Thursday, June 29th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Chaos releases Vantage 2.0

Chaos has released Vantage 2.0, a major update to its real-time ray tracing renderer.

New features in the release include a Scene States system, new scattering tool Chaos Scatter, support for volumetric fog, the option to render AOVs, and support for AMD as well as Nvidia GPUs.

The update also adds new animation capabilities, including the option to render animated materials and lights, and to render deforming meshes like animated characters.

Chaos pitches the changes as making Vantage, which was previously mainly used to explore large V-Ray architectural scenes, “as powerful for VFX as it is for architectural visualization”.

A hardware-accelerated ray tracer for exploring large production scenes in real time
First released in 2020, Vantage is a hardware-accelerated ray tracing renderer intended for exploring large production scenes in near-real time.

Chaos’s pitch for using Vantage over other real-time rendering solutions – particularly Unreal Engine, which is free for this kind of work – is ease of use.

Rather than having to convert V-Ray scenes created for offline renders for use in a game engine – still a time-consuming process, despite tools like Datasmith – Vantage can render the original .vrscene files.

It doesn’t support every feature of V-Ray – you can find a list of supported features for each V-Ray host application in the online documentation – but it’s intended to be a close visual match.

As well as navigating the 3D environment, using game-like controls with automatic collision detection, users can perform edits to the scene inside Vantage.

Now pitched at VFX as well as visualisation work
Although Vantage 2.0 adds new features across the board, some of the most significant are its new animation capabilities.

Whereas the software was originally geared mainly towards rendering camera animations, it can now render all of the animated materials, texture and lights in .vrscene files.

Equally importantly, it can render deforming meshes, like animated characters.

Chaos pitches the change as making Vantage 2.0 “as powerful for VFX as it is for architectural visualization”, with suggested use cases including previs, look dev and animation playblasts.

New Scene States system for managing variant looks for a scene
Other major new features include a Scene States system for creating and rendering variations of a scene, including variant object placement, materials and lighting, for look exploration or client reviews.

The software also now supports nested scenes – that is, .vrscenes referenced within other .vrscenes – enabling “more scene assembly scenarios between 3D creation tools”.

New scattering tools, volumetric fog, and updates to materials, lights and cameras
Other new features include Chaos Scatter, the object instancing and scattering tool recently introduced into V-Ray itself, and support for volumetric fog.

Vantage also now supports V-Ray’s override material, .vrmat materials, and materials with multiple UV channels: for example, those with stacked decals.

In addition, it is now possible to create lights directly inside Vantage – Point, Spot, Directional, Rectangle, Disc, Sphere and IES lights are supported – and to render Mesh lights in .vrscenes.

The update also adds support for orthographic cameras, and “better and more structured” camera grouping.

Support for render elements, and improvements to render quality
Rendering changes include the option to render AOVs, with available Render Elements including lighting components, Z-depth, velocity, and object and material masks.

For render denoising, Vantage now integrates Intel’s Open Image Denoise (OIDN), while the existing Nvidia denoiser now supports render upscaling.

Workflow improvements include a quality slider for balancing render quality against interactive performance; and the option to render specific frames or frame intervals.

Now compatible with AMD GPUs and HDR monitors
Another key change is that Vantage now supports AMD GPUs: although the software has always used DXR rather than Nvidia’s OptiX API, the initial release only supported Nvidia GPUs.

Vantage can now run on “DXR-compatible” AMD graphics cards: that is, those with dedicated ray tracing cores, like the Radeon RX 6000 and 7000 and Radeon Pro W6000 and W7000 Series.

The software also now supports HDR monitors.

New subscription pricing
Vantage also now has definitive pricing, Chaos having made one-year licences of the software available for free throughout most of the Vantage 1.x release cycle.

Subscriptions were originally expected to cost $389/year when rolled out, but Chaos told us last year that it was planning to review that figure, and indeed, the price of Vantage 2.0 is significantly higher, with annual subscriptions priced at $658.80/year.

Price and system requirements
Chaos Vantage is available for Windows 10 only. It requires a DXR-compatible AMD or Nvidia GPU.

The software is rental-only, with subscriptions costing $108.90/month or $658.80/year. It is included free with V-Ray Premium and Enterprise subscriptions.

Read an overview of the new features in Chaos Vantage on the product website

Read a full list of new features in Chaos Vantage 2.0 in the online documentation