Thursday, April 7th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Otoy reveals its roadmap to OctaneRender 4.0


An image rendered in OctaneRender 3.0, the next update to the GPU-based renderer. Otoy has also announced its product roadmap for the 3.x and 4.0 releases, plus new compositing app OctaneImager.

Updated 20 March 2018: For a more current product roadmap, see our new stories on OctaneRender 4.0 and the OctaneRender 2018 and 2019 release cycles.

Otoy has unveiled its product roadmap for the next two years, spanning the entire 3.x series of releases for OctaneRender, its GPU-based production renderer, and culminating in a 4.0 release some time in 2017.

Along the way, the company plans to roll out CPU support, an entire new plugin ecosystem, new cloud-based rendering and subscription-based services – and even an entire new compositing package, OctaneImager.

The announcements were made at Nvidia’s GTC 2016 conference.

OctaneRender 3.0: shipping on 15 May
First, and most straightforwardly, Otoy announced that the “highly anticipated” OctaneRender 3.0 – that is, it was announced at GTC last year, and still hasn’t shipped – will be released on 15 May.

New features include support for volumetrics, including the OpenVDB file format; Open Shader Language; and deep pixel rendering. You can read a fuller list in our original story on OctaneRender 3.

OctaneRender Cloud: new cloud-based render service, also due 15 May
Released the same day, and “seamlessly integrated” into the software, is OctaneRender Cloud (ORC), a new on-demand cloud-rendering service that will enable user to harness from 20 to 2,000 GPUs.

ORC will enable users to pause and resume rendering of Octane film buffers (OXR files), making it possible for cloud-based renders to be resumed and completed locally.

The service will include high-speed storage, file versioning, live delta synching to OctaneRender and its plugins, HTML5 cloud desktop access, and Dropbox and Google Drive integration.

Pricing starts at $9.99/month for 1,200 GPU minutes of render time.

OctaneRender 3.1: due later in 2016
Further off in 2016, OctaneRender 3.1 will include a number of interesting new technologies.

We’ve already reported on Otoy’s CUDA cross-compiler, which the company unveiled last month – to which Otoy is now also adding fallback support for CPU rendering.

Together, the new technologies will enable OctaneRender to run on non-CUDA GPUs – including, for the first time AMD and Intel chips – or even on headless machines with no GPU at all.

New shader compiler and native plugin ecosystem
The update will also mark the debut of two technologies that play an important role in Otoy’s long-term strategy: Octane Shader Compiler and its new ORBX native plugin ecosystem.

Octane Shader Compiler is a new API intended to enable OctaneRender to use shaders written in any language, but using Open Shading Language (OSL) as a default.

Otoy says that it is also working with Nvidia on a frontend for MDL, its Material Definition Language, introduced in recent releases of mental ray and Iray; and is “exploring” the more game-friendly GLSL.

Plugin integration with Substance Designer and Altus – and maybe even fluid dynamics
Support for the new shader languages is enabled by Otoy’s new plugin architecture, based on its ORBX JavaScript library and media codec.

According to Otoy, one benefit of the new architecture is that the new UDIM and Ptex texture formats – currently patchily implemented across its host applications – will be more widely supported.

The firm is also collaborating on a plugin for Subtance Designer, Allegorithmic’s games texturing tool.

In addition, Otoy showed a work-in-progress ORBX-native implementation of Altus, innoBright’s promising standalone tool for denoising Monte Carlo raytraced renders.

Other ideas being explored include “physics plugins for rigid, soft and fluid dynamics”.

Support for bone animation and skinned meshes
Other new features in OctaneRender 3.1 will include native support for bone animations and skinned meshes.

Rather than using Autodesk’s FBX file format, Otoy says that it is exploring glTF, a new open format for runtime asset delivery, designed to bridge the gap between DCC tools and OpenGL/WebGL applications.

According to Otoy, glTF is “more compact” than FBX, and can be supported in its own ORBX Media Player.

Smaller changes in OctaneRender 3.1 include a new codebase for handling displacement and rounded edges on models; adaptive sampling; and improved performance when loading and compiling meshes.

Otoy expects to release an alpha for OctaneRender 3.1 this summer.

OctaneEngine: a new online, rental-based version of the Octane technology
Further off still is OctaneEngine, a new online, rental-based version of Octane’s core technology.

Described by Otoy as a “major expansion of the Octane ecosystem”, it refactors the Octane API as an ORBX module, running as a WebSocket server.

As well as providing an alternative to traditional perpetual licences, OctaneEngine will enable users to run in ‘zero GPU’ mode, using other GPUs on a local network to complete rendering tasks.

According to Otoy, this feature could be of particular benefit to OS X users, given the “aging” D700 GPUs in the current Mac Pro and the lack of workstation-class GPU options in the MacBook Pro.

Otoy will also be “exposing a web API around OctaneEngine enabling new types of web services and applications to be created using standards such as WebGL”.

As well as enabling Otoy to create a “web desktop” app – effectively, OctaneRender running inside a browser – Otoy says that the API could enable services like to use Octane for live viewports or offline renders.

Subscriptions will cost $9.99/month for two GPUs, or $19.99/month for unlimited GPUs, while plugins linking OctaneEngine to host DCC apps will cost $9.99/month, with bundle deals for multiple plugins.

At least initially, the service will be provided in tandem with traditional perpetual licences of OctaneRender.

OctaneImager: a complete new compositing application
Another interesting development is OctaneImager: an entire new post-processing and compositing application.

The software is intended to be used either in conjunction with OctaneRender or as a standalone product, and will have its own independent SDK and plugin ecosystem.

OctaneImager will support deep pixel/deep motion effects; and will support filters and non-photorealistic rendering effects via Octane Shader Compiler – you can see a demo of toon shading in the video above.

It will also expose “elements of OctaneRender such as light field rendering and high-speed decoding … enabling broad support for VR, foveated rendering, and content that will support new kinds of displays”.

Beyond that, there isn’t a lot of info: Otoy hasn’t announced a price or release date for OctaneImager yet.

OctaneRender 4.0: due in 2017 with Brigade integration
Finally, in OctaneRender 4.0, Otoy will integrate the real-time path tracing technology used in Brigade, the firm’s work-in-progress rendering engine for videogames, into Octane itself.

According to Otoy, OctaneRender 4.0 will integrate all of Brigade’s existing features, promising “OctaneRender’s cinematic final-frame quality [with] Brigade’s speed”.

The functionality will be supported in all of Otoy’s plugins, including the final releases of the upcoming MotionBuilder, Unity and Unreal Engine plugins.

Using the OctaneEngine API, content creators will also be able to produce “completely interactive, photorealistic third-party game engines”.

Otoy says that it is planning backends for mobile, console and VR platforms, specifically citing iOS, Android/Vulkan and PlayStation VR as examples.

OctaneRender 4.0 is due “in 2017”, but as you might expect, there aren’t any other details yet.

Read Otoy’s press release summarising its product roadmap
(Includes the slide deck from the firm’s GTC presentation and more images)