Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 Posted by Jim Thacker

RandomControl releases Arion 2.0

Arion 2.0 running as an ActiveShade renderer inside 3ds Max. See more demo videos on YouTube.

RandomControl has released Arion 2.0: a major update to its hybrid CPU/GPU physically based renderer.

There are a lot of new features in Arion 2.0, so we’d encourage you to read the full list on the company’s website (link below) – but highlights include physically correct motion blur, DoF, plus render-time subdivision surfaces and micro-polygon displacement (there are three different models for the latter).

A number of new light types have been added, including IES lights (with the option to paint custom falloff profiles), unbiased spotlights and self-illuminated objects; and an atmospheric lighting solution.

Another interesting new feature is ‘participating media’ (light scattering by atmospheric particles): a system based on Arion’s existing subsurface scattering solution.

Taking over where fryrender left off
As we reported last year, Arion now incorporates the single sheet subsurface scattering (S5) system originally developed in fryrender, Arion’s sister product.

Arion 2.0 goes a step further: according to the FAQs: “Arion has absorbed fryrender. Therefore, from now on, there is only Arion 2.0.”

Improved performance in production
Performance has also been improved in Arion 2.0, with a new raytracing algorithm to minimise ‘warm up time’; and support for render-time instancing.

Support for a “virtually unlimited” number of models, objects or textures per scene, originally added in Arion 1.6, also makes its way into the new release.

An animation rendered in Max Live. Unlike the old 3ds Max exporter, it’s a self-contained product, and does not require the standalone edition of Arion – but it’s actually cheaper than Arion 1.x.

Now mainly for 3ds Max and Softimage
Whereas previous releases of Arion supported most major 3D packages, RandomControl has now discontinued dedicated support for everything but 3ds Max and Softimage.

Users of those packages can buy the new Max Live and XSI Live editions. Unlike the old exporters, they aren’t plugins: they actually replace the standalone edition.

The standalone edition still exists, but that limits you to OBJ import: the old export plugins are discontinued.

Changes in pricing policy
To reflect these changes, RandomControl has also changed its pricing policy – and reduced the cost of the software quite significantly from the old starter price of €795 (around $995).

The standalone edition of Arion 2.0 is available now, price €195 ($245). The non-commercial learning edition costs €95 ($120), as does an upgrade from either Arion 1.x or fryrender 1.x.

Max Live costs €595 ($745), and is compatible with 3ds Max 2010 and above; an upgrade from Arion or fryrender 1.x costs €195 ($245). XSI Live is due out at the end of the year.

With all of the editions, you’ll need a CUDA graphics card to get the most out of the software: Arion will work with other GPUs, but will render using the CPU alone.

Read a full list of new features in Arion 2.0

Read a more detailed explanation of the changes to pricing policy and software support

See demo videos of Arion 2.0 and Max Live on RandomControl’s YouTube channel