Monday, July 29th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Chaos Group releases V-Ray for Houdini

NoEmotion co-founder Peter Sanitra’s amazing ‘spaghetti and meatballs’ demo, created with the beta of V-Ray for Houdini, Chaos Group’s new edition of the renderer for SideFX’s procedural 3D software.

Originally posted on 10 August 2018. Scroll down for news of the commercial release.

Chaos Group has released Beta 1 of V-Ray for Houdini, the new edition of the renderer for SideFX’s VFX-industry-standard 3D animation and effects software.

The current beta supports most of Houdini’s key features, including hair, fur, volumes, and many simulation types, and includes the new scene intelligence and GPU rendering features from V-Ray Next.

A readymade look development pipeline across Maya and Nuke
Houdini already has a pretty powerful built-in renderer, Mantra, so Chaos Group’s marketing pitches V-Ray for Houdini as much in terms of streamlining a studio’s production pipeline as for final-frame rendering.

There are already editions of V-Ray for other common VFX production tools, including Maya, Katana and Nuke, meaning that assets should display consistently in each host package without reworking.

On its website, Chaos Group quotes Ingenuity Studios creative director Grant Miller as saying that, together with V-Ray for Maya and Nuke, the new release provides a “complete rendering solution that allows look dev on individual assets to be packaged and easily transferred between applications”.

The firm has used the beta of V-Ray for Houdini on a number of commercial projects, including its promo for Taylor Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do‘ and some big crowd scenes from The Walking Dead.

Includes the advances in scene intelligence and GPU rendering from V-Ray Next
V-Ray Next for Houdini incorporates many of the key structural changes made for V-Ray Next, the major overhaul of the renderer rolled out for 3ds Max earlier this year, and currently in beta for Maya.

That includes ‘scene intelligence’ features like the Adaptive Dome light, designed to simplify the process of setting up a scene for rendering; and the new new GPU rendering architecture.

Chaos Group describes V-Ray GPU as providing “high-performance GPU rendering [for] look development and final frame rendering”, although it is worth checking the FAQs on what is and isn’t supported.

Initial support for Houdini’s key toolsets
For an initial beta, V-Ray for Houdini also supports a fair number of its host software’s key features.

That includes most of its native geometry types, including polygons, NURBS curves, points, and some packed primitive types; plus instances, proxies, subdivision and displacement.

Houdini hair is also supported, as SOP geometry. The release also includes support for Chaos Group’s new physically based hair shader introduced in V-Ray Next.

Volume rendering, both of VDB and Houdini’s volume primitives, is supported, along with particles, rigid body dynamics, cloth, FLIP fluids, and crowd simulations.

For transferring data to other apps, there is “full support” for Alembic, Houdini’s native .bgeo geometry caches, and critically, Chaos Group’s .vrscene format, intended for sharing assets between editions of V-Ray.

Updated 27 December 2018: Beta 2 of V-Ray for Houdini is now available.

The update introduces more features from other V-Ray Next releases, including Nvidia’s AI-based OptiX render denoising technology – used here for interactive previews – and GPU bucket rendering.

Other new features include support for texture baking as well as conventional rendering; and the option to render individual lights or groups of lights as render elements.

Workflow changes include the option to use a single User Color node to control custom attributes for any kind of geometry; and imported V-Ray scene files are now recreated as a full hierarchy of material nodes.

Updated 29 July 2019: V-Ray for Houdini is now shipping. The software was released at Siggraph 2019.

As well as the features listed above, the release adds support for VRayFur as a Houdini SOP, the Rayserver instancer for scenes with “massive instancing” (over a million instances), and per-primitive displacement.

Chaos Group has also posted an overviews of the key toolsets in the online documentation.

In the initial commercial release, V-Ray for Houdini supports most of V-Ray’s native materials and textures, and all of its native lights and cameras, as well as the features discussed earlier in this story.

Of the features not supported, some are legacy tools, but notable exceptions include the stereoscopic camera rig, UVTile texture tags – UDIM tags are supported – and some of the texture baking options.

You can find a full list of supported features in the online documentation.

Pricing and availability
V-Ray for Houdini is available now for Houdini and Houdini Indie 16.5.473 and above running on Windows 7+, RHEL/CentOS 6.2+ or Fedora 16+ Linux and Mac OS X 10.10.2+.

Chaos Group’s online store doesn’t list perpetual licences for V-Ray for Houdini, which would make it the latest of the firm’s products to be available rental-only, following V-Ray for Cinema 4D and V-Ray for Unreal.

Subscriptions cost $80/month or $470/year.

Read an overview of V-Ray for Houdini on Chaos Group’s website

Read a full list of features in V-Ray for Houdini in the online documentation