New and Exciting Features of V-Ray 3.2
V-Ray 3.2 is the latest version available on the market – Paul Hatton gives us a rundown of the new features and improvements to Chaos Group's popular renderer...
Over the summer Chaos Group released V-Ray 3.2. It represents another major improvement to many existing features as well as the introduction of some new ones. It is free to registered users and will be the version you receive should you purchase it now.
Chaos Group continues to vigorously improve its rendering engine offering, seemingly never satisfied with the ordinary, and always desiring to be the best. It is for these reasons that I love V-Ray and have enjoyed using it for the last 6 years. In this article we're going to explore some of the features that are making a name for themselves in this update.
Version 3.2 is now completely compatible with 3ds Max 2016, which is a great relief. It seemed to take longer than expected but at least we can now fully embrace both Autodesk's latest offering and V-Ray's. Aside from that, V-Ray has introduced new VR cameras, improved distributed rendering and updated light cache algorithms. In addition, there are also a stack of bug fixes which is always welcome!
To kick off this isn't a mind-blowing new feature that will rock the 3D Vis world but it sure makes artists' lives a whole lot easier! V-Ray has introduced the ability to add and remove nodes while rendering is taking place. Simply have distributed rendering enabled prior to rendering and then in the rendering dialogue box that appears you'll notice a rollout which gives you access to the rendering nodes. No more stopping renders just to make use of more nodes.
New preview types of proxy objects
It is now possible to show the entirety of the original mesh in the viewport. Proxy objects were previously very limited in that you were only able to view the mesh up to the number of triangles specified in the preview. This was horrible for being specific when placing objects, working out clash detection and generally working with them. This small addition is very welcome.
Load render settings from .vrimg
Utilising V-Ray Frame Buffer's history you can save multiple renders into memory and then load the render settings utilised for each specific render. This is useful if you render a few different images with different settings and want to compare them. Then once you've chosen you're preferred option, rather than having to go back and remember what settings you used, simply right-click on the thumbnail in the history panel and select ‘Load V-Ray Settings'.
Full support for Physical Camera
There was support prior to V-Ray 3.2 but this gives us complete support along with some bug fixes. To be honest I've found the transition over to this camera a little painful but seem to have found a workflow that works. Make sure you assign an exposure control and then control your camera either with the manual aperture settings or an exposure value. If you can't get it to work as you would expect then you can create the old type of V-Ray camera using this Max Script V-RayCreateV-RayPhysicalCamera()
Faster V-Ray Fur Rendering
Everyone knows that hair and fur can be slow to render and oftentimes as artists we may shy away from using it to manage the render times, especially if producing a video. This improvement should force artists to reconsider. I've not carried out extensive testing but it seems to be at least twice as fast which is a major improvement. V-Ray 3 had some major speed improvements and I'm glad these have been extended to the fur. V-Ray is not just about features but also about speed, and I like that.
New VR Cameras
It is now possible to create stereoscopic panoramic images with a very simple setup. Utilising the V-RayStereoscopic helper and then adjusting the ‘Camera' ‘Type' in the V-Ray render setup rollout to either spherical or cube 6x1 will give you a panoramic output. This can be taken into any panoramic viewer or into any VR environment such as the Oculus Rift. The settings for the effect of the stereoscopy can be made by adjusting the parameters of the ‘V-RayStereoscopic' helper.
Improved light cache
This is another improvement rather than a new feature. It pertains to the light cache algorithm for calculating global illumination. If an artist isn't using brute force then irradiance map and light cache for primary and secondary engines respectively is a favoured setup. V-Ray claim in their documentation to have removed light leaks in version 3.2. I'm not entirely sure what they're referring to here unless they actually mean the leak prevention setting. In truth every iteration of V-Ray gets better at more accurately calculating the GI and therefore leading to the ability to fine tune the light cache and eliminate these leaks.
V-Ray RT GPU Improvements
The real time version of V-Ray continues to get better and better as its creators try to close the gap between the complete CPU renderer and the feature lacking GPU RT version. New features supported include texture baking, output curves and most excitingly for me, displacement. If you haven't got into the realm of real time rendering then let me strongly suggest you do. Note that when you render, the V-Ray log will detail all the unsupported features that you're using so you can keep a track of that fairly easily.
All in all this really is a fantastic update to an already impressive piece of software. There is such a diverse range of renderers out on the market at the moment and I would highly recommend looking into them. V-Ray may still be the most popular but the others have so much to add. It's really a case of knowing the unique offering that each provides and picking the right tool for the job. I appreciate that purchasing several renderers might be unachievable so do your research carefully!
Top tip 1: Using V-Ray RT on a project
One word of advice would be to try and decide at the start of the project whether you're going to be utilising V-Ray RT. If you are then you can purpose build your scene to only use supported features. You'll be surprised at what can be achieved with the supported items.
Top tip 2: Lens Analysis Utility
To create that photographic lens look it is possible to take data from a real lens and input it into the V-Ray lens analysis utility. This analyses photos taken using the lens and creates a profile which can then be loaded into your virtual camera. V-Ray has extended support for the 3ds Max Physical Camera.