Friday, December 28th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Realsoft ships Realsoft 3D 8

Realsoft has released Realsoft 3D 8, the latest version of its 3D modelling and animation package, and the first major update to the software in close to a decade.

The update adds a new photon mapping toolset, multicore support for post effects, and makes the software compatible with Windows 10 and with Hi-DPI displays.

(Almost) the oldest continuously developed commercial 3D application
Although it may not be a familiar name to some readers, Realsoft is one of the oldest* 3D applications.

Created by developers Juha and Vesa Meskanen, the software – then named Real 3D – was first released commercially in 1989: just predating 3D Studio, Cinema 4D and the standalone version of LightWave.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Realsoft 3D provided freelance artists with a more accessible alternative to high-end tools, this being a time when Maya or Houdini could set you back well over $10,000.

As well simply being affordable, it was innovative: the product website claims it was the first desktop 3D app to support ray tracing with quadrics and spline surfaces, B-spline modeling and “advanced” physics.

As the 2000s wore on, reductions in the cost of high-end tools and – at the opposite end of the price spectrum – the increasing power of Blender eroded the market for mid-priced 3D applications.

With the last major release in 2009, and the last announcement on the Realsoft website dating back to 2011, Realsoft 3D seemed to have gone the way of other mid-price tools like trueSpace or Carrara**.

But then this month’s update showed that there might be life in the old app yet.

Better support for modern CPUs and displays, plus new rendering features
In truth, many of the changes in Realsoft 3D 8 aren’t actually new features, but updates designed to make existing features work better on modern hardware.

The UI has been given a new set of SVG icons and now scales better to Hi-DPI displays, although it retains its old light grey colour theme; and post effects are now distributed to compute faster on multicore CPUs.

The software also now runs under Windows 10.

In addition, there are some features that bring Realsoft 3D back more in line with contemporary renderers, like a new photon mapping system for faster global illumination, and quality settings for progressive renders.

Physics toolsets Chrono and Dynatomic and CAD importer Revolution4D, previously separate commercial plugins, are now bundled with the core application.

Other that that, it’s largely bugfixes and workflow improvements, plus a few new modelling tools.

However, the changelog does suggest that there may be more to come: for the first time, Realsoft 3D now features an automatic software updater.

Pricing and system requirements
Realsoft 3D 8 is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and – another blast from 3D’s past – Solaris.

The price is down still further with the current version: the Windows edition now costs €200 (around $230), while the other editions now cost €50 or €100.

Read more about Realsoft 3D 8 on Realsoft’s website
(Note: at time of posting, not all parts of the site have been updated to reflect the new release)

*If you discount Houdini precursor PRISMS, I think only the Strata 3D product line is older.
**Still commercially available, but not updated since 2013.