Chaos Group releases V-Ray for Houdini in open beta

A still from the promo for Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do, rendered by Ingenuity Studios in V-Ray for Houdini. The new edition of Chaos Group’s production renderer is now available in open beta.

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”.

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 – although not NURBS surfaces – points, and some packed primitive types; plus instances, proxies, subdivision and displacement.

Houdini hair is also supported, although currently only as SOP geometry. The release also includes support for the new physically based hair shader introduced in V-Ray Next.

Volume rendering, both of VDB and Houdini’s volume primitives, is partially supported: it currently only works on Windows, and you have to load the files via a Volume Grid Cache SOP rather than rendering directly.

Houdini simulations currently supported include particles, rigid body dynamics, cloth, FLIP fluids, and crowds.

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.

So which V-Ray features aren’t yet included?
V-Ray for Houdini supports most of V-Ray’s native materials and textures, including skin and car paint, although not currently the GLSL or OSL materials.

It also includes almost all of V-Ray’s native light and camera types, bar the stereo camera. Depth of field and motion blur are also supported.

There are caveats to some of those statements, so for more details, and a list of V-Ray features not currently supported, check out this feature breakdown from the online documentation.

Pricing and availability
V-Ray for Houdini Beta 1 is available now for Houdini and Houdini Indie 16.5.473 running on Windows 7+, RHEL/CentOS 6.2+ or Fedora 16+ Linux and Mac OS X 10.10.2+.

Chaos Group hasn’t yet announced a date or pricing for the commercial release.

Read an overview of V-Ray for Houdini on Chaos Group’s website
(Includes a link to register for the beta)

Read a full list of features in V-Ray for Houdini Beta 1 in the online documentation

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