Thursday, July 9th, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Chaos Group releases Project Lavina Beta 0.4

Chaos Group has released Project Lavina, its new tool for exploring large V-Ray scenes, as an open beta.

The software makes use of the RT cores in current-generation Nvidia RTX graphics cards to generate an interactive real-time, fully ray traced view of the environment.

A new tool for scouting very large architectural scenes or VFX sets in real time
First shown as a tech preview at Siggraph 2018, and launched in closed beta last year, Project Lavina is described as a tool for “real-time exploring and manipulating of V-Ray scenes”.

Most of the early tests we’ve seen – and the majority of Chaos Group’s demo material – have been from artists using Lavina to explore architectural scenes, particularly large assets like massing models.

However, there are obvious potential use cases outside architectural visualisation: for example, to scout virtual sets for movie or broadcast visual effects.

Load .vrscene files and edit objects, cameras or environment lighting for rendering
In its initial state, Project Lavina is intended primarily as an environment for iterating on the look of a V-Ray scene, or for exploring it in over-the-shoulder reviews.

Users can load very large .vrscene files in Lavina very quickly – Chaos Group tells us that scenes that take minutes to open in V-Ray itself load in seconds – and explore them in real time.

It is possible to merge in new assets and position or scale them interactively, and to load LUTs or HDRI maps to change the lighting of the scene, although it isn’t currently possible to edit materials or place lights.

As well as generating stills or walkthroughs – either in real time, or as higher-quality offline renders – in Lavina itself, artists can use it as an environment in which to set up camera positions for V-Ray renders.

Designed specifically for Nvidia’s RTX hardware
Unlike V-Ray GPU, V-Ray’s own built-in GPU renderer, Project Lavina has been designed from the outset for real-time ray tracing – and for Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards.

The application makes use of the RT hardware cores in GeForce RTX, Titan RTX and Quadro RTX GPUs to accelerate ray tracing operations.

Whereas V-Ray GPU, like most conventional DCC tools, uses Nvidia’s OptiX API for RTX acceleration, Lavina takes the same route as game engines like Unreal Engine, using Microsoft’s DXR (DirectX Raytracing).

One early tester we spoke to said that he had been “blown away” by Lavina’s interactive performance with very large assets: a view echoed in early social media posts from people trying the latest beta.

Updated 10 July 2020: Chaos Group has released Project Lavina Beta 0.4. The update adds support for V-Ray’s Physical Camera and the VRayBRDF Metal material.

The previous update, Beta 0.3, added an experimental new animation editor, also shown in the video above.

It enables users to scout camera positions within a scene in Project Lavina, set up transitions between them, and scrub the timeline to preview the camera move.

The cameras and camera animation can then be imported into 3ds Max for rendering at full quality.

Other new features in Beta 0.3 include support for light grouping, the V-Ray Sun and Sky models, a noise threshold setting for denoising, and the Portal Light setting.

Pricing and system requirements
Project Lavina is currently available as a ‘semi public’ beta: to use it, you need a V-Ray Next Render License, available with editions of V-Ray including 3ds Max, Maya, Modo, Rhino and SketchUp.

It’s a Windows-only standalone application, and requires a Nvidia RTX GPU and Nvidia driver 419 or later. Chaos Group hasn’t announced a final release date or pricing for the software.

Read a full list of new features in Project Lavina in Chaos Group’s online documentation

Download Project Lavina from Chaos Group’s website
(Requires a Chaos Group user account)