V-Ray Next: Marketing ploy or real software breakthrough?

Chaos Group held its 2nd “V-Ray Architecture Day” on May, 29th in Paris. On this occasion, they introduced the new release of their software: V-ray Next. Yana Andreeva, a 3D artist, was in charge of the presentation. The day program was composed of a variety of demos and customers’ testimonials. This is not always easy to stay at the cutting-edge of technology when you are a leader on the market. For this reason, is V-Ray Next a simple marketing ploy or a real software breakthrough?

Firstly, it seems that V-Ray has gained intelligence thanks to machine learning. Two functionalities are put forward in order to show V-Ray new abilities: “automatic exposure/white balance” and “adaptive dome light”.

The first automation is especially useful for animations when, for instance, the camera goes from the outside to the inside. V-Ray automatically adapt the camera sensibility in order to have a correctly exposed image. With still images however, in my opinion, it seems less helpful.

Adaptive dome light: this is the end of skyportals
The pros of the “adaptive dome light” are more remarkable. Thanks to this mode, we do not have to put the skylight portals in front of the windows. The “adaptive dome light” mode will automatically detect the openings so that the calculations are concentrated onto these zones. Chaos claims time-saving from 10% up to 700% while rendering. I reckon that this option will be even more time-saving durint the scene setup. According to me, this is the biggest innovation of this version.

Adaptative dome light

Major breakthrough for GPU rendering: ready for production
One of the most important points: renderings made with V-Ray GPU can use both CPU and GPU. They use the same Quasi Monte Carlo (QMC) sampling so the output images from both calculation methods are identical. Furthermore, GPU rendering supports the V-ray Next new features (such as the adaptive dome light) but also the volumetrics (generated by Phoenix or OpenVDB’s), and plugins such as Forest Pack.

Denoiser : 2 choices of denoisers
Most of the rendering engines have a denoising functionnality. V-Ray already had its own denoiser since the third version and it now has OptiX denoiser from NVIDIA fully integrated. Yana advise to use the home denoiser for production rendering and the one from NVIDIA for the scene setup. I’m not a huge fan of denoisers but I have to admit that the combination of V-Ray GPU + OptiX is incredible! At the end of the very first pass, after denoising, we already have the idea of the scene atmosphere.

New « hair » shader
Based on a physiological approach and on the melanin amount contained in hair, this new shader impressed me for the realistic effect it produces!

Hair shader

V-Ray for Unreal
In addition, we also had a glance to the new V-Ray plugin for Unreal. By the way, V-Ray Next opens the way towards Unreal thanks to “metalness” in its material settings.
Metalness is typical of PBR (Physically-based rendering) materials used in real-time rendering engines but also in Allegorithmic products. V-Ray plugin for Unreal allows to retrieve a V-Ray scene exported from 3ds Max with converted materials which are correctly plated in Unreal. This is very helpful in order to produce both photorealistic images and real-time content.

As a conclusion, V-Ray Next won’t turn upside down the rendering area but it is still a major version of V-Ray.  The adaptive dome light, the combination of GPU/OptiX and the opening toward Unreal, are to me, the most interesting aspects of this version.

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Christophe Bicchierai