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Sneak peek: 3Delight integration in Katana 3.0

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Foundry has posted a fascinating video of 3Delight CTO Aghiles Kheffache discussing 3Delight for Katana, the plugin version of the production renderer for Foundry’s lighting and look development app.

In it, Kheffache discusses 3Delight’s design philosophy, and his company’s quest to eliminate “bullshit parameters” from rendering in pursuit of a more artist-friendly workflow.

The plugin itself will be available free with the upcoming Katana 3.0, on show at NAB 2018 this week.

The quest to eliminate ‘bullshit parameters’ in rendering
In the video, Kheffache runs through the history of rendering tools, from the initial “RenderMan API and REYES era” to the current dominance of path tracing in production work.

Noting that the design of software tends to reflect conditions in the industry at the time that major structural decisions were made, not that of the industry today, he comments that we are still “living in the world as defined by Mental Ray, with all the weird parameters coming back”.

Kheffache then sets out 3Delight’s drive to remove such “bullshit parameters” from 3Delight – among others, he singles out clamping, culling thresholds, BRDF samples and sampling modes for extermination.

Instead, he pitches a vision of rendering driven by fewer, more artistically intuitive settings: “All those things that are part of your craft now will disappear … only artistic parameters will be shown to you.”

Innovations in 3Delight for Katana: single shading ‘uber-parameter’, OpenVDB volumes as lights
What that means in practice can be glimpsed in the second half of the video, where Kheffache runs through some of the innovative features of 3Delight for Katana.

One is described as “one shading parameter to rule them all: no more BRDF, environment or light samples”.

According to Kheffache, the demo scene used in the seminar, which shows the 3Delight and Foundry logos as neon signs on a chain link fence, required only one shading sample parameter.

He also discusses “perception-based parameterisation”, in which choices made within the UI carry over into renders: a demo shows arbitrary colours being assigned to scattering and absorption for a smoke plume.

And finally – mentioned on a slide, but not shown in action – 3Delight for Katana users can use OpenVDB volumes as light sources. Volumes can be light linked as normal, and outputted in their own channels.

Pricing and availability
3Delight for Katana is already available to download from 3Delight’s website for Katana 2.x running on Windows and Linux. An eight-core licence is free; an unlimited multi-core licence costs $1,200.

Updated 13 April: Foundry tells us that this is no longer the case. The website has been updated accordingly.

The plugin will be bundled with Katana 3.0 – according to the video, it will be installed by default – and will be free for interactive rendering, although users will still have to pay for production render licences.

Katana 3.0 is currently in beta. 3Delight for Katana render nodes will be available from Foundry, and production render node pricing will be available on launch. Foundry hasn’t confirmed a release date.

Read more about 3Delight for Katana on the product website

Read more about Katana on Foundry’s website

Editor’s note: The original version of this story referred to Aghiles Kheffache as CTO of DNA Research. We’re told that the correct job title is now CTO of 3Delight, so we’ve updated the text accordingly.

DNA Research remains the name of the holding company, and it remains a separate company to Foundry.

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