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Five technologies to watch: Redshift

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 | Posted by Jim Thacker

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CG Channel is on holiday this week. While we’re away, check out five tools that caught our eye this year but somehow we never managed to cover. Today: the world’s first fully GPU-accelerated biased renderer.

Of the five tools we’re highlighting this week, Redshift is probably the best known. Released commercially in April, the GPU-based production renderer already has a strong following, particularly in the Softimage community.

A word of caution: we haven’t tested it in production ourselves, so the opinions below are based on threads on industry forums like this one. But the demo has no feature limitations, so you can easily check for yourself.

What is it?
The “world’s first fully GPU-accelerated, biased renderer”, according to developer Redshift Rendering Technologies. It’s stable, well-documented, runs in Maya and Softimage – and it’s very, very fast.

Why is it notable?
There are an awful lot of GPU-based unbiased renderers out there (see here, here, here, here and here). But sometimes it’s nice to use a tool in production where you aren’t fighting the noise levels.

Similar to?
Not a lot, as far as we’re aware. Thea Render has both biased and unbiased engines, but it’s rare to see a GPU-based renderer that commits fully to biased techniques.

Selling points?
Fast, and the GI is stable in animations. Highly integrated into its host software. Good documentation and support. New builds are released regularly. Lively user community, with a lot of interesting small studios.

Key technical features?
Find a full feature list here.

Runs on?
Windows XP and above. Linux and Mac OS X versions are in development. Redshift is CUDA-based, so you’ll need a suitable Nvidia graphics card, but OpenCL support is planned for the future.

For?
Maya 2011 and above, Softimage 2011 and above. A 3ds Max version is in development.

Price?
$500 for a node-locked licence; $600 for a floating licence. There’s also a free watermarked demo.

See it in action at:
The Redshift Facebook page highlights commercial jobs rendered with the software, and there are more render tests in the Gallery. We picked the one at the top of the story as the scenes are all freely available.

(According to artist Theodor Berg it uses a quad-core Core i7 workstation with 12GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 580 GPU. The opening Sponza Atrium scene took 1-3 minutes per frame; the Minecraft town, 40-50 seconds.)

Find more information at:
Visit the developer’s website.

Normal news coverage resumes on Monday 30 June.

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