Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Digimania releases RenderDigimania 1.06

Originally posted on 12 February, at the time of version 1.04. Scroll down for news of RenderDigimania 1.06.

Digimania has rolled out its latest update to RenderDigimania, its GPU-accelerated production renderer aimed at studios working on high-volume animated series.

So what is RenderDigimania?
Launched last year, RenderDigimania is intended to provide a real-time rendering workflow for fast-turnaround jobs like kids’ TV shows, where speed is more critical than visual complexity.

The software has been used in production by UK studio Red Kite Animation on the pilot for its upcoming 52-part pre-school series Bradley & Bee, due to air this year.

According to a case study on the RenderDigimania site, the animation was rendered on “a couple of mid-level Dell laptops” at an average of 0.21 seconds per frame.

On a section of the same pilot rendered in mental ray, Red Kite averaged 210 seconds per frame: almost exactly 1,000 times slower.

Midway between a game engine and a conventional renderer
Digimania describes RenderDigimania as using a “classic game engine pipeline”, which should give you some idea of the kind of features to expect in the software.

However, it includes a number of features standard in traditional production renderers, including support for network rendering, and the option to export beauty, diffuse, specular, shadow and Z-depth passes.

Meshes, textures, materials, settings and animation are handled by a central content-management system. Data can be ingested as FBX or Alembic files, and output options include OpenEXR for use in a linear workflow.

The software also includes a node-based material system and keyframe animation tools for making rapid adjustments to objects and cameras.

New features in version 1.04 include support for soft shadows, the option to output renders as QuickTimes for shot reviews, improved asset grouping, and the ability to maintain hierarchy in Alembic files.

Pricing and availability
RenderDigimania is available now for 64-bit Windows 7 and above. It’s DirectX-based, so you can use any GPU with more than 1GB of graphics memory: the product website describes mid-level games cards as suitable.

Digimania tells us that it tailors its solutions to customer pipelines, so pricing is flexible, and on enquiry.

Updated 31 March: Digimania has changed its pricing policy. You can now buy a perpetual licence of RenderDigimania from its website for £599 ($799).

That seems to be quite a significant price cut: when we posted the original story, reseller Playbox Technology was listing the software at €2,800 (around $3,175) for a 12-month subscription.

Studios can buy up to five licences in this way; for larger orders, you’ll need to contact the firm directly.

Updated 3 June: Digimania has released RenderDigimania 1.06, adding a “native Maya material export system”: that is, the option to export materials that match RDm’s directly from Maya.

The update also adds the option to view a scene directly through a spot light.

Since our original story, the developer has also added direct support for real-time reflections, screen-space ambient occlusion, contact shadows; and bloom, film grain and depth of field as post-processing effects.

Read more about RenderDigimania on Digimania’s product website

Full disclosure: in my other life as a freelance technical writer, I wrote a story on affordable motion-capture solutions for the RenderDigimania blog. Other than that, I have no connection with the software.