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Review: V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max

By Toni Bratincevic

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Date Added: 11th March 2014

V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max is shipping! Blizzard senior environment modeler, Toni Bratincevic, takes an in-depth look at the new features and improvements to see if it's a worthwhile investment for artists



Product: V-Ray3.0 for 3ds Max

Company: Chaos Group

Website: www.chaosgroup.com

Star Rating: 5 / 5

V-Ray is one of the most innovative, fastest and most stable raytracers today. It has become a synonym for quality and was responsible for popularizing and pushing what once was a slow – and not production-ready – algorithm (raytracing) into the most popular way of delivering high-quality renders today.

"One of the most important new features is the introduction of the new progressive render engine"

Although version 2.4 was everything one could wish for, the release of version 3.0 just continues on the trajectory of delivering upgrades to one of the best raytracing engines. While introducing some new fea-tures, V-Ray 3.0 also delivers simplified workflow and focuses on optimizing and improving its own raytracing core.

One of the most important new features is the introduction of the new progressive render engine. Users now have an ability to choose between old image samplers (DMC, Adaptive Subdivision, Fixed) which were all based on bucket rendering, and new progressive render which refines complete image until it reaches certain time or quality limit.

While very similar to V-Ray RT, users were limited to bruteforce global illumination, which can sometimes lead to slow render times, while with the new progressive render users can have a choice of (for example) using Irradiance cache and Light cache as global illumination engines delivering much faster results, while still having the ability of seeing the whole image refining as it is rendering.

In addition to this, raytracing speed has also been improved, especially in cases where bruteforce global illumination is used. Optimizations were done on the V-Ray raytracing core with additional choices to use the embree raytracer, which can speed up rendering with specific scenes even further.

As in any production pipeline, re-rendering and tweaking shaders, textures and lighting requires constant re-rendering, sometimes even 100 times before getting satisfying results. In the old V-Ray, users usually used a rectangular selection over the rendered image to set borders for re-rendering, but in V-Ray 3.0, with the introduction of image masks, this workflow becomes much more efficient.

As a mask, users can decide to use selected objects, layers, textures or define custom objects in-clude/exclude list. Assuming that you have already done a test render of the whole scene, by selecting one object in your viewport and setting Render Mask to Selected, clicking render again will tell V-Ray to only re-render the area of the image covered by the selected object, while leaving old render intact.


Support for Alembic file format, OSL shaders, Deep images and Open EXR 2.0 are very important steps for popularizing V-Ray in high-end movie work, too. Deep images store information for all individual image samples taken during rendering, including their depth values. It allows for more accurate post-processing effects like DOF and motion blur, without getting artifacts specific to old image formats.

With support for OSL shaders, users were given flexibility to extend V-Ray shading horizons, making it even more powerful and a good choice for high-end production where it is common practice to write specialized shaders.

"The user interface has been simplified for new users as well. There is a choice now of Basic, Advanced and Expert UI"

In combination with the Alembic format, new VRMat functionality will help close connectivity gaps be-tween 3D apps, too. V-Ray VRMat materials defined in 3ds Max can be exported and merged into Maya without any additional scripts or apps. In time, this will open up the possibility to create a library of materi-als that are application-independent and can be imported into any available V-Ray platform.

The user interface has been simplified for new users as well. There is a choice now of Basic, Advanced and Expert UI, which allows users with different levels of experience to modify and simplify UI based on their needs. In Basic UI, only important options are exposed to user which for artists new to V-Ray can be a big plus in dealing with complexity of new render engine.

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