Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

Chaos Group releases V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max

Improved skin shading in V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max. In addition to improved core performance, the latest update to Chaos Group’s renderer, officially released today, includes a number of workflow features tailored to VFX artists.

Chaos Group has officially released V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max, following a five-month period in closed beta.

A much-anticipated upgrade, V-Ray 3.0 accentuates many of the renderer’s strengths, positions it as a tool for every sector of the CG industry, and introduces a new, sometimes contentious, pricing structure.

Power for real-world productions
There’s a lot to talk about in V-Ray 3.0 – notably, raw performance, a new production-quality progressive renderer, and the option to output render elements from V-Ray RT GPU, previously purely a preview engine.

Those new features are summarised in the press release below, and discussed in more detail in the longer story we posted at the start of the beta program, so we won’t cover the same ground here.

Something for every industry sector?
But what’s interesting is V-Ray’s increasingly diverse user base, both in terms of skill level – the new version introduces three UI modes aimed at new, intermediate and experienced users – and industry sector.

As the press release below points out, V-Ray is increasingly used in games cinematics and VFX (the quote from ILM’s Dan Wheaton comes from our own story on The Lone Ranger) as well as architectural visualisation

“When your customers come from a variety of industries … the feature requests can be fairly diverse,” said Vlado Koylazov, lead developer and Chaos Group co-founder. “But speed and simplicity benefit all artists, so they are at the core of 3.0’s development.”

New pricing and licensing policy
One change that some users will find less beneficial is the new pricing policy. Chaos Group has cut the price of a licence of V-Ray for 3ds Max from $1,350 to $1,040, but now charges for additional render nodes.

The advantage of separate render node licences is that they will be usable with any version of V-Ray – including the Maya and Softimage editions – making it easier to use in mixed pipelines.

Updated 5 February: We originally stated that render node licences would be usable with V-Ray for Rhino and V-Ray for SketchUp. Chaos Group tells us that this isn’t possible yet, but that they are currently working on it, and will update customers if it can be done in future.

The disadvantage is that it raises the cost of running V-Ray on a render farm, when compared to the old policy of unlimited free render licences.

While Chaos Group says that the majority of its users run only one or two render nodes, its website also now features a discreet upgrade calculator, enabling users to “plan expenses ahead of time”.

Download the trial and test it yourself
But whether or not you benefit financially from the new release, V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max is a substantial update – and one endorsed in the news release below by three of the world’s leading studios.

The software is available now for 3ds Max 2011 and above, running on 64-bit Windows XP or later. You can find a link to the trial version at the foot of the story.

Today’s launch of Chaos Group’s V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max continues the company’s goals of making speed and simplicity accessible to all artists. With significant optimizations to the ray tracing core, Brute Force GI, Progressive Path Tracing, Reflections, Refractions and more are running up to 5x faster; while the new Progressive Production Renderer brings a new era of fast set-ups and quick iterations.

Simplicity starts with V-Ray 3.0’s new interface. Designed with new and experienced users in mind, three UI modes (Basic, Advanced, and Expert) can be selected to match an artist’s preference. The new V-Ray toolbar includes Quick Settings with dropdowns for production-ready presets for common uses like Archviz Exterior, Archviz Interior, and VFX. Settings for Quality and Shading Rate can be fine-tuned with easy-to-use sliders, making the entire process highly intuitive.

According to beta testers, the speed at which V-Ray 3.0 can produce high-res stills and animations is generating a buzz in the design community. “V-Ray 3.0’s new Progressive Renderer was the talk of our recent 3ds Max London User Group,” said David Bullock, Partner at creative agency Hayes Davidson. “Iterating in real-time should really help speed up our workflow, and we’re definitely looking forward to putting it into production.”

VFX artists will find that V-Ray 3.0 offers improved Subsurface Scattering (SSS) including options for object-based and ray traced illumination, faster hair rendering speeds (up to 15x), view-dependent tessellation that automatically smoothes hair curves, and a dedicated Skin Shader with layered reflections. Now with UDIM and UVTILE support, it’s even easier to move MARI and Autodesk® Mudbox® assets into V-Ray.

“Our game cinematics are usually packed with epic action scenes, huge environments, multiple characters with hair and SSS, fire, explosions, debris, all with 3D motion blur and render passes. That’s a lot to work with, but V-Ray makes it easy to get the job done,” said Kevin Margo, VFX Supervisor at Blur Studios. “3.0 is something to be excited about.”

As an industry standard for large environments and complex scenes, V-Ray’s recent use on Industrial Light & Magic’s (ILM) “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Pacific Rim” and “The Lone Ranger” has proven why it’s become such a dependable part of the pipeline for the digital environments and matte painting team.

“When we started ‘The Lone Ranger,’ we changed some of the toolsets under the hood: we went strictly over to 3ds Max, using V-Ray as our renderer. That was the final piece of the puzzle. We were getting not only great render results, but great render throughput: it could handle everything we were throwing at it,” said Dan Wheaton, Digital Matte Supervisor at ILM.

V-Ray 3.0 offers a number of additional workflow shortcuts, technical advances and support for open sources technologies. These include:

  • Render Mask – Users can define render regions using an object selection or image mask
  • Reflection/ Refraction Trace Sets – Provides more direct control in choosing whether reflections and refractions are visible in objects
  • Max Ray Intensity – Will easily fix artifacts from over-bright sources
  • Probabilistic Lights – Increases the speed of scenes with a high number of lights
  • V-Ray RT GPU – Improved with support for Render Elements
  • V-Ray Frame Buffer – Improved with added color correction controls
  • Open Source Technologies
    o Alembic integration with support for hair and particles
    o Deep Data output support including OpenEXR 2.0
    o Ptex object-space vector displacement support
    o Open Shading Language (OSL) support for programmable shaders
    o OpenColorIO support for advanced color management

Pricing and Availability
V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max is available now. V-Ray 2.0 upgrades start at $420/€300 and the full Workstation license price will be $1,050/€750. As upgrade bundle prices vary, customers should contact their local reseller, Chaos Group representative, or use the new upgrade calculator to see what option fits their needs best.

Read more about the new features in V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max on the new V-Ray community website

Download the trial version of V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max (Registration required)