New F10 in MAX LIVE v2.5.0

As mentioned in previous posts, now that RCSDK v2.5.0 is fully stable and Arion stand-alone has been released, we’re working on MAX (and RHINO) LIVE.

Here’s a little preview of the changes that the MAX LIVE UI has undergone. We have compacted all the tabs in the F10 dialog into roll-ups, and now all the new v2.5.0 features are in there:


New F10 dialog in MAX LIVE v2.5.0

Thanks for watching!

Arion stand-alone v2.5.0 is airborne


Arion stand-alone v2.5.0 is airborne

Dear Arion users,

We have just released Arion stand-alone v2.5.0. You can download the setup and the corresponding license file from your Account ID in the customer area.

The Arion stand-alone demo and ArionBench have been upgraded to v2.5.0 as well.

We are very confident that v2.5.0 is a sound step towards a much stronger product, and hope that you will make the most of it. We have published a newsletter with a summary of the new features, that you will receive in your mailbox in the upcoming hours:

http://www.randomcontrol.com/newsletters

You can find a more or less detailed changelog here:

http://support.randomcontrol.com/display/AKB/Product+changelog

We will continue the development of MAX and RHINO LIVE v2.5.0 now, and will release them as soon as they are ready (it shouldn’t take too long).

Thanks for watching!

Dressings


Text-based (.xml) editing of scene files now in Arion v2.5.0 with dressings

Arion v2.5.0 introduces a new feature to simplify the process of rendering the same scene several times with different materials or settings.

This feature, called dressing will save an .xml file to the disk with all the non-defaulted parameters in the scene, so you can edit them and save multiple versions of the .xml that apply to the same source .rcs scene.

These XML dressing files can be handy to:

– Do batched renderings with RenderWarrior.
– Save hard drive space if you’re dealing with huge RCS files.
– Create multiple variations from a text editor, without needing to open-edit-save.

Dressing files can be edited in any text editor such as Notepad or more advanced text editors like Notepad++ (which was used for this document’s snapshots). By editing manually the right parameters in the .xml file, it is possible to change the scene look entirely.


Changing the RandomControl Teapot color using a .xml dressing file.

Dressing files can be loaded directly into Arion stand-alone or RenderWarrior just like any other regular RCS/FRY/OBJ scene file.

In a way, the pair formed by the modded .xml and original .rcs is very similar to the old .fry and .bin pair in the fryrender era, where it was possible to modify scene properties by editing a text .fry file.

You can read a complete ‘How To’ Dressing page in The Arion Knowledge Base here.

HDR Light Studio integration in Arion

Arion v2.5.0 features a re-designed environment editor that includes support for Lightmap’s flagship real-time light editing software; HDR Light Studio.

HDR Light Studio lets you easily create and edit HDRI environment maps in real-time. As you develop your custom HDRI map you see its lighting effect in real-time on your 3D scene.

This video shows the workflow of the HDR Light Studio integration inside Arion, and some various possible uses.

For more information about HDR Light Studio © integration in Arion v2.5.0 and a quick start tutorial, please visit The Arion Knowledge Base here:

http://support.randomcontrol.com/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=918240

New ArionBench v2.5.0

As you probably know, we’re finishing the Arion v2.5.0 core. Because of this, we have compiled and packed a new version of ArionBench, which is available for download on our website.

The time scale in the new ArionBench has been adjusted so its results match those of previous versions, despite the core is a bit faster now.

Besides that, the bench offers a new feature. Now it is possible to specify a custom number of passes to render for. Some of our customers are evaluating machines so powerful that the bench takes too little to render, producing benchmark measurements that are not stable enough. If that is your case, you can invoke AB this way:

arionbench_64 -hardware -passes:10000

This will force the bench to render for 10000 passes (the default is about 1500). If you own a ‘normal’ machine, you can simply use one of the .bat files included in the .zip package, like before. The bench has been designed to take about one or two minutes to complete in a more or less powerful machine. But, as I explained, in some cases that may not be enough (in configurations with 8 TITANs, for example).


New ArionBench v2.5.0

NOTE I:

We have been running ArionBench in some very fat machines lately and we have found out that in some cases (when there are many GPUs) it seems that the benchmark value gets a little better if a higher number of passes is used. In some cases the difference between using the default benchmark (1500 passes) or a much higher number of passes (e.g., 10000) can be significant (+30%). The reason for this can be summarized in the following sentence: “it may take a little while for all the GPUs to be fully loaded and working at full capacity”.

For this reason, it is recommended that if you want to benchmark your machine as accurately as possible, you must set a number of passes that is long enough. This is specially important in very powerful machines with many GPUs (where the benchmark takes less than one minute to compute), and not so important in ‘normal’ machines where the benchmark takes 2-3 minutes or more to complete.

Note that (at least for now) we have decided to fixate the number of passes to a number that will never render for an oddly long amount of time, despite this fixed number may be too short in some configurations.

NOTE II:

The top entries in the ArionBench page are now a bit outdated, since the v2.5 benchmark (with a larger number of passes) will produce an even higher output. If you submitted one of those entries yourself using v2.4.x or older, please feel free to enter a new, updated, v2.5 entry.

Thanks for watching!

UPDATE: We added a page about ArionBench in the Knowledge Base:

http://support.randomcontrol.com/display/CT/ArionBench

The Arion Knowledge Base

Dear Arion users,

Earlier this year we started a Knowledge Base (KB) that would take the place of our old User Manual, tutorials and documentation, which over the years have taken the form of .pdf documents, and even a Wiki page.

This summer we finally decided to adopt a well-established solution called Confluence, which allows us to easily add new entries collaboratively. We ported everything from the old KB to the new one, and lately we have been working hard in order to get it ready by the release of v2.5.0.

You can access the new KB following this link:

http://support.randomcontrol.com

The KB starts to be very complete (at last!). We’re still working on a full review to fix typos, add more illustrations, etc… We expect it to be formally complete and fully up-to-date in the upcoming weeks.

The KB has been fragmented in the following areas:

1- The Arion Knowledge Base (features of the core, common to all our products).
2- Arion stand-alone.
3- Command-line tools.
4- MAX LIVE.
5- RHINO LIVE.

The area for RCSDK have not been released yet.

Thanks for watching!

New IAD (display + tonemapping)

UI-wise, the main change that v2.5.0 will bring affects the IAD (Interactive Arion Display). That is, the framebuffer display and the tonemapping controls.

Until now, the tonemapping controls in Arion stand-alone used to be accessible through the Scene Explorer, so they were not visible at all times. In v2.5.0, they have been moved to the bottom of the render, taking the form of long sliders. A quick preview thumbnail has been added as well (a-la fryrender).

As you can see in the screenshot below, we have also added 3 new controls there (saturation, brightness, and contrast).

The importance of compositing and the extended support of AOVs in v2.5.0 has made us reconsider the UI to switch between AOVs. In v2.5.0 there is a thin toolbar right under the render, where the active AOVs can be enabled anytime.

We will publish a list of all the AOVs in v2.5.0 and their meaning very soon.


New tonemapping and AOV controls.

These UI changes will bring a better workflow, but there’s more:

1- The LIVE plug-ins will also feature these controls as a Virtual Frame-Buffer. We will talk about this soon in another blog post.

2- We have some interesting plans to extend the tonemapping tab with more controls in the future. This will happen post-v2.5, though.

A little progress update:

There is a good chance that Arion stand-alone v2.5.0 will be released before September ends, and MAX/RHINO LIVE v2.5.0 will follow days after.

Thanks for watching!