Solid Angle will be in force at SIGGRAPH to showcase the latest version of its Arnold renderer, which is delivering significant speed gains over previous versions. Customers are reporting 25-50% performance gains on actual production scenes while simultaneously reducing the memory footprint and noise levels. The 4.2.x release series is focused on performance and additional optimizations will be progressively deployed during the rest of the year. The new release is based on the production proven v4.x Arnold architecture, making the performance increases immediately available to clients as a drop-in replacement with no pipeline changes necessary.
“We are delighted by the feedback our customers are giving us,” said Solid Angle founder and CEO Marcos Fajardo. “It’s gratifying to see our investment in R&D is paying off — we established the benchmark and set the trend for global illumination rendering several years ago, and now we are re-defining performance. Arnold 4.2 has set a new standard.”
These performance enhancements are a direct result of the increased investment in R&D (+40% in the core development team in the past year alone) with key additions including rendering experts Iliyan Georgiev and Brecht Van Lommel amongst others; and the appointment of VFX supervisor Anders Langlands as creative director.
“On Guardians of the Galaxy we were rendering extremely complicated environments, and we worked closely with Solid Angle to test the memory & threading optimizations in the 4.2 release,” said Framestore head of R&D Martin Preston. “We were seeing 5x speedups in how our procedurals could expand to generate our environments, which made our lighters much happier!”
“All of our rendering is done in Arnold and we are seeing speedups across the board,” said Simon van de Lagemaat, founder of Vancouver-based The Embassy VFX. “One scene — with heavy instancing and tons of lights – saw a 25% performance increase. Arnold was already fast — now it’s light-years ahead.” The Oscar-nominated studio has used Arnold to render effects for Elysium, Verizon’s “Science Project,” and most recently, BMW’s M4 “Ultimate Racetrack.”
“We have been using Arnold 4.2 in production for two or three months now. Without doing anything, the average speed-up is at least 20%,” said Nozon lighting & shading lead Gaël Honorez. “When using back-lighting heavily, it simply cuts render times in half.” The Belgian studio recently used Arnold to render the movie Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants.
Solid Angle’s steady commitment to R&D is delivering not just performance enhancements but also two new bridges – one for Houdini and another for Cinema 4D. Reflecting the level of demand for Arnold support within multiple pipelines, the plug-ins will be demonstrated at SIGGRAPH on the Side Effects and MAXON booths respectively.
Arnold for Houdini
HtoA provides a bridge to the Arnold renderer from within the standard Houdini interface. Having been in beta for several months, the plugin has already been used in production by many studios, including Prime Focus World for Hercules and Vampire Academy, Milk VFX for the Sherlock and Doctor Who TV series, and Framestore NY for the Captain Morgan commercials. Arnold for Houdini is due for release during SIGGRAPH and, like the other plug-ins (for Softimage, Maya, and Katana), will be available free- of-charge to customers licensing the Arnold core renderer. Solid Angle senior software engineer Frédéric Servant will be providing demos on the Side Effects booth (#901).
Arnold for Cinema 4D
SIGGRAPH 2014 will also be the venue for the first public showing of Arnold for Cinema 4D (C4DtoA). After more than a year of independent development, the C4DtoA plugin is now officially on the Solid Angle roster and will debut on the MAXON booth (#1422) on Tuesday August 12, at 9:30am. This bridge between the two applications will allow Cinema 4D artists direct access to the advanced rendering capabilities of Arnold. Currently in alpha, C4DtoA is slated for release in Q4 2014. Requests for a tech demo at SIGGRAPH can be made via firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail).
Industry support for Arnold
Arnold’s user base has been further boosted by the addition of support by two Maya plug-in developers: Ontario-based Peregrine Labs, creator of Yeti, a node-based toolset for producing hair, fur and feathers; and France-based Golaem, developer of crowd simulation software Golaem Crowd (Booth #921), whose main SIGGRAPH demo has been rendered in Arnold.