all the na­tive Hou­dini ren­der out­puts (Ren­der View, Mplay, view­port over­lay, file out­put) but has also a cus­tom ren­der view, which is more re­spon­sive and has ad­di­tional fea­tures like the switch be­tween pro­gres­sive and bucket ren­der­ing, de­noiser but­ton, and colour man­age­ment set­tings.

Of course Redshift isn’t as in­te­grated as Mantra but sup­ports, for ex­am­ple, Ma­te­rial Style Sheets which aren’t usu­ally found with other third-party ren­der­ers. In­stanc­ing also works well with both the In­stance OBJ node and with the In­stance point at­tribute. We can also use na­tive par­ti­cle ren­der­ing which in­stances a sphere on every ge­om­e­try point and the only limit is the sys­tem mem­ory. Redshift has this out-of-core fea­ture for other ge­ome­tries and tex­tures as well, so the weak­est side of GPU ren­der­ing isn’t a big is­sue with Redshift and in those cases, it is still faster than with a Cpu-only ren­derer.

Just like other third-party ren­der­ers for Hou­dini, there is a con­tainer ma­te­rial node for the Redshift shad­ing nodes. We can ac­cess all the nodes there, of which there are quite a few. For those fa­mil­iar with phys­i­cally based shad­ing, it’s easy to build proper net­works. The ma­te­rial nodes are not just fast shaders but mostly phys­i­cally cor­rect. The vol­u­met­ric shader is a bit weak as there is no phase func­tion and tex­ture in­puts, but there is a global one in the ROP node to sim­u­late fog with bet­ter shad­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Redshift isn’t bug free but with up­dates rolling out fre­quently with the de­vel­op­ers be­ing keen to see feed­back they usu­ally fix them in a short pe­riod of time. The com­mu­nity is good and help­ful, there are many en­thu­si­as­tic users on the of­fi­cial fo­rum, some with multi-year ex­pe­ri­ences.

Greg Barta

Redshift has many years of de­vel­op­ment be­hind it

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