We have just returned from DEVELOP3D Live, an up and coming conference held at the Warwick Arts Centre in the UK, exploring the future of product development technology, tools and strategies. Even though it’s only in its second year of existence, this year’s keynotes were given by leading industry figures such as Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, Solidworks VP of R&D Gian Bassi, Geomagic VP Ping Fu and many others.
One of the major highlights of the show was the official launch of the Neon 1.0 interactive 3D viewport plugin for Rhino v5. User reviews are in and a lot of people have already expressed their excitement about having a fully ray traced viewport as part of their workflow. Paul Sherstobitoff, professional 3D illustrator, said he has become completely hooked on using Neon in all of my work, while Robert McNeel saw unprecedented interest from customers during the open beta for the plug-in. Randal Newton from GraphicSpeak noticed how ‘by itself Neon adds slick full-time rendering to Rhino; the addition of a Caustic ray-tracing acceleration card supercharges the process.
Neon 1.0 ray tracing plugin released for Rhino v5
Rhinoceros 3D (also known as Rhino 3D) is a very popular 3D modeling tool that offers diversity and multidisciplinary functions, has a low learning-curve, is relatively low cost, and is able to import and export over 30 file formats. The Neon plugin has been optimized for our Caustic Series2 ray tracing accelerator PC boards and is currently available for free as for all Rhino v5 users. Right after downloading and installing the Neon plugin, users get a fully working viewport labelled ‘Raytraced with Neon’ that offers much more than either the standard rendered or shaded viewports. As you can see from the screen shots below, Neon provides a much better approximation of how the final rendered scene is going to look like compared to other default viewports in Rhino.
The standard shaded viewport (left) vs. the Neon viewport (right) in Rhino3D v5
Any changes, edits, or updates are immediately ray traced in multiple passes thanks to the OpenRL-based software engine that runs either on the CPU or the Caustic Series2 (R2500 and R2100) boards. The great advantage of getting an accelerator board is double-fold: you get a 4x-5x rendering boost and an improved power consumption (~60W for R2500, ~30W for R2100) which means your workstation will stay cool and silent. We have a few short videos for you that highlight some of the changes in materials and textures you can make and how they are rendered in real time:
Caustic Visualizer for Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max
At DEVELOP3D Live we’ve also shown various demos of what designers can accomplish using our Caustic Visualizer software package for Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max. The Caustic Visualizer plugin is similar to Neon; it is based on the PowerVR OpenRL API and Brazil SDK and brings real time, interactive ray tracing to viewports. Both Neon and Caustic Visualizer can help artists or designers accelerate and improve the design process, giving them the opportunity to change textures, lighting, materials in real time, without having to wait precious time for the scene to finish rendering. For example, clients, artists and game developers can sit down at a workstation, edit scenes on the fly and see the results come to life in a matter of seconds, something unheard of previously.
Looking to the future: ray traced, hybrid rendering
The OpenRL shading language (RLSL) is based on GLSL and supplies run-time compiled, programmable shaders for ray tracing. This ray tracing technology will allow Imagination to provide unique IP that combines our high-performance PowerVR GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) and RTUs (Ray Tracing Units) to deliver a hybrid rendering solution that has multiple applications for virtual reality applications or game engines. For example, photo-realistic elements within a very complex scene would be rendered with our PowerVR RTU while background elements can be handled by our OpenGL ES-compliant PowerVR graphics cores. If you’re keen to see Caustic’s ray tracing hardware and software solutions in action, we will be attending various Autodesk User Groups in the USA over the upcoming months as well as SIGGRAPH 2013 in July. In the meantime, make sure you follow us on Twitter (@CausticGraphics and @ImaginationTech) and like us Facebook for the latest news, videos and tutorials from Caustic.