Friday, June 27th, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

Five technologies to watch: Mitsuba

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: an open-source tool on the cutting edge of rendering research.

We’ve already featured one open-source renderer in this week’s round-up of technologies to watch. But whereas appleseed is being developed with production in mind, Mitsuba is a rather different beast.

An unapologetically research-based project in the style of the Academy Award-winning PBRT, Mitsuba places an emphasis on experimental techniques, and is developed by one of today’s leading computer scientists.

What is it?
A modular, physically based rendering system, using both biased and unbiased approaches.

Why is it notable?
Developer Wenzel Jakob is one of the rising stars of computer graphics research. Two of his papers – including Discrete Stochastic Microfacet Models (above) – made the official Siggraph highlights reel this year.

Accordingly, Mitsuba places an emphasis on experimental techniques, such as volumetric modelling approaches. It’s one for people who like to experiment with technologies before they find their way into mainstream renderers.

Similar to?
PBRT, the source code for which accompanies the groundbreaking book Physically Based Rendering. The authors won a Sci-Tech Academy Award this year; Mitsuba’s Wenzel Jakob is collaborating on the third edition.

Selling points?
Free to experiment with. Extremely modular: there are over 100 different plugins, so you can pick and choose what you try. Showcases bleeding-edge technologies. A good training ground for programmers and TDs.

Key technical features?
Find a partial feature list here and a reference manual here.

Runs on?
Windows, Linux, Mac OS X.

It’s mainly for people who want to play with the source code, but there are integration plugins for Blender (fairly fully featured) and Rhino (“very experimental”).


See it in action at:
You can see a few videos on Wenzel Jakob’s Vimeo channel. His other research can be found here.

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

Normal news coverage resumes on Monday 30 June.